The book of Psalms found in the Bible is a collection of poems. It is Hebrew poetry. The individual psalms were often sung and recited as prayers or praise to God. Most of the Psalms found in the Bible are penned by King David of Israel. Psalm 101 is one such poem. It is a brief psalm, only eight verses long.
David addresses his poem of prayer to Yahweh. In the opening four verses he makes five declarations. Each declaration begins with the phrase “I will . . . ” David as a leader is taking a stand before God as to the type of leader he wants to be. But don’t forget that this is a prayer also. While David is declaring his intent he is also trusting in the steadfast love of God and the justice of God to make this true of him (see v.1). These are prayer declarations. David is committing himself to lead with integrity. Look at the declarations below.
I will sing of steadfast love and justice
I will ponder the way that is blameless
I will walk with integrity of heart within my house
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless
I will know nothing of evil
I would suggest that we as leaders pray the same declarations before God today. We can’t make these come true in our own strength. We need the grace of the gospel that is in Jesus Christ. Thus, why we pray. Prayer is always an act of dependence. But if the above declarations were becoming more true each day of you and I, think of the difference it would make in our leadership-and the blessing it would be to those we influence. Lead well!
The period of the Judges in the Bible was a tumultuous one. During this time, Israel as a nation entered into cycles of sin that constantly required a deliverer in the form of a judge. The repeated pattern was the following: Israel would sin through idolatry, God would discipline them through conquest by a godless nation, the Israelites would eventually cry out for a deliverer, God would provide a judge to deliver them, and the people would live in peace–for a season–until the cycle began again. Deborah became an unlikely deliverer for the Israelites against a king of Canaan. Deborah was both a prophetess and a judge during a particular season of slavery due to Israel’s sin. Through Deborah, God raises up a deliverer, a man named Barak. But Barak was wise enough to know that there would be no victory without Deborah. So through Debora’s instruction and Barak’s execution, Israel throws off the chains of Canaan. Through this great victory Israel was accorded 40 years of national peace and rest.
In Judges 5 you find the words to a celebratory song from Deborah and Barak. It is an anthem of praise to God and an acknowledgement of his deliverance. It recounts the military exploits that God accomplished through Israel.
What is intriguing to me is verse two:
That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly, bless the Lord!
The opening line to this prayer/song is thanksgiving to God that leaders led and people followed willingly. Isn’t that amazing? At a time of national crisis when leaders were desperately needed God raised up a woman and a man to rally leaders to lead. And when leaders led well, people followed. And that was a reason for praise to God.
There are principles here for us as modern day leaders. As leaders, we too must wholly lead on God in times of crisis. As leaders, we must have the wisdom to recognize the word of God for us (in this case represented through Deborah) and not abandon that word. As leaders, we must recognize that we accomplish little in our own resources and we must be careful to give God praise. When leaders lead well and people willingly follow-we too must give thanks. Lead well!
King David in the Bible faced many leadership challenges. Some were outside his control and some were a direct result of his personal sin. We do not know the exact circumstances that surround Psalm 5 but it is clear that David feels some anguish and senses his need for divine help.
Give ear to my words, O Lord;
consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
David is expressing both an attitude of heart and petition-he groans and he cries out. Notice that David calls the Lord “my King and my God.” David rightfully acknowledges his own dependence and submission as he calls upon Yahweh. Certainly David is facing threats from those who are less than reputable. He speaks of these opponents as “bloodthirsty and deceitful men.” What is the essence of David’s prayer? We find it in verse eight.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.
David the leader prays to be led. He prays for God’s righteousness to prevail and for straight paths. David is crying our for clarity and for vindication. He looks not to his own resources but to God alone.
When we as leaders are faced with half truths and deceptive practices we must also rely upon the One who controls it all. When we may be tempted to grab control and retaliate-we must lean on the One who deeply understands and is able to act on our behalf. David concludes this Psalm by pointing to God’s protection and blessing. David the king places his trust in the King of Kings. Can we do any less?
This week I will be sharing a few brief posts on what I consider to be some worthy prayers for leaders. Prayer is ultimately an act of dependence. When we pray to God we are either giving thanks for who he is, giving thanks for what he has done, or in need of his wisdom, power and provision. Proper prayer is dependence. It is holy communication to one who is sovereign and supreme. And every spiritual leader is in need of bending the knee daily to that authority. As I read the Bible there are many passages that leap off the page as very relevant to the life of a leader.
