Praying for Discernment Day 5: A Discerning Leader
But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. (Hebrews 5:14, ESV)
I am your servant; give me understanding. (Psalm 119:125, ESV)
When was the last time you witnessed a leader without discernment, wondering how they ever made it into a leadership position? I’m guessing it won’t take you long to think of an example. While we may feel disappointed with our governing authorities, it’s not a good testimony to bash poor leaders; that’s not the voice we should want to have. However, it can frustrate us and cause us to doubt their tactics, laws and leadership style. While leaders who lack discernment may run rampant in political spheres, it isn’t the only arena in which we may feel discouraged by a lack of leadership.
Perhaps you work for a company that causes you a lot of heartburn and frustration. On closer inspection, you will likely discover the root cause is a lack of discernment in the upper level of management. It’s natural to find ourselves feeling frustrated and stressed when the leadership in our place of employment is lacking. If you’re feeling that right now, pray for patience and wisdom in knowing how to handle the situation, and know that you’re not alone in your thoughts and feelings. While it’s hard to remain Christlike in situations like this, respecting a boss who makes foolish decisions is still what’s required of us as believers.
As we look at the different spheres of our lives, we may feel—and justifiably so—damaged from poor leadership in our homes. Many homes in the world today are out of balance from God’s original design. God assigned the leadership position to the men but some homes are led by domineering women whose husbands cower under them. They have not learned to lead well and haven’t developed discernment, leaving children confused and frustrated. The average American household is scrambling from one place to another to accommodate the myriad extracurricular activities of the kids, leaving little time for structure, well-placed priorities, and time to enjoy and worship together. Our homes are in need of a discerning leader, and many are, sadly, without.
We can also look at the Church today and see the desperate need for discerning leaders. As discussed earlier in this study, never have there been more complicated issues than what the Church is facing today. It won’t work to just wing it; we need leaders who are in tune with the Holy Spirit, study the Word of God, and pray for wise direction. We need bold, courageous men, willing to stand up for the truth, while demonstrating the love of God. We need godly women who can give wise counsel to the women in need. The Church bears the name of Christ, and He is a God of order, not confusion.
If you are not the leader, it won’t always be easy to follow, especially when the leader is not wise and discerning. So what, then? Do we post about them? Gossip about them? Complain to everyone we know that they are a poor leader? I think the answer is painfully obvious that any of those would be contrary to the teachings of Jesus. I’m willing to be the first to say I’ve done those things—and they are not Christlike; they do not elevate but rather tear down. Instead, we are called to respect them anyway and pray for them. Here is what we read from Scripture: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1, ESV). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1, ESV). “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1Peter 2:17, ESV).
If you are currently in a leadership position, I challenge you to give careful thought to how you are doing—go ahead, grade yourself. Are you making discerning decisions, or decisions based on your personal preferences? Are you making decisions that will benefit others, and not just yourself or a few of your favorite people? Are you seeking to please God with the decisions you’re making, or seeking to win popularity? If you find yourself coming up short, pray that God would give you clarity in the decisions you face. Pray that He will give you courage to stand up for the truth and, in doing so, demonstrate His love and care for those under your authority. Do not lord your position over others and use it to elevate yourself or your agenda. God has allowed you this opportunity to lead. Lead well!