December 6, 2008

Leader-self Before Leadership

I have just returned from an awesomely refreshing and reflecting week in Maui. I had some time to spend reading, praying and just relaxing. Sometimes we must step out of the everyday-isms of our schedule packed lives and slow down. This allows us an opportunity to listen to God without any interruptions or distractions. Time spent like this generally ends in revelation of changes I need to make in my life.

I talk a lot about leadership. In fact, it is easy for me to talk about leadership, especially when I am telling other people how to become leaders. However, the more I learn about leadership the more I learn the prerequisite to leadership. That is leader-SELF. If I am ever to be a good leader and display good leadership I must first learn how to lead myself. Leader-self requires me to be a great leader to me. If I can’t lead myself how can I lead others?

This past week I read the story of Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They were blessed of God to be in direct lineage of the priestly order. They were set to be great leaders of the people of God and follow in the footsteps of their father Eli. However they chose a different direction.

They chose to take the call of God, the provision of God, and the people of God and treat it all with contempt. They abused their position of authority, they shamed the good name of their father, they mocked the house of God, and they raped the people of God. They were unsuccessful in their leadership because they were first unsuccessful in their leader-self. They chose to satisfy themselves instead of seeking God’s plan for their lives and the lives of those God entrusted to them.

We all have choices to make in life. Our choices will determine who we become both now and for eternity. Our choices will also determine the legacy that we leave behind. The choices Eli’s boys made cost them, their father and their children.

"Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "This is what the LORD says: 'Did I not clearly reveal myself to your father's house when they were in Egypt under Pharaoh? 28 I chose your father out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence. I also gave your father's house all the offerings made with fire by the Israelites. 29 Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?' 30 "Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: 'I promised that your house and your father's house would minister before me forever.' But now the LORD declares: 'Far be it from me! Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. 31 The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your family line 32 and you will see distress in my dwelling. Although good will be done to Israel, in your family line there will never be an old man. 33 Every one of you that I do not cut off from my altar will be spared only to blind your eyes with tears and to grieve your heart, and all your descendants will die in the prime of life. 34 "'And what happens to your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, will be a sign to you-- they will both die on the same day. 35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always. 36 Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a crust of bread and plead, "Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat."'" 1 Samuel 2:27 – 36

Our choices can become investments or expenses. Investments reap great rewards while expenses cost time and resources. What choices are you making? I pray that you and I will make the decision to become great leaders of self. Then, through God’s grace, we can become great leaders of others.