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Leadership is putting others before yourself

Leader is an admirable title, but it’s a position that carries great responsibility. Good leaders seek the interests of others before tending to themselves. To lead others well takes a degree of strength and a desire to develop and guide others. To lead others well is to lead like a shepherd.

Good leaders seek the interests of others before tending to themselves.

Throughout the Bible, God describes His people as sheep and those assigned to caring for His people as shepherds. A shepherd’s life was one of self-sacrifice and hard work. Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes a shepherd’s day like this:

"In early morning he led forth the flock from the fold, marching at its head to the spot where they were to be pastured. Here he watched them all day, taking care that none of the sheep strayed, and if any for a time eluded his watch and wandered away from the rest, seeking diligently till he found and brought it back. In those lands sheep require to be supplied regularly with water, and the shepherd for this purpose has to guide them either to some running stream or to wells dug in the wilderness and furnished with troughs. At night he brought the flock home to the fold, counting them as they passed under the rod at the door to assure himself that none were missing. Nor did his labors always end with sunset. Often he had to guard the fold through the dark hours from the attack of wild beasts, or the wily attempts of the prowling thief.”

During Israel’s exile to Babylon, Israel’s leaders were supposed to direct and care for the people like shepherds looking out for their flock. But instead, they oppressed the people, neglecting to feed and clothe them, and failing to look for those who wandered away. The prophet Ezekiel warns these shepherds that God considers them enemies for their neglect. He will not only search and rescue His people, He will serve justice.

Too often, like Israel’s leaders, we can believe the lie that leadership is about moving up the ranks and neglect those we are leading. But the truth is that ineffective or self-serving leadership always leads to disunity (Ezekiel 34:5-6). This isn’t what God wants for us or for His people.

In Ezekiel 34:11-12, God promises to return one day to search out and care for His people the way a shepherd tends his sheep. As His followers and ambassadors on Earth, we have the opportunity to lead how God leads -- putting our focus on helping others, not just ourselves.

Reflect:

  • What did this passage teach you about leading others the way God leads His people?
  • What’s one way you can step up as a leader and lead as God leads?

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