Psalm 2 is a Messianic Psalm. That means that it is about the person of Jesus Christ. But it seems to be addressed to the leaders of the world. The Psalmist mocks worldly leadership when it chooses to be opposed to God and his purposes. He points everyone to the King, the Son of God, who will possess the nations as his heritage. The Psalm ends with a call to wisdom for all worldly kings.
Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalm 2:10-12
Ultimately, leaders are to “serve the Lord” and to “kiss the Son.” Both of these are acts of submission. Service may be obvious as an act of submission. But to “kiss” the hand of someone was to acknowledge their supremacy over you. Literally this is an act of worship. The Psalmist describes the net result of taking these actions as taking refuge in him. Notice that the consequence of these choices is blessing. Every “ruler of the earth” needs to bend the knee in submission to Jesus Christ. This keeps a leader from the deadly disease of pride and helps to ensure that he or she is leading according to the true King’s agenda.
Join me in prayer today to that end for our personal leadership lives.
I am reading a book called C.H. Spurgeon on Spiritual Leadership by Steve Miller. I enjoy biographies and I enjoy selective biographies that focus on a paticular topic-like leadership.
Spurgeon was a British preacher in the 19th century and was known as the “Prince of Preachers.” He was the pastor of the New Park Street Chapel in London for 38 years. It is estimated that Spurgeon preached to over 10 million people in his lifetime. Here is an outtake from the book on the role of prayer in Spurgeon’s life.
As a busy minister, Charles Haddon Spurgeon cherished the rare opportunities that allowed him time to visit with close friends. On one such occasion, when Dr. Theodore Cuyler of Brooklyn came to Engalnd, Spurgeon invited him for a walk through the woods-another pastime Spurgeon loved yet seldom had time for. During the walk, Spurgeon surprised his guest with a rather unexpected comment. Their conversation must have been lighthearted and even mirthful, for suddenly Spurgeon stopped and said, “Come, Theodore, let us thank God for laughter.” Later, when Dr. Cuyler spoke of this particular visit, he said, “That was how he lived. From jest to a prayer meant with him the breadth of a straw.” That incident is but one of many that demonstrates Spurgeon’s spontaneity when it came to prayer. What stood out above all in Spurgeon’s life as a minister-even more than his extraordinary giftedness for preaching-was his diligence in prayer. Not only was he faithful in the practice of prayer, he also bathed all of life in prayer. In the introduction to C.H. Spurgeon’s Prayers, Dinsdale T. Yoiung observes that ‘”prayer was the instinct of his soul, and the atmosphere of his life.”
Leadership and the role of prayer-here is a life worth emulating and considering. You too might enjoy this book.
Back in September I was in Berlin for an emerging leader initiative. Even then the city was gearing up for the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall-and with it communism in Europe. Of course last week on November 9th the actual 20th anniversary was marked by many festivities in Berlin. As one watched the international media you saw Angela Merkel, Gordon Brown, Hillary Clinton, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Credit was given to the people of East Germany-and to Gorbachev and Reagan as would be architects of this monumental moment. It was amazing to witness the crowds, the fireworks and the long domino like symbol of the tumbling of the wall.
What you didn’t hear in the media was the story of Wilfred and Hannelore Weist. We spent an evening with this wonderful couple as they told us of the hand of God in the collapse of the Berlin wall. They explained how for years East German Christians gathered for prayer. Every Monday they and many others in a prayer network would secretly meet to pray for East Germany-for the persecuted believers at the hands of the Stasi (the East German secret police) and for the wall to go down. Each Wednesday at noon when the East German government would do a trial run of their emergency warning horn over the city-Christians would pray. A few nights before the mass gathering that is credited with the fall of the wall-hundreds of Christians gathered on the east side of the wall to peacefully protest the domination and injustice. That protest is what gave rise to the following one. Hannelore and Wilfred talked of how they trusted God for years to take down the wall that separated the German nation and provided a fertile field for tyranny. They confidently stated how they knew that it was God who broke down the will of the tyrants-not back room politics between the U.S. and USSR. As you can tell by their picture-this couple is jubilant-their joy is contagious and makes you wonder what role persecution plays in developing real joy. Hannelore and Wildfred still live on the east side of the city-and they are still ministering to all who will listen about the love of Christ that marked them in profound ways before and after the fall of the Berlin wall.
I came across an intriguing quote about fasting–in line with this lenten season.
“When I think of fasting, I would define it as abstaining from anything that fills the space inside us that God longs to occupy. Any idols can be fodder for fasting: TV, e-mail, food. The heart of a fast is stepping back from life as it is and conceiving life as it could be.” Heather Webb (found in the book To Be Told
by Dan Allender)
Worthy of thought and practice. Let’s prepare our hearts to be fully occupied by the King.