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Two Kinds of Leaders

“A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.” (Proverb 28:16)

In the world, we consider “rulers” to be somehow elevated above those they rule. In the Word of God only Jesus is elevated (high and lifted up) above the people.

In the Word of God “rulers” function as equals to all other people. Godly rulers are assigned by GOD to simply lead the people in the way GOD wants them to be led. However, some spiritual leaders choose for themselves to be leaders and God, who allows us to experience the fruit of our decisions, will allow this even though it won’t be His will.

It is therefore important for a leader to, first of all, be in leadership because the Lord specifically chose him or her to lead. Parents, for example, are chosen to lead by virtue of the fact that God allows them to become parents.

However, many earthly leaders (spiritual and otherwise) have placed themselves in authority and some of these (in the words of today’s Proverb) “lack understanding”. The word “understanding” is a Hebrew word that means “intelligence” but it implies “discretion, reason, skillfulness, understanding, and wisdom.”

The writer of this Proverb tells us that we can know when this is the case because this person is a “great oppressor.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “oppression” in these ways: “to crush or burden by abuse of power or authority; to burden spiritually or mentally.”

We can always know that an oppressive leader (parent, king, spiritual leader or otherwise) is not functioning according to the desires of Jesus when he is practicing the very things Jesus came to alleviate:

Jesus speaking:

"The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the Gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, TO SET AT LIBERTY THOSE WHO ARE OPPRESSED; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD." (Luke 4:18-19)

One can tell when he is lead in an oppressive manner. In the wake of leaders who rule without “discretion, reason, skillfulness, understanding, and wisdom” are the poor (those who lack), brokenhearted people, captives, the spiritually blind and captives (those who are crushed and burdened, spiritually, mentally and/or physically.

It is NOT judgmental to recognize and admit the truth in our own lives.

We’ve seen the example of a bad leader. As is usually the case, this Proverb also shows us the opposite of the bad example:

“A ruler who lacks understanding is a great oppressor, but he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.” (Proverb 28:16)

The Holy Spirit, through the writer, equates an oppressive leader with “covetousness” – a word that means “plunder; dishonest gain, profit.”

In contrast to this sort of parent, spiritual leader, governmental authority… a leader who hates the idea of using the people for his own gain. We are told that “he who hates covetousness will prolong his days.”

I imagine this can refer to living longer, remaining in authority longer….or both.

This morning, this Proverb jumped out at me because I am constantly aware that God is advancing HIS Kingdom on the earth.

He does this through people. For many tasks He intends to accomplish He chooses leaders and partners with those leaders, Himself as the lead in these endeavors.

ANYONE can be chosen to lead, as we can see in the case of David who started as the youngest son who was out in the fields tending sheep and ended up as the King of Israel. (God doesn’t always choose the biggest, strongest and best looking.)

Since ANYONE could be chosen, it seems wise to me for us ALL to consider how we would lead on God’s behalf were we chosen by Him to be a “ruler.” In so doing, we will be less apt to fall for satan’s temptations to use our (often temporary) positions in His Kingdom and to use the people we lead for our own gain.

“This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop (an overseer – one of MANY kinds of spiritual leaders), he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, NOT GREEDY FOR MONEY, but gentle, not quarrelsome, NOT COVETOUS; one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice (new convert), lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, LEST HE FALL INTO REPROACH AND THE SNARE OF THE DEVIL.” (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

May we all be willing to lead whenever the LORD calls us to do so.

May we all lead in ways that bring joy to the King and that cause those we serve as leaders to flourish.

Pastor Mike McInerney

Mike McInerney Ministries

Decatur, TX

© February 28, 2017

(For use with permission)

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