The Lord recognises “kings” and it is through such leadership positions where He had chosen to impart His messages first.
In the ancient days of Jeremiah, and looking at the examples from the bible, it was shown that the Lord chose to speak to the kings first before the same message was cascaded to the people in society. This has been done in quite a consistent and uniform fashion where the words about issues such as repentance, destruction, the sword, famine and plague have been spoken to the kings first although they were sometimes communicated through a prophet like Jeremiah. Even cautionary messages like the coming of Babylon to conquer them and the intentional removal of selected individuals as exiles were also conveyed to the kings ahead of anyone else. Why was it so?
It brings to mind that leaders have a specially anointed place in society. They are people with the authority to instruct, motivate and inspire. They have as much responsibility to tell their people what to do as they have the honour to care for the well-being of their followers.
Whether they are godly, disciplined, totally wild or disruptive, a leader remains a leader and being a leader means they will have a specially designated purpose to fulfil, just like how the giant conqueror of Nebuchadnezzar was handpicked by God.
In Jeremiah 27, prophet Jeremiah had forewarned King Zedekiah of Judah about the need to bow down to Nebuchadnezzar when he came to take dominion over everyone with the help of his Babylonian army. The same warning was sent to the king of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon where they were told to follow the orders of this new strong Babylonian kingdom so they and their people will be safe and given a chance to live as exiles. And from a previous reading, we know that being an exile in the season of Jeremiah wasn’t all that bad because God had a better plan in store for them.
Jeremiah 27 (New International Version)
3 Then send word to the kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon through the envoys who have come to Jerusalem to Zedekiah king of Judah. 4 Give them a message for their masters and say, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Tell this to your masters: 5 With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. 6 Now I will give all your countries into the hands of my servant Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; I will make even the wild animals subject to him. 7 All nations will serve him and his son and his grandson until the time for his land comes; then many nations and great kings will subjugate him.
8 “‘“If, however, any nation or kingdom will not serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon or bow its neck under his yoke, I will punish that nation with the sword, famine and plague, declares the Lord, until I destroy it by his hand.
12 I gave the same message to Zedekiah king of Judah. I said, “Bow your neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, and you will live. 13 Why will you and your people die by the sword, famine and plague with which the Lord has threatened any nation that will not serve the king of Babylon?
But coming back to the issue of leadership here, it is crucial for us to understand that the leader we recognise as the one we can follow must be an astutely well poised individual who can exercise wisdom and diligence in everything that they do. Failing that and the entire ship will sink, much like how giant corporations and past empires have. But if these leaders are good and capable, their followers will stand to inherit a great deal of satisfaction in delivering their duties, and fulfilment too in climbing the ladder of life, not forgetting the genuine joy and happiness derived from a “job well done”.
As we coincide with the pandemic era in 2020, I can’t help but to think of the predicament faced by the workforce and the employers who hired them. On the one hand, the industry is burdened with almost zero or zero production due to Covid-19, with no income for the employers at all (originally written on 1 April 2020). But on the other side of the equation, there are employees who were employed through a binding contractual relationship. Hence there are contractual obligations to fulfill by the employers.
If hit by financial hardships, this delicate situation will be especially difficult to navigate through if the employers are short on resources to cope with the downturn regardless of how dedicated the staff has been in supporting the organisation in the past.
Under such circumstances, how then will they overcome this? Sure the situation would be easy if both the employers and employees have been on equally bad terms or that they have both been irresponsible and inhumane but things become difficult when both sides have been earnest and sincere to each other only to be hampered now by the financial position of the employer’s. One wonders what anyone can do without someone getting hurt.
I’ve had a brush with financial meltdowns running my own business previously with a number of staff in the company to shoulder. The financial tight spot can get very intense and ugly if the coffers have been empty or when business volume hasn’t quite pulled in the numbers. What’s worse is we endured this spell twice in the same business, one at the beginning and another at the tail end of its lifespan. On both occasions, instead of telling my loyal colleagues to take unpaid leave or endure a pay cut, we chose instead to pay their salaries in stages. Meaning, if we were unable to pay the entire sum over one payment for that month, we would pay in partial until the outstanding is fully paid off. We did this at a time when the company was truly scraping bottom. But the good that came out of it was a stronger bond and team dynamics because ingrained deep within our minds is “we’ve pulled through this together”. The sweet victory became rather unforgettable for all who were involved.
We were however not so fortunate in the second crisis as the damage was much bigger, and the pain and scarring was just too overwhelming. Our staff had no choice but to leave us. Can we blame them? Obviously not. We had our roles to play as the leaders but we just didn’t quite become the captains and generals that we were supposed to be; even whilst saying this it sounds like a gross understatement on our part.
I guess what I’m trying to explain here is that leaders have a true and special place in God’s plan. If we are able to abide by Him, we will certainly pull through no matter how excruciatingly painful it is because our steps will follow our attentive “listening” when we are close to Him. But when we distance ourselves from Abba Father, all hell breaks loose.
In recalling the first crisis, it was truly a miraculous journey. I say this because at that time, our financial standing was so poor we weren’t even qualified to apply for any bank borrowings to tide us over. The difficult time lasted close to three years and it is unfathomable how we even lasted that long. But the success that culminated from this difficult episode gave us all the best memories that money can’t buy. One could say that because of this strenuous season, we have an unwritten bond built with trust that undergirds our friendship until today. It was a breakthrough witnessed together as we went from broke to having the resources to sustain the company’s expenses. It took a lot of prayers and perseverance but we rejoiced upon pulling through with God on our side.
The story was unfortunately not the same in the second crisis in that although we hoisted ourselves back to safety but not first without some excruciating moments, our walk with God was wobbly, flimsy and you could say absent. Instead of being close to Him in honour of His protection, guidance and favour from the first crisis, we strayed so far that we couldn’t even tell when the beginning of the second crisis was already looming. Whatever damage control we tried asserting thereafter was more difficult to implement than expected. Our hard fought battles to re-secure the position of the company was also not accepted well by our staff. In the end, most of what we’ve rebuilt crumbled before our very eyes, inflicting just as much pain if not more than the first crisis.
The crucial message here is this – when we are appointed or chosen to be a leader by God, whether it be a leader at home, at work or in society, we have a special role to play. With the position of authority comes responsibilities and in no better way to describe this, the popular saying cannot be further from the truth.
And so friends, if and when we realise we are given a position of leadership, we must do all we can to pay attention to God’s leading. More than ever, we must walk closer and closer with Him so we can hear and feel Him as sensitive as we should be. Why? Because His covering is real when we are near Him. The intimate relationship we have with Him will also extend its protection to our followers and the well-being of their families, giving them more grace and mercy just as the Lord imparts the same to us.
But if a leader chooses to prioritise his or her own position and neglect the good work that has been done by their followers, then let it be reminded that employers of such quality will have to ultimately answer God themselves. They have to give an account of what has happened and why they have made those unfair decisions just to save their skins. It’d be worse if they lack not in the resources to fulfill those obligations. Our omnipresent God is ever knowing and ever present in all situations and circumstances, don’t think for one second our actions will escape Him.
God is watching, your every step, every move and every single dollar your have; He knows. I pray that you will exercise good judgement and allow God to direct your footsteps in this very trying season of Covid-19. May you be part of God’s plan, to be sheltered and protected, and arise from the ashes of this virus when the entire ordeal is over. Let God’s mighty hands cover you and raise you up when the time is ripe. May He also nurture you as a great leader for your family, your company, your society and be a godly influence to the people around you, in Jesus name, Amen!
Bible reference from www.biblegateway.com