Ezra 7:9b-10 “. . . the good hand of his God was upon him. For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.”
Leadership is a highly sought after position. We dream about it, spend hours preparing for it, and train our children to achieve it. Often we ruthlessly push our way forward, trampling anyone who gets in our way. Recently Abigail observed that many who call themselves leaders are really just bossy individuals who like to be up front and in charge. So what really makes a good leader anyway?
Powerful Traits of a Good Leader
A Forbes.com article suggests a number of powerful traits of successful leaders. These include such things as: self-management, strategic thinking, effective communication, goal setting, and flexibility, to name a few. All of these are crucial to successful leadership. But when it comes to Christian leadership there are a other necessary traits to become the type of leader God desires.
Ezra, a good example of a strong and godly leader, exhibited many of the Forbes.com traits, but he also had something else going for him. This priest and scribe returned to Jerusalem from Babylon where he led the people of Israel in a much-needed religious reform. He was very successful not only because he was good at self-management, communication, and many other leadership skills, but mostly because God was with him.
Scattered throughout his book Ezra gives credence to the fact that “the hand of God was upon me.” This benefit caused Artaxerxes, the king of Babylon, to grant all Ezra’s requests. God’s hand gave protection over 900 miles of travel. It strengthened him when times got hard. It provided a strong support staff for all that needed to be done. It provided protection and deliverance from enemies and ambushes his group faced along the way.
God’s hand upon Ezra’s life was not something that just happened haphazardly; God chose this man to be a leader, but Ezra determined to do things God’s way. He didn’t force his way into the presence of King Artaxerxes and demand that he be put in charge. He didn’t summon up all the force of his personality and trample on others to get his way. Instead he devoted himself to three things.
Preparation to be a Spiritual Leader
First, Ezra prepared himself by carefully studying the law of the Lord. In order to be a good spiritual leader he needed to be well versed in what God commanded. Secondly, he humbled himself in order to personally obey all God expected. Only then did this leader attempt to teach others what God’s call for them was. This humble servant-like attitude is the reason that God’s hand was upon him. And these were the reasons for his successful leadership.
In today’s world everyone is striving to be a leader. Even within a church setting our goals are often to be up front teaching, leading worship, and making decisions. These are not bad desires but our way of realizing them is crucial. Successful leadership is not solely dependent on our personality, giftings, or ability to get things done. True successful leadership can only be realized when God’s hand is upon us. Like Ezra, we must set our hearts to study God’s Word, determine to live it, and then out of the overflow we will be able to humbly and successfully lead others.