Society of Leaders

by Morris Ruddick on August 5, 2012


(c) Morris E. Ruddick


“Arise, shine, for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has arisen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples. But the Lord has arisen over you and His glory will be seen upon you. Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising.” Isaiah 60:1-3

These are extraordinary times. They are times when knowing-what-to-do takes something more.

Mounting turbulence in global affairs shouts that it no longer is business as usual. America is divided. China is pursuing economic dominance. Russia seems intent on regaining its role as bully. Iran is plowing a nuclear pathway. Israel has been targeted for annihilation. International economies are being blind-sided with short term fixes. Globally, beguiling policies mask realities. Terrorism is a global threat and lawlessness abounds. In all this, more than two thirds of the world’s population lives under what the Psalmist calls oppression, affliction and sorrow.

The issue is one of power, as the time-clock hastens toward the power shift of all ages, described by Isaiah.
“The abundance of the sea will be turned to you. The wealth of the nations will come to you.”
Isaiah 60:5

In the midst of the churning, God has a plan and a strategy. It involves a dimension of “something more” than the best of what the world has to offer.

This something more has historical precedent with the biblical heroes of faith. Joseph the Patriarch demonstrated it under the most adverse of circumstances. Daniel exercised it when immersed in a culture of sorcery. David, as a most unlikely candidate, prevailed with it and ushered his people into a time of great unity and peace.

The mark of the “something more” is neither position nor throwing large amounts of funding at the problem. The something more is a factor of leadership; an influence that brings change from within. Despite Joseph and Daniel being slaves, they never gave in to a slave’s heart. As wise stewards of their mantle they faithfully served, and brought God into the equation as they were blessed to be a blessing and in the process wielded change that released God’s purposes.

The “something more” is at the heart of biblical leadership.

A Most Unlikely People
The “something more” required to make a difference begins with discerning the strategy God gave the Jewish people, which has enabled them to not only retain their identity, but with disproportionate achievement to serve as catalysts and influencers to the civilizations that would rise and fall around them; like the Greeks, the Romans, the Assyrians, the Ottomans and on and on.

We live in a world seduced. It is a world in which the perception is deemed the reality; where black is seen as white and evil is considered good. The Bible refers to this as the “bondage of corruption.” Yet, from the beginning God has had an answer through those known by His Name who, through Him, have been, are and will be a light to the world.

Over the ages, the Jewish people have fulfilled the words of Moses that they would be the head and not the tail. Today with only one-fourth of one percent of the world’s population, 27% of all Nobel laureates have gone to Jews since 1950. As a people, Jews have been disproportionate achievers and contributors.

Historically, in civilizations without a middle class, the Jewish people have served that function, as merchants and bankers and people of business. They have been advisors to kings, rulers and leaders and financed national agendas in the societies in which they lived.

Yet, as a people, the Jewish people have been distinctive. As a people, they have released nuggets of wisdom from God’s Word that have become the foundations; economically, governmentally, judicially, and morally for what we now call Western civilization. Jewish strategies have resulted in them outliving, as a people, the civilizations of which they have been a part.

A Most Unlikely Strategy
The something more involves a leadership strategy that defies the wisdom of the world; indeed, the wisdom of the ages. Driven by the spiritual, it joins together community to operate as one with the economic. It is a strategy that merges an identity, a spiritual maturity driven by trust and discipline, along with a unique power to form a leadership; all of which is demonstrated “as a people.” It is a strategy of righteous power in a corrupt world.

Righteous power builds and brings increase; it wields influence, and is a catalyst for opportunity that brings blessing to those in its sphere.

This leadership strategy begins with a grasp of God’s purpose for His own (Genesis 1): to exercise dominion and subdue the earth. Then with an identity and faith in God, as demonstrated by Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David and many other heroes of faith, the mantle is gleaned from Abraham, to be blessed to be a blessing. The model also is from Abraham: of the God-centered, entrepreneurial community.

Within the community of God’s people will operate the progressive stewardship of the gifts of its members. Proverbs 31 describes this community-focused entrepreneurial dynamic. The process was outlined by Moses: with a focus on order, ownership and increase.

Deuteronomy 17 outlines the discipline required for leaders: which carries an emphasis of embracing and constantly living according to the principles of God’s word. Then from Moses’ father-in-law Jethro, are the steps within the community to nurture and develop leaders. These combined dynamics represent the foundation of Jewish roots and culture from which the strategy of biblical leadership is derived.

Foundations of Jewish Culture
These foundations begin by depending on God and responding to Him with an excellence in employing the model and the mantle. It operates with an identity of being a culture within a culture. It is a nurtured community that expands and builds itself up through trust and tz-dakah.

Its nature is entrepreneurial with a combined thrust of work, service and faith. Its government is self-regulated and originally designed to be self-sustaining. Increase results from the stewardship and service derived from the confluence of the combined gifts of its members.

