TO CHEW ON: "Thus says the Lord God: 'Behold I am against the shepherds, and I will require My flock at their hand; I will cause them to cease feeding the sheep, and the shepherds shall feed themselves no more; for I will deliver My flock that they may no longer be food for them'" Ezekiel 34:10
Is God here ranting against the men that are out in the Judean hillsides watching their sheep — actual shepherds? No. This is a diatribe against leaders of people who had failed to do what leaders should do. Looking over verses 1-10 we can discover what some of those failings were:
1. They were concerned primarily about themselves and not the people they led (Ezekiel 34:2).
2. They acted out this self-interest by ravaging the flock. They used their underlings for their own ends (Ezekiel 34:3).
3. They took no responsibility for their flock's health or well-being. They didn't look after its sick or hurt members and didn't go after the ones who went wandering or got lost. The result was a scattered, weak, sickly flock, vulnerable to any danger that came along from weather to wild animals, to wandering (Ezekiel 34:4-6).
4. They were held accountable and lost their jobs (Ezekiel 34:7-10).
This is a good warning to take to heart for those of us who lead in any capacity (in our churches as pastors, teachers, or small group leaders, in society as presidents, committee heads or coaches, in our homes as parents and grandparents). When we turn God's four scolds of Israel's irresponsible leaders into positives, we have a template for our own leadership. Good leadership is:
1. Concerned primarily with the well-being of those who follow.
2. Untainted by motives of personal gain.
3. All about responsibility.
Of course the look of this will be different for the different kinds of shepherding we do. For the spiritual leader of people — say as a small group leader in church — it might involve making sure you have some good spiritual food prepared for your next meeting, listening to your people to discover their hurts and challenges, phoning the ones who are absent, visiting the sick ones in hospital, bringing meals to the home where Mom has just had a baby, getting other healthy members involved in the care of the flock so it doesn't all fall on your shoulders...
4. Expecting to be held accountable. How much better to hear His "Well done, good and faithful servant" than that you've lost your flock and your job because you weren't a good shepherd!
PRAYER: Dear God, please put within me the heart of a good leader/shepherd who thinks of others first before myself. Help me to demonstrate servant leadership whenever I lead. Amen.
MORE: Advice to leaders
Michael Hyatt, a speaker and author who writes often about leadership this advice to his successor as CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing in 2011 It is good advice to anyone who is a leader:
1. Your position is a role not your identity.*********
2. Your position is temporary not permanent.
3. Your position is a privilege not a right.
4. Your position is about faithfulness not achievement.
5. Your position is about them not you.
6. Your position is about stewardship not ownership.
7. Your position will require more than you can provide on your own.
Read all of "Advice to a New CEO (or to any Leader)" to see how he expands on each of these points.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.