God raised up the prophet Ezekiel to pronounce judgment on the Israelites for their persistent injustice and idolatry. At times, God showed Ezekiel just how low the people and their leaders had fallen, as they reveled in their detestable practices.
I expect it must have been difficult for Ezekiel to be the bearer of such bad news. But, as his eyes were opened to the despicable sin of his people, his heart could easily have become hardened. He could have begun to despise his people and relish the chance to condemn them.
Ezekiel 9:8 shows that this did not happen to Ezekiel. As he heard of God’s judgment on the people of Jerusalem, he fell on his face and cried out: “Oh, LORD God! When you pour out your wrath on Jerusalem, will you destroy all that is left of Israel?” The prophet did not say, “Let ’em have it!” Rather, he bore witness to his compassion for the people, in spite of their many sins.
As leaders, no matter the context, we will only be fully effective if we care deeply about the people whom we lead. This does not mean, of course, that we will always be “nice” to them. Sometimes leaders have to say and do things that are anything but “nice.” There are times when we must be respected rather than liked. But, even when we have to be tough, we must still seek, by God’s grace, to care for the human beings God has entrusted to us. We must ask the Lord to keep us from becoming hard-hearted, even as we continually ask him to bless those in our charge.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Have you ever had a leader who seemed not to care about you? How did you experience this person’s leadership? In places where you are a leader, do you care for those you are leading? How can a leader remain compassionate with someone who is unresponsive and maybe even subversive?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the example of Ezekiel. He encourages me to keep my heart open and tender in my leadership. Help me, Lord, to love people even when they don’t deserve it. Help me to care deeply about each person you have entrusted to me. Keep me from writing off people, even if their efforts fall below my expectations. May I never harden my heart against those you have called me to lead.
All praise be to you, compassionate and merciful God, King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen.