Authority, Responsibility and Accountability Go Hand-in-Hand
The Lord God of Hosts said: “Go to Shebna, that steward who is in charge of the palace, [and say to him:] What are you doing here? Who authorized you to carve out a tomb for yourself here, carving your tomb on the height and cutting a crypt for yourself out of rock? Look, young man! The Lord is about to shake you violently. He will take hold of you, wind you up into a ball, and sling you into a wide land. There you will die, and there your glorious chariots will be, a disgrace to the house of your lord. I will remove you from your office; you will be ousted from your position. On that day I will call for my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and tie your sash around him. I will put your authority into his hand, and he will be like a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the House of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; what he opens, no one can close; what he closes, no one can open. I will drive him, like a peg, into a firm place. He will be a throne of honor for his father’s house. They will hang on him the whole burden of his father’s house: the descendants and the offshoots – all the small vessels, from bowls to every kind of jar. On that day, the declaration of the Lord of Hosts, the peg that was driven into a firm place will give way, be cut off, and fall, and the load on it will be destroyed.” Indeed, the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 22:15-25 (HCSB)
Self-serving leaders will stumble from leadership. No one follows a selfish leader for long? History is full of ego-driven leaders who put their agenda ahead of the needs of the people. Disaster, destruction and downfall lies in the path of their callous, rebellious ways.
In this Bible passage. God placed Shebna in the position of steward over King Hezekiah’s palace (similar to being the President’s Chief of Staff). However he was caught red-handed taking care of his own self-interests rather than worrying about the people he was charged to care for. The Lord replaced him with Eliakim, a more godly, dependable and servant-leader example.
The Lord desires servant-leaders who will stand firm in the face of adversity and use their authority justly, responsibly and accountably. The Lord always honor those kinds of leaders.
We need more Eliakim-like servant-leaders, because when any leader reveals that his personal agenda overrides his responsibilities and duties, chaos and conflict surely follows. Sadly, when selfish-leaders see the chaos and conflict, they bail out on the people are focus on their own well-being and legacy. I have witnessed prominent men and women who found their way into positions of influence within the church who only served to promote their own agenda, and the aftermath was never pretty for the people left behind floundering in their stormy wake.
I remember being called into the office of a pastor because as a bible-study leader and former pastor, I had asked about the motives of a special lesson series we were asked to teach to all of the church’s small groups. I found the motive of the timing and purpose questionable, so I made an inquiry. Instead of a discussion when I arrived at the meeting I was berated and chastised. The pastor pointed to his ostentatiously displayed diploma on the wall as to say “how dare you challenge my authority, my qualifications.” Needless to say that was the moment he no longer claimed any right to be my pastor. His suggested at the conclusion of that meeting: “take a ‘season’ off from teaching. His associates in the room sat speechless with heads bowed. I stood up and said, “thank you, I understand.” This pastor then uttered a prayer to conclude the meeting that put a cold chill down my spine. The irony of this meeting, my wife and I took a leave from the church for three months. Shortly after we left, a huge, very ugly church split was led by the pastor of some of the prominent families in this historic church. Hearts were torn, family and friend relationships strained, and a vibrant legacy destroyed in the press. There were no winners; just a flock of lost, scattered and scarred sheep whose pastor stole the sheep that would follow him and abandoned the rest, standing in shock, drenched in tears. When the split was announced at the end of a service, the fighting got so intense one of the wise deacons flipped off the lights in the sanctuary. The darkness marked the impact upon the church.
What kind of leader do you believe the Lord honors? Can you recognize a godly servant-leader? One willing to acknowledge the authority, responsibility and accountability that comes with the position he or she seeks, realizing the Lord is ultimately the authority and example?