This is a word for Christian leaders. (We are all, in some capacity, leaders.)
Today, my Bible reading was in Isaiah, chapters 6 and 9. There are so many observations to make— from the timing of Isaiah’s call to ministry, to the posture of the seraphim (angels), to the promise of the Messiah’s coming. Despite prophesying Israel’s fall and God’s coming judgement, Isaiah’s words are rich with God’s holiness and goodness.
However, there is a verse that caught my attention above the rest— “The leaders of the people misled them, and those they misled are swallowed up.” Isaiah 9:14
If you don’t know Israel’s story well and you’re wondering how they got from the Promised Land to destruction and exile. The roots of their judgment go all the way back to 1 Samuel. The people begged God for a king, so they could be like all the other surrounding nations. God advised against their request, yet they persisted, and God gave them over to their desire.
Because they looked to human (fallen, sinful) men to lead them, instead of a perfect and holy God, they were led into sin themselves. The people who had been delivered out of Egypt and into the Promised Land forsook the One who called them.
Now, you may read Isaiah’s proclamation of judgment and view God as harsh, but keep in mind this was not the first warning given to Israel. Over and over again, leading up to this point the prophets have warned of the need to rend their hearts, repent, and return to the Lord—or face inevitable discipline.
The people did not listen. They gave themselves over to the sin of apostasy. And here, in Isaiah 9, the prophet delivers a strong rebuke aimed at Israel’s leadership: Instead of leading the people to follow and worship God, they led them to follow and worship other gods and even themselves. Because of their reckless leadership, now the people would be “swallowed up" in destruction.
Whether we lead only our children, or a small group, or small business, or an entire church or other ministry, this word applies to us. Who or what are you leading the people God has entrusted to you to follow and worship?
Who or what are you leading the people God has entrusted to you to follow and worship?
Are you leading your children to follow your desire for their life, or seek God’s? Are you leading them to love sports, material things, comfort, or accomplishment— or are you leading them to worship the Giver?
Are you leading your employees to remain loyal to you rather than follow the will of God for their lives? Are you leading your employees to worship your establishment rather than worship the God who initiated it in the first place?
Are you leading them to place activity for God before adoration of Him? Are you leading them to love you, or love the Lord?
These are some very tough, introspective questions.
I think Isaiah’s encounter with God, chapters earlier, reveals the key to humble leadership. In his encounter with God, the prophet is completely undone by His holiness. In the presence of the Lord almighty, Isaiah recognizes the extent of his human condition--
“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
Through Jesus’s final work on the cross, we have the privilege to enter the Holy of Holies. God’s presence dwells within us. Every day we can— and should— behold Him like Isaiah did. This posture of humility reminds us, as leaders, is that HE alone is the King of Kings, and HE alone is worthy of our following and our affections. There is no name higher than Jesus.
This posture of humility reminds us, as leaders, that He alone is the King of Kings, and He alone is worthy of our following and our affections.
As leaders, we will make mistakes. We’re human. God already knows that. The wonderful thing about our God is He delights in using “jars of clay” to allow His light to shine. When we repent, He responds— forgiving us and helping us move forward in obedience.
I would love to say “it’s never too late,” but the Bible makes it clear there will come a time when it will be. God says, on that day, those of us He has entrusted with leadership positions will be judged more severely (James 3:1). In that day, will your people stand before God, arms lifted high in worship? Or on that day, will they be swallowed up in destruction?
Jesus left us with this one command— to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Not disciples of ourselves, or any other created thing, but disciples of the Creator.
Let us lead in humility, truth, and in action so that others may know Him.
A little about me...
Hi, I'm Katie!
Wife to Craig, mom of three, author, writer, Rooted Moms founder, Jesus-follower, Bible teacher, and coffee enthusiast.
Follow me as I follow Christ and share my heart throughout the journey.