The Minor Prophets Speak to Today
Follow My Ways and Carefully Serve Me
6 Then the angel of the Lord spoke very solemnly to Jeshua and said, 7 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: If you follow my ways and carefully serve me, then you will be given authority over my Temple and its courtyards. I will let you walk among these others standing here.
The Price of Leadership
In the United States of America, we are beginning the campaign season for our next President. Each campaign cycle candidates spend an increased amount of money to win this leadership prize. This time supporters of the candidates may spend, already are spending, even larger sums of money as long as they are not directly involved in the campaign. In other words, as long as the candidates' teams do not receive any of the money directly and the candidate and their campaign staff are not consulted on how to support the candidate supporters can spend as much as they can possibly raise.
The projection says the 2016 Presidential race will spend $5,000,000,000 (5 billion dollars). Donald Trump alone claims he is willing to spend $1,000,000,000 to ensure he becomes President. No wonder some people claim the Presidency can be bought.
In other places in history, men have spent hundreds and thousands of lives in order to become leaders. Indeed, in some systems, at some times, the leadership positions under these men and women went to the individuals who paid the most for the privileges and perks of leadership. The point is there is a price to be paid for taking, receiving, or otherwise obtaining leadership.
The Price of Being in Leadership
I have spent 60 years watching the men who have become Presidents of the United States. Each one significantly grayed - I mean their hair grayed, and that regardless of their age. Graying hair seems to be one price of leadership of the nation.
In the churches, in all areas of society, and in every place on earth, leadership exacts a price on those who lead. Stress badgers them. They attract opposition. Someone, or millions of ones, will doubt their abilities, their wisdom, their motivations, etc. The families of leaders get disrupted, or should I say the possibility of healthy family relationships gets compromised by the demands of leadership.
One of our American leadership gurus states bluntly that the greater the leadership position the greater the temptation to three things: arrogance, adultery, and authoritarianism. Of course some men use these very things to secure leadership. Many see them as the privileges or rights of leadership. And new reports fill with inappropriate sexual relationships, bad attitudes towards the "lesser" workers or "common" people, and psycho bosses.
Men and women in leadership in the churches or church related organization fall to these three temptations perhaps at a higher rate. At least they fall further and harder because these betray the God who allowed them to become leaders in his church. Deacons and elders, not just pastors, fall to these temptations of those who lead.
God Also Extracts a Price for Leadership (Authority)
The passage above speaks directly to the price God requires of those who lead, especially those who are priests in his kingdom.
"If you follow my ways and carefully serve me, then you will be given authority." Following God's ways and carefully serving him are the price to receive authority in the Kingdom of God. Jeshua in this passage is already the High Priest when God names his price for authority. Unlike secular leadership positions where position endows authority, among the children of God authority comes from God not from the position.
This requires some serious meditation.
Our calling or hiring a person to lead in the Kingdom does not give that person authority. Of course in many churches it becomes abundantly clear that the congregation, or some power brokers in the congregation, have reserved all human and spiritual authority to themselves. The leader of the church is invited with great enthusiasm then in a short time discovers he or she has been enslaved. Enslaved - not to God, who set them apart for ministry in the Body of Christ, and his will - but enslaved to the people's will or the power brokers' will.
But God does not say a leader of the Children of God will receive authority from the people. Apparently the community of believers is not a democracy of the people, for the people, and by the will of the people.
What happens when the men and women placed in those positions follow God's way and carefully serve Him?
Sometimes the people recognize the seal of God on this person, repent of their playing God and "priest" maker, and great fulfillment flows in. Great service to the world flows out. We call these things blessings from God.
Sometimes the people actually rebel against the person to whom God has given His authority. Sometimes they rebel against the ways God is trying to lead them through His authority. In either case the people are rebelling against God. Yes, sometimes the people rebel against God.
But this passage in Zechariah does not name the faithfulness of the people or the rebellion of the people as rewards of being given authority by God.
The reward the priests are given in the Kingdom of God is " I will let you walk among these others standing here." I will let you walk among the angels who are ministering to God and his people. I will let you walk in the presence of those spirits and men who stand in the very presence of Jesus and his Father.
And, lest you forget, God is not just speaking about people of title in the earthly institutional forms of the Church.
He Has Made You a Kingdom of Priests!
This passage is speaking to you.
Catholic Church England and Wales General Audience with Pope Francis
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© Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk from Flickr.com