I recently read Ezekiel 28 and paused for some reflection. Ezekiel was a prophet to the exiles of Judah and was declared a “watchman for Israel” (3:17). As such he declared many prophecies on behalf of Yahweh.
In chapter 28 he speaks to the prince of Tyre–or better stated, against the prince of Tyre. Why was God against this leader of this northern city–once an ally of Israel? Not so hidden in the first 10 verses of this chapter are some leadership warnings. v.2 makes the case, “Because your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god, I sit in the seat of the gods, in the heart of the seas,’ yet you are but a man, and no god, though you make your heart like the heart of a god . . .”
The root issue is pride–the outward expression is deification–the sickness lies in the heart. Any leader who leaves the mooring of Scriptures and does not first bend the knee as a leader under authority is prone to this leadership disease. I am currently teaching leaders in Italy that a critical component to being a Christ-centered leader is to first guard your Communion. This is the core of godly leadership. I see this Communion as being composed of three elements–all meant to protect one from the leadership disease of deification: kneeling in submission, cultivating holy affections, and living and leading out of a confessional life.
For this post I only want to focus on the fist aspect–“kneeling in submission”. In my mind this gets at the heart of the problem for the prince of Tyre. If one is kneeling in submission to someone else who is greater–then by definition it is impossible to declare yourself a god. God, through Ezekiel, states that the prince of Tyre was wise, talented, gifted–therefore successful. Sometimes those types of abilities make it even more difficult for a leader to bend the knee to another. They can believe that they are adequate–for anything. God goes on, “because you made your heart like the heart of a god . . . I will bring foreigners upon you, the most ruthless of the nations . . . you shall die the death of the uncircumcised by the hand of foreigners; for I have spoken, declares the Lord.” I have to realize that whether I recognize a sovereign God or not He still exists and controls everything around me. He can grant success and He can take it away–and He does not tolerate a leader’s heart given to lesser loyalties.
As leaders who desire to have an influence for Christ may we never think ourselves a god–that job is taken. May you and I both make it our aim to daily bend the knee as we begin our leadership day.