Leadership requires accountability, yet many leaders of the past considered themselves above rebuke. Even when their deeds failed to catch up to them in their own lifetimes, history judged them clearly. History often remembers and records people as they really are. And if history doesn’t recall the truth, God does.
Ezekiel was firm in his rebuke of the leaders of his time—Yahweh commanded him to be: “And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, ‘Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and you must say to them, to the shepherds, “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.”’” (Ezek 34:1–3).
During Ezekiel’s lifetime, the leaders of God’s people were not being leaders at all. They were looking out for themselves rather than the good of the people. The same is true of leaders in our own time. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, as John Dalberg-Acton remarked, than surely we are all at risk of losing our way. Rather than responding with dismay, we should determine to take right action and speak the truth.
We must be people who seek God above ourselves. We must be people who put the needs of others before our own. We must want the glory of God among all people, above all things. We are all leading in one way or another, and others are watching us. That gives each of us an opportunity to lead by example. And any leader who is led by something other than God’s will ends up corrupt. Ezekiel’s criticism presents us an opportunity to change—to accept our rebuke and choose to live above reproach. Will we take it?
How should you change your approach to leading others in light of Ezekiel’s rebuke? What needs to change for you to live above reproach?
JOHN D. BARRY
John D. Barry and Rebecca Kruyswijk, Connect the Testaments: A Daily Devotional (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012).