How a person treats “the little people” or “outsiders” tells you a lot about a person’s character. I once remember interviewing someone with great credential for an upper level job. On paper and in the interview, this person seemed like a perfect fit. But afterwards, I learned that this potential hire had clearly mistreated (with arrogance) a lower level administrative assistant in the organization. That changed everything I thought about the quality of the character of the person.
Most leaders are gifted. They have vision and drive and a capacity to instill both in their followers. Usually, this means the person has an excellent command of language so as to move others to feel as she or he does. But such strengths can be easily cloaked in deceptive languages and what could have been good is used for a bad purpose, most often that of personal gain.
How much more dangerous if the leader combines these gifts with spiritual/religious language. Notice how the cloak of good things could easily cover up evil outcomes:
GOOD WORD ==> CLOAKED INTENT
- unity your opinion doesn’t matter
- trust don’t question my actions and decisions
- truth believe as I do or you are out
An Evaluation Tool Better than Words?
Check how they treat vulnerable people, people who do not tend to listen well, people who need lots of attention due to their weaknesses. See how they talk about those who work for them and who get little public glory. Do they blame underlings for their mistakes. Do they receive criticism well? Do they talk in “we” language (vs. “I”) and back that talk up with giving glory to others where it is due? And finally, how do they describe their enemies or those who are not part of the cheerleader squad?
For all of us who have any leadership, let us remember God’s strong warning to shepherds in Ezekiel 34. False shepherds are those who
- Use the sheep for personal gain (milk, wool, meat)
- Starve the sheep
- Not cared for weak, sick or injured
- Not sought after the lost ones
- Ruled with harshness
- Abandoned the flock altogether
These are God’s enemies, destined for destruction. But we are not left in the dark about what a good leader looks like. Ezekiel 34:11f provides the test of a true shepherd, God himself. He finds, rescues, brings back, feeds, provided pleasant places and peace. He will bandage and heal and bring justice.