Ruling Justly in the fear of God
Vicar Writes – Ruling Justly in the Fear of God
God of Israel has spoken; he Rock of Israel has said to me: When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light, like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning, like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth. - 2 Samuel 23:3-4
Having served in spiritual leadership since my teenage years, I realised that reflection is needed in the area of church leadership and authority. If un-reflected, it is quite easy for a pastor to fall back on his own experiences or unknowingly, lead out of his own familial/societal culture or the cultural milieu of the day. This is the challenge of discipleship - not just for our members but for every spiritual leader in the church as well – to walk in the way of Christ in the way we pastor and lead.
There are some good books written over the years. The best way however is to model it, so that leaders around us can also pick up the good values. However, the Church in Singapore is considerably young. Missionaries who came from older Christian societies can help. This is also one reason why we interact with spiritual leaders from other cultures.
I came across these verses while doing the daily office last week. I am reminded again of these foundational values for spiritual leadership. While I may have authority as a pastor, am I executing it justly? As I look back at my years of ministry, I have some deep regrets of unjust decisions which stumbled others and got them in positions which they may never quite recover from. I am just thankful that these were far and few in between.
Conversely and thankfully, many have been blessed by “just decisions”. These indeed “makes grass sprouts from the earth.” Righteous decisions very often result in a good soil which will fruit over a few generations. I can think of the many who have continued in ministry (fulltime or lay) and have moved on to inspire others. Likewise ministries which have developed and matured. I am not alone in this of course and many pastors will be able to attest to their own fruitfulness. Beyond just people and ministries, I trust we are passing on robust Christian values to the next generation which have been forged out of our cultures.
So what is “just”? I wish I can list out what this may mean or try to define it. But every pastor has to ask: am I a just leader? Link to being just is the “fear of God.” It is a consciousness of God, a humble submission to His will and love, which can guide, restrain and make wise our leadership decisions. This means we will be prayerful. This means that we will do a lot of listening. We will self-examine our motives so that decisions are not made from bias or other hidden motives. As after all, the heart is deceitful above all things, as the old prophet has said.
The rewards are great when leadership is exercised justly and our of a fear of the Lord. The sun will shine. Plants will flourish. Flowers will bloom. Fruits will grow. New seeds will sprout. And the cycle continues, lasting into many generations.
Time will indeed reveal. And in the end, it is God who is glorified.