Two Common Errors Leaders Make
Updated: Apr 1, 2021
Week 13 in the Word – March 26, 2021
The Bible is the revealed word of God, not a book about leadership. But it does teach us a lot about leadership and other areas of life, like human nature, purpose, identity, justice, ethics, marriage, parenting and so on. This week we come to readings in which we can see how two leaders handled common situations in ways that other leaders often fail.
Error #1. Failure to empower followers to solve their own problems.
Every leader knows the reality of being constantly bombarded with questions and dilemmas. He or she is tempted to do too much for those under their authority. Joshua successfully led the Israelites into Canaan. Five of the tribes were assigned land boundaries according to God’s decree. But there remained seven tribes whose boundaries still had to be drawn (Joshua 18).
Joshua could have arbitrarily assigned these tribes their territories. Instead, he authorized them to solve their own problem. He had the seven tribes choose three representatives each. Joshua then gave these 21 men the task of going through the remaining land and bringing back to him a description including boundaries for seven tribal lands. Joshua would then draw lots to designate the territories for each of those seven tribes.
The surveyors carried out the job and reported back to Joshua who drew the lots to assign each tribe their territory. The results are recorded in Joshua 18-19. It is fair to assume that this plan worked smoothly. Joshua did what many leaders do not do. He empowered the interested parties to solve their own problem. This not only saved Joshua the time and energy of making the decisions, but it also permitted each tribe to have “buy in” for the final decision.
When my sister and I were kids, our mother wisely used this principle of letting us solve our own problem. There was pie leftover in the refrigerator. We both wanted some. Mom let me divide it but then let my sister (four years younger than me) choose which piece she wanted. This insured that I would try to divide the pie in exactly two equal pieces and that, if I did not, my sister would be able to choose the bigger piece.
Wise leaders, like Joshua, empower their followers to solve their own problems as much as possible. Do you?
Error #2. Failure to pray during high-stress times.
Jesus’ fame was growing and so were the crowds that came to hear Him and to be healed (Luke 5:15-16). In spite of the opportunities that the Lord had to minister to people, He did not neglect to “withdraw to desolate places and pray.” Many leaders with growing popularity and invitations to speak, write, travel, and expand their influence would find the temptation to work longer hours irresistible. No wonder the personal lives of some successful leaders get shipwrecked.
Wise leaders, like Jesus, take time for prayer during high-stress times. Do you?
This coming week we will finish the book of Joshua and begin Judges. As Joshua passes away, the people experience new challenges with no recognized leader to replace him as he had replaced Moses. They then enter a period in which there are repeated cycles of societal sin followed by the domination of foreign powers. As each cycle unfolds, there come times of repentance after which God raises up a “judge” who leads the people to victory and to restored peace and prosperity. Later in the book we will read a phrase that describes the situation in Israel during this period: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). The book of Judges shows the backdrop for Israel wanting to have a king who could give them more stability and security against enemies.
As we continue Luke’s gospel this week (5:1-8:21), Jesus’ fame grows bringing crowds to hear His teaching and to request healing from their diseases. Jesus calls disciples and names twelve apostles. He ministers to some very unlikely characters like a tax collector named Levi and a woman of ill repute but of amazing faith. He raises a dead man. He answers questions about His identity from two disciples of John the Baptist. At the same time, scribes and Pharisees mount increased resistance to Jesus.
Tip of the week
When reading any Bible passage ask yourself: “what did this passage mean when it was originally written?” The Bible is not a coded message with hidden meanings. It was written in an historical context and with literary meaning. Do not look for secret messages that have nothing to do with what the text originally meant.
Week of March 26-April 1, 2021
March 26 /Day 85 Leadership Lessons from Jesus & Joshua (Joshua 16-18; Luke 5:1-16) Audio here. March 27/Day 86 Old Wine, New Wine, & the Problem of Receptivity (Joshua 19-20; Luke 5:17-39) Audio here. March 28/Day 87 Hated, Excluded, Reviled, Spurned, Blessed (Joshua 21-22; Luke 6:1-26) Audio here. March 29/Day 88 Loving God and Enemies (Joshua 23-24; Luke 6:27-49) Audio here. March 30/Day 89 The Kingdom that Cannot Fail (Judges 1-2; Luke 7:1-30) Audio here. March 31/Day 90 Women of Faith and Action (Judges 3-5; Luke 7:31-50) Audio here. April 1/Day 91 Facing the Truth (Judges 6-7; Luke 8:1-21) Audio here. If you do not have a copy of my book you may want to order one here. However, you may also access the daily audio recordings generously provided by my friend and pastor Charlie Evans above.