Malachi 2:1-9 Leadership – Authentic Christianity Part 3
Rob Iverson defines leadership: “Leadership is the skill of influencing people to enthusiastically work towards a goal.”
John Maxwell defines leadership as influence – nothing more, nothing less.
T. Boone Pickens said this about leadership: “Leadership is hard to define. You know when you are around it. You know when you see it. We love a leader! I’ve learned that it is what you do to yourself, not what you do to others!”
So leadership is something that first happens inside of the leader. In other words, leadership occurs first in the heart of the leader and is not first evidenced in getting others to do his bidding. This inner focus is something that we don’t like to spend much time thinking about. Introspection can be painful. We prefer to focus on the externals: all of my power, all of my strengths, and all those problems that other people have.
Ultimately, leadership is not so much about what I do but who I am.
If leadership has more to do with who I am than what I do, then Christian leadership to rephrase the previous definition: Christian leadership is the skill of influencing people to enthusiastically work towards God’s goals.
For me as a Christian, I can only be as effective in influencing others for God’s goals, when I let God have influence over my own life.
Beginning in Chapter 2, Malachi addresses the leadership of the nation of Israel. He has talked about love and worship. Because the love and worship of God were neglected as important values, there has been a negative effect. The influence of the priests upon the nation have started to deteriorate. This reminds us of an important truth that runs through the Bible: The type of private relationship that you and I have with God will have an impact in or public ministry for God. If you are neglecting to worship and love God properly, it can have serious consequences. To put it another way:
When you start to reject the very good (but sometimes difficult) influences that God wants to have in your life, it will have a negative impact on your own personal influence with other people. How you receive the influence of God in your life will affect your ability to influence others for God.
While this section is addressed to priests, God addresses their function (or more properly here the malfunction) as leaders to influence the society. When we see it this way, we can apply truths to our own lives that come from their example.
You and I as Christians influence other people. We are to be influencers in the society for God. I have talked many times about the process of intercultural integration. There is a time when everyone of us, when we move and enter a society, we go through a process. We start with an initial rejection, then isolation. As we adapt to the society, we start to integrate into our new society. But if we are to influence this society for Jesus Christ, there is a final step. This final step is incarnation. Incarnation is the idea of influence. Jesus came to earth (human society) to influence the entire world. We tell others about Jesus because He has influenced us. Notice the commandment the priests were warned about:
Don’t forget to – “give glory to My name.”
If you will not hear,
And if you will not take it to heart,
To give glory to My name,”
Says the LORD of hosts,
“I will send a curse upon you,
And I will curse your blessings.
Yes, I have cursed them already,
Because you do not take it to heart.
(Malachi 2:2 NKJV)
Giving glory to God’s name is something that is done not just in worship, but in our witness as well. But how does this play out in our lives?
God says to follow the example of the Levites. How did the Levites influence their society? What was the result of their influence?
First, notice that the Levites took the influence that God had on them. They did not reject the influence of God in their lives. How do we know this? Look at the amount of verses and words that are used to describe how God influenced the Levites. God wants to influence me in the same way:
THE INFLUENCE OF GOD ON MY LIFE
1. God’s covenant produces in me respect for the name of God. (2:5) “so he feared Me and was reverent before My name”
The Levites took God seriously. They prayed to God and asked God for help. They considered God for who He was: The holy Creator who rules their lives.
2. God’s law becomes part of my vocabulary. (2:6) “true instruction was in his mouth”
If you want to have God influence your life, then you need to learn His language. You have to start learning how He speaks. You have to speak His words.
3. I stay in relationship with God. (2:6) “walked with me”
To walk is one of the ways the Bible describes our relationship with God. Everyone of us who knows God through His Son Jesus Christ has learned to walk with God. We should walk everyday with God. When Heike and I go walking in Bremen, it can be a time in which we build up our relationship. We walk and we talk about things. We share our experiences together. The Levites were doing the same thing.
4. I stay away from things God hates. (2:6) “turned away”
There are places that God does not want me to go. There are things that God does not want me to do. Why? Because they would cause me harm. I have to learn to pay attention to that influence. In the Garden of Eden, God warned Adam. In the fields of Sodom, God warned Lot and Abram. God warns us just as He warns everyone He loves.
5. People will want to look to me when they seek God. (2:7) “people should seek the law from his mouth”
People will come to us when they need wisdom and help. They come because they know that God influences you. When they want God’s influence in their lives, they will come running to the first person who has God’s ear. That should be you.
6. I want to speak about God to others. (2:7) “the messenger of the Lord of hosts”
But that is not the only time when people should hear about God is when they need Him. They should hear about God from you from time to time. They need to hear that your prayers were answered. They need to hear that God’s influence on your life helped you. God should have such an influence on our lives that we will want to share Him with others.
7. I prove God’s influence in my life in actions as well as words. (2:6,9) “turned from iniquity” and “kept My ways”
There are times when our actions will speak louder than our words. The charge that God accuses the priests is that their actions did not match their words. The Levites were consistent. They lived honestly and the did not cheat nor lie to God and the people. The Levites walked with God and stopped following patterns of sin that could imprison them. The Levites lived a life of repentance – a truly changed life.
The Levites lived lives that showed God’s influence on them. They shared that influence with others.
Are you giving glory to God’s name publicly around other people? Or is it just a tiny part of your life you want to keep secret?
What kind of influence are you sharing?
For good or evil, families have lasting and powerful influence on their children. … In Acts 12:1, we see the bad influence of leadership on a set of generations in a certain family. Each leader left his evil mark: Herod the Great murdered Bethlehem’s children; Herod Antipas was involved in Jesus’ trial and John the Baptist’s execution; Herod Agrippa I murdered the apostle James; and Herod Agrippa II was one of Paul’s judges.
When I was a little girl my mother would often say to me, “Edith, I know just who you’ve been playing with today.” She knew because I had become something like the other little girl, whichever one it was, enough like her that the girl could be identified by my changed accent, my mannerisms, and other telltale changes. Children often copy other children quite unconsciously. So do adults. We are affected by the people we spend time with, in one way or another. God makes clear to us that not only is it sin to bow down to idols and worship or serve them, but that there is an effect which follows very definitely. People who worship idols become like them.
What does your influence toward others say about the God you serve?