Leadership in the Image of God: Dependence on God


The gift of leadership comes with great responsibility, and with great responsibility comes great worry. How do leaders in the Bible handle their worry?

Read Matthew 6:25-34

All people who lead others or carry organizational responsibility find more than enough reasons to worry—deadlines, financial pressures, market instability and other pressures (you fill in your own blanks here) make stomachs churn and account for many a sleepless night. But Jesus cautions us against worrying about anything—even the food we eat or the clothes we wear. In this passage, Jesus gives His disciples (and us) six reasons for trusting in God rather than worrying.

First, the same God who gives us the greater gift of life will certainly supply the lesser gifts of food and clothing (v. 25). Second, the God who cares for birds will care for His people. After all, humans are of much greater value than any bird (v. 26). Third, worry expends energy pointlessly—it doesn’t change the reality of the situation a single bit (v. 27). Fourth, worry ignores God’s demonstrated faithfulness in our lives (vv. 28-30). The same God who so wonderfully clothes the flowers of the field is responsible to care for them. Every blossoming flower is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us. Fifth, we are God’s children (vv. 31-33). God will never treat us as orphans who need to fend for themselves. Sixth, when we worry about tomorrow we miss out on today (v. 34). Any problem we face can be handled, with God’s help, one day at a time. As leaders who want to influence our generation for Christ, we need to lead in a way that allows others to see our faith in God. One way we can do that is by depending on God in the face of our daily pressures. The next time you’re under pressure, pray for the grace you need to depend on God, who is perfectly and eternally worthy of your trust. Remember that those you lead will see how you respond to such pressures and will follow your actions.

Dependence on God and Who God Is

We live in a time when all forms of external authority are being challenged in favor of subjective, inner authority. The quest for autonomy rather than accountability has become rampant. Yet the Scriptures tell us that an autonomous mindset is a mark of foolishness, since it ignores our fundamental need for dependence on God. Read Lamentations 3:22-26 to consider the importance of an attitude of ongoing dependence on God.

Read Lamentations 3:22-26

The horror of the complete destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians was still vivid in Jeremiah’s mind when he wrote this series of five lamentations. Nevertheless, these verses, placed as they are in the middle of this short book, are words of hope and not of despair. They remind us that our only real hope is the character and promises of God. The Lord’s loving kindness, great compassion and complete faithfulness make Him the supremely worthy object of personal reliance. He is always good to those who seek Him and who put their hope in Him. Everything God asks us to do is for our ultimate good, and everything He tells us to avoid is harmful to us, even when we may think otherwise. 

We will often be tempted to complain that our way is hidden from the Lord, and our cause is disregarded by God (Isaiah 40:27), but doing so means judging according to appearances and not according to reality. There are only two possible perceptions of God’s character and our circumstances; each of us will choose one when we encounter trouble. We will either view God’s character in light of our circumstances, or our circumstances in light of God’s character. If we choose the former, we will tend to look away from God and look to ourselves instead. Instead of leaning on the Rock, we will lean on a broken reed (2 Kings 18:21; Isaiah 36:6). Which means of support would you rather seek out? 

Dependence on God and Who I Am

Faith is a universal experience -- everyone, including the atheist, lives by faith. The issue is not whether we will trust in a belief system or trust in people or things, but whether we are trusting in that which is reliable or untrustworthy. Faith is only as good as the object in which it is placed. Consider Jeremiah 17:5-8 to look at two conflicting sources of personal dependence.

Read Jeremiah 17:5-8

A leader who is detached from God is in danger (vv. 5-6), but one who trusts Him will flourish (vv. 7-9). A wise leader trusts God even when his or her own heart is inclined to do something contrary to God’s revealed will. Knowing and following God’s Word is essential to receiving God’s blessing. Jeremiah draws a sharp contrast between those who depend on human strength and those who depend on the living God. He makes it clear that we cannot look to both as our supreme basis of trust; we will either put our hope in the promises and power of people, or we will look beyond human capability to the person and promises of God. When we make people the basis of our confidence we experience rejection and disappointment again and again.                                    

But when God becomes the ultimate source of our confidence, we are never let down. Habakkuk learned that the righteous will live by their faith (Habakkuk 2:4), and he was not talking about faith in men. Fearing men is a snare, but trusting the Lord is safe (Proverbs 29:25).

Those who put more confidence in themselves or in other people than in God will find bitterness and disappointment in the end. They may appear to prosper for a season, but the journey will not get them to their desired goals. But those who transfer their trust from themselves or the promises of others to the Lord discover that their lives are deeply rooted in well-watered soil. The Lord declares that those who will honor Him will be honored by Him, and He will scorn those who despise Him (1 Samuel 2:30). 

In what areas of your life (e.g., business, finances, health, family) are you depending more on yourself and others than on God?

(Taken from Ken Boa's Handbook to Leadership)

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