Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Leader's Obligations

Leaders are always responsible for providing clear and accurate information. But leaders are also responsible for influencing the attitudes and opinions of those they lead. Consider the case of a story found in the Old Testament book of Numbers chapter 13. Moses commissioned twelve men, one man from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, to conduct a reconnaissance mission into the Promised Land. Their instructions were to spy out the land and bring back a report. This they did. For forty days they surveyed the land, took soil samples, assessed defense capabilities, conducted feasibility studies, plotted topographical maps, analyzed environmental conditions and returned home with a boatload of fruit samples.

Upon their return to Moses they couldn't help but report on the lush fertility of the land beyond. They provided accurate information, but lost their focus. What dominated the leaders' attention was not the opportunity before them but the obstacles ahead. Instead of focusing their attention on the faithful covenant-keeping God and his mighty provisions for them throughout their storied history, they collapsed into fear and unbelief. And the leaders' fear and unbelief ultimately influenced their followers. What resulted was a big-time loss for all.

Leaders operate under obligation all the time. That's why they are leaders. They are obligated to present potential opportunities in light of all the facts before them. But additionally, leaders are responsible to influence the attitudes and opinions of those who follow. It's not that leaders are fearless in the face of insurmountable odds, it's that leaders act and respond faithfully despite their fears.

Whenever leaders capitulate to fear or intimidation, they telegraph that mindset to their followers. And worse yet, they shouldn't be surprised when their followers resort to grumbling or complaining about what's ahead. After all, they took their cues from their leader.