Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.
It should come as no surprise that leadership is such a buzzword these days. Frequently I find myself reading some report or another about it. Some of these reports talk about how a good leader knows their team, or does those extra tasks that nobody else wants. Other reports talk about how an effective leader inspires their people to take pride in their work. I won’t say that I necessarily disagree with these ideas, as they sound good. On paper. The practical is a bit more complicated.
One thing I have observed is that those who put in the extra effort, especially when they have no chance at a promotion, are called “suck ups”, which is a rather demeaning term to call anyone. Sadly, the people who say such things are the ones who do just enough to keep their jobs, and perhaps make themselves look just good enough that they are in a “leadership” position, thus they may feel threatened by anyone who is genuinely doing more than them. This is just how human leadership sometimes works, though it really doesn’t work.
What about God?
Does God want to lead us, and if so, what is his idea of leadership?
It should be a surprise that God does want to lead us, though our species regularly rejects him and his precepts. Why? Because we want to do what we want when we want to do it. This means that even though God has set forth certain standards, which he expects us to abide by, we choose to do what we want, even while demanding that he has to allow us into his kingdom, which he is not necessarily obligated to do.
It would that it is because of this wanton human tendency to do as we please, and not as God would have us do that we find that the next line of the Lord’s Prayer reads:
“And lead us not into temptation.”
Temptation is one of Satan’s greatest tools. He used it against Adam and Eve in the garden. He attempted to use it against Job, and even against Christ Jesus. Additionally, he uses it against us every day. We all have something we are tempted by, whether at work or at home. Some of these temptations may seem rather benign, but can cause a host of trouble if left unchecked.
What does the Small Catechism say about this line of the Lord’s Prayer?
God, indeed, tempts no one; but we pray in this petition that God would guard and keep us, so that the devil, the world, and our flesh may not deceive us, nor seduce us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice; and though we be assailed by them, that still we may finally overcome and gain the victory.
What does this mean? Simply put, God is not going to lead us into a situation that we know we don’t belong in. Nor is God going to tempt us with those things that he has declared as being off limits. Rather, God desires to lead us to his kingdom, where there is nothing unholy or debase. Never mind that for some, only those things which are debase are desirable, and such will find themselves in another, worse place, come judgment day.
God’s leadership is a bit counter-cultural to how we think. He desires to lead us to his kingdom, but he isn’t willing to force us to obey his rules and precepts. If we want to reject his rules and precepts, then he will reject us. Even though Christ Jesus died upon the cross to save us from our sins, we are still free to reject that, and thus doom ourselves to an eternity in Hell.
Perhaps then, when somebody does something right, and people speak evil of them, it should not be a surprise. Indeed, our hearts are inclined towards evil from birth (see Psalm 51 1~9). It is for that reason that Christ Jesus died for our sins. God took the initiative, and did what he knew would save us from our sins. All that is left for us it to believe and trust, as we seek to avoid sin in our lives, and repenting when we do sin.
Leadership really isn’t about promotions. Sometimes it is merely about doing what is necessary, even if it is seems pointless, or unpopular. There will be those who reject the idea of doing the right thing, especially when there doesn’t seem to be anything in it for them. Such people will eventually find themselves under scrutiny, as we all will. To that end, even if it is unpopular and won’t result in a promotion, keeping doing those extra tasks. If nothing else, it will ultimately make things better for you and your co-workers. Additionally, it may just be that doing so will show a greater form of leadership than those who are in “leadership” positions. Oddly, there is a word for that too. Respect.