What makes a leader? What is it that defines the soul of the one who stands at the front of the line? There are many characteristics that one could use to describe the many facets of a leader, but time and time again I find myself pondering the same question when I lead or am myself led by those who have gone before me:
Do we lead by our opinion or our conviction?
We don’t have to go much further than the local news or any online media outlet to see those in leadership and come to our own conclusions favouring one side or the other. But we’re not responsible nor accountable for the decisions of others. We’re responsible and accountable for our own.
If we peel open the onion-skin pages of scripture we will find, buried deep nearly to the end of the Old Testament, a leader who must have battled his pride over God’s will to bring truth to the light.
Haggai was a prophet of the Lord given the task of preaching to the Jewish people. It was nearly 20 years after their exile from Babylon and they were vulnerable, disappointed, and greatly discouraged as they began the difficult process of rebuilding their lives in the land of Judah. The Jews became very self-focused on their own tasks and interests as opposed to the rebuilding of The Lords temple. And Haggai had a most challenging task of speaking and preaching truth in order to bring the people out of their emotional famine into a spiritual feast.
Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai:
Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your panelled houses, while this house remains a ruin?”
Now this is what the Lord Almighty says:
Give careful thought to your ways. You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.”
As a preacher and leader of the people, Haggai would have witnessed much. He would have counselled much. He would have certainly listened much as the people poured out their hearts lamenting about all they lacked in their lives.
I venture to make the assumption that because Haggai was of flesh and bone, he would have wrestled with the truths he was commissioned to declare. And perhaps he would have doubted his words thinking the people of his fold would shun him believing he was speaking of personal opinion and not declaring the Word of the Lord by the spiritual conviction to do so.
But alas, the Word promises to never come back void for a convicted heart cannot go unchanged. Conviction is a firmly held belief and if it comes from the Holy Spirit, it will be received and accepted by the hearts God has prepared to hear it. Our personal opinions have the ability to stand in the way of God’s truth and, more often than not, God’s timing when moulding the delicate soul of another.
As we lead, let us learn from Haggai and powerful testimony he left for us. When we lead and desire to lead well through times of vulnerability, disappointment, and discouragement, let us set aside our personal opinions seeking the conviction of the Spirit who is constantly at work within us.