It exerts leadership on the surrounding community through God-centered wisdom, service and influence. Its advantage is the spiritual authority to employ righteous power within the world’s structure, with an impact that like Daniel, holds the potential of being ten times better than the best the world has.

In short, these foundations of an identity, maturity, power and leadership “as a people” are God-centered. The result actuates the impact outlined by Moses in Deuteronomy 28:15 of being “the head and not the tail.”

In addressing the realities and turmoil of the times, the growing disparity between light and darkness point to the need to pulling it together in applying righteous power in a corrupt world.
“In the time of the end, many shall be purified and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.”
Daniel 12:3, 10-12

Completing It All
Jesus came to do just that: to bring fulfillment, completion to the foundations found in the Jewish roots of the faith.
“I came not to destroy the law and the prophets, but to fulfill.”
Matthew 5:17

Punctuating the long-accepted strategy of the Jewish people being a culture within a culture, He noted the importance of our distinctive identity within the world.
“You will be in the world, but not of the world.”
John 17:15, 16

Jesus went on to warn us of the challenges of being a unique people of God.
“These things have I spoken to you, that in Me you might have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

He also made it clear that the mantle of Abraham, to be blessed to be a blessing, would require our light to shine clearly in the world, in order to point the way to God.
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”
Matthew 5:16

As these factors work together, God’s people are called to transform peoples and nations by teaching them the principles of righteous power by which we all are to live. These principles are what He referred to as the principles of the Kingdom.
“Go, make disciples of the nations, teaching them to observe all I have shown you.”
Matthew 28:19, 20

The pathway of the Kingdom is as a paradox to the way the world operates. Its focus on God’s power rather than ours underlies the premise that in our weakness His strength is manifested. It incorporates an identity of not being like everyone else.

It is a culture of honor that is derived from humility. Its people share a purpose of making their assets work for them (parable of the talents). It stresses ownership without greed, in which ownership increases by sharing. It demands service by which growth comes by generosity; by giving to others. Ambition and destiny are defined by losing your life to find it (dying to self) and advancement coming by yielding. Leadership is demonstrated by serving. Change is brought about by influence. Finally, but not least, perfect love eliminates fear.

Leadership Pathway
So Jesus came to restore the foundations, as it was in the beginning; with the model operated by Abraham. He came to lay an axe to the root of the alliance between the misguided religious elite and the corrupt rulers of the worldly realm.

Jesus came to impart the foundations for true leadership and the strategy and authority that would destroy the works of the devil and the bondage of corruption; to release God’s Kingdom rule.

I once asked the Lord why the places He sent us with our economic community development program were such difficult spiritual environments. His answer was immediate and very clear: because His power is best demonstrated by the opportunity and change created in impossible situations. So, it has been with the examples shared in previous posts.

Biblical Models of Leadership Strategy
Throughout the history of God’s people we have models of the impact made through God’s leadership strategy. Abraham demonstrated it to the world around him with the God-centered entrepreneurial community model. Isaac (Genesis 29) was a light to the surrounding societies, when by heeding God’s voice, he sowed in famine and against all odds reaped abundantly when no others were achieving growth.

Joseph the Patriarch, with a clear God-centered identity, demonstrated the mantle of being blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 39) and became a catalyst of influence in harnessing the resources necessary to give refuge to God’s people and bless the Egyptians in the process. Moses outlined the community response for God’s people, as a people in giving strict heed to the voice of the Lord (Exodus 15).

David embraced God’s heart as the pathway of his destiny and brought God’s people into a time of Kingdom rule. Hezekiah brought restoration, liberty and spiritual authority to God’s people against numerically more powerful foes. Daniel reshaped and redirected the spiritual climate of the society of which he was a part. Nehemiah gleaned the favor to gain access to the resources of the worldly realm needed for restoring God’s people to their roots.

A Society of Leaders
In short, we are not called to be or to operate like everyone else. We are called to be in the world, but not of the world. We’re called to be the head and not the tail and to make a difference and to bring change.

Kingdom and Jewish leaders replicate themselves and mobilize community. They are paradoxes to the way the world operates and employs power.

God’s footprint over the ages has been ordinary people doing extraordinary things through the simple things that confound the wise. From this has come the “something more” dimension; a leadership exhibited by God’s most unlikely candidates, employing God’s most unlikely strategies that has brought about the most unexpected results when those know by His Name achieve the maturity to operate as a society of leaders.

At the core of this strategy is righteous power; the power to overcome the impossible. Paul gave a glimpse of the outcome of this Jewish leadership strategy as releasing the power that would raise the dead (Romans 11:15). Isaiah similarly described a people (Isaiah 58:10, 12) who would operate with a power to rebuild the ancient walls and be the repairers of the breach; a mantle with the ability to fix virtually anything.
“Teach them the principles and precepts and show them the path in which they must walk; then give them the work they must do. Then select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and make them to be rulers of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.”
Exodus 18:20-21

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