The prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and Hosea prophesy of a time in which people would lose the will and desire to lead. Isaiah writes: "O my people they which lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths" (Isaiah 3:12). Ezekiel writes of a time in which God, "sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it and I found none" (Ezekiel 22:30). Hosea writes of a time in which, "the LORD has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing and committing adultery, they break out, and blood touches blood" (Hosea 4:1-2, KJV throughout).
The contexts of these prophecies reveal that God places great and grave responsibility for Israel's failure on the shoulders of the leadership. As a result of men shirking their leadership responsibilities, God says that He, "will give children to be their princes and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, everyone by another, and every one by his neighbor: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honorable. As for my people children are their oppressors and women rule over them" (Isaiah 3:4, 5, 12).
We Must All Share Responsibility
With such scriptures staring us in the face, we might have the tendency to point our fingers at one another and play the game of whose fault is it. Such fault finding and finger pointing is fruitless. We must all share the responsibility for the condition of the world, our nation, our church and our families.
God gave all of us vital roles to play in providing the kind of leadership that would produce the fruits of a godly people. God gave specific instructions for the rulers of his people: "And it shall be that when he sits upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them; That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children in the midst of Israel" (Deuteronomy 17:18-20).
God gave the priests the responsibility of teaching his law to the people of Israel. Today, God's ministers are to shepherd and teach God's heritage and be examples to the flock.
The scriptures clearly reveal that each family member must fulfill vital leadership roles. The apostle Paul summarizes these roles as follows: "Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. Husbands, love your wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it. Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honor your father and mother: which is the first commandment with promise. That it may be well with you, and you may live long on the earth. And, you fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22, 25; 6:1-4).
As the head of the home, the father must be responsible for providing Godly leadership in the family. God instructed our first parents, Adam and Eve, to look to Him for moral and spiritual leadership. As our loving Creator and Father, He deeply desires to have a lasting relationship with His sons and daughters. Adam and Eve rejected the key to lasting relationships and true leadership. As a result of their rebellion against their Father they fostered the principles of false leadership that plagues the world to this very day.
World Loses Sight of True Leadership
In the western world, leadership came to be associated with the acquisition of wealth and possessions. Wealth brings power and influence. Powerful and wealthy people are the kingmakers, and in some cases, the kings. The kings of the western world sponsored expeditions to the four corners of the earth in search of fame and fortune. Real men were conquerors and builders of a new world. They had little time or energy for moral and spiritual leadership.
Couple this with the fact that Satan continues to seduce and deceive the men in the same way that Baalam taught Balaac to seduce Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. That is, he taught the Moabite women to seduce the men of Israel. These illicit relationships led Israel into the worship of idols (Numbers 25:1-3).
In the western world sexual prowess came to be associated with real masculinity. Real men compared the notches on their gun-figuratively and literally. Add to this the fact that the advertising world bases its commercials on youth, beauty, adventure, sex, and romance and you have the perfect formula for seducing the entire population by training them to covet. "Having eyes full of adultery [adulteress], and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls; an heart they have exercised [trained] with covetous practices; cursed children [having children of curse]" (2 Peter 2:14). The advertising and entertainment world are now exploiting men, women and children by teaching them to covet. The peoples of the western world are led to believe that their worth as human beings revolve around youth, beauty, fun, adventure and sex appeal.
Making the headlines today on CNN news is an inquiry into catchy beer commercials that seemed to be aimed at youth. CNN's coverage of this story showed how partial nudity is used in these commercials to attract the attention of teenagers. Those leading the inquiry believe that these commercials encourage teenagers to buy beer. It is amazing to see how up to date the prophecies of the Bible really are.
As men abdicated their God ordained responsibility for providing moral and spiritual leadership, women and children were left to fend for themselves. Women were the ones who led the way in building schools and churches. Women became the teachers. To this day, 94 percent of the teachers in American public schools are women. As this vacuum in leadership was created, by default women became the moral and spiritual leaders in the western world. Women should be commended for their efforts. There is surely nothing wrong with women serving as school teachers. But they shouldn't have to shoulder the bulk of the responsibility. Research shows that youngsters also need male teachers and role models.
Call For Heroic Leadership
Jesus Christ was a real man and a true leader. Yet He amassed little wealth and He never had a single sexual relationship. Jesus Christ as the Word of God, revealed to us through the pages of the Bible the principles of true leadership. But principles that are not applied bear no fruit. The challenge before the men, women and children of the church of God is to restore true leadership at all levels of their responsibilities. We need heroic leadership at all levels.
We live in a time in which those who would stand in the gap and lead us in the paths of righteousness are despised. Paul warned us, "that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (2 Timothy 3:1-5).
At this critical time in the course of human history we must not abdicate our God-given responsibility to lead in whatever role God has so graciously assigned to each one of us.
What are leaders supposed to do? Leaders must engage the ones they are responsible for leading, in developing and understanding the vision of their purpose for being. They must engage their followers in developing goals for achieving their vision. Moreover, they must develop strategies for achieving their goals. Leaders must keep the vision alive. They must be willing to lay down their lives for their vision. In short, every one of us has to be totally committed to fulfilling our God ordained roles of heroic leadership in our families and in all of our responsibilities.
Focus on Role of Fathers
Since the family is the very fabric of society and God charges the father with the responsibility of faithfully teaching God's way of life, let's focus on the role of fathers.
So what should fathers do? First and foremost God is love and from His love flows all good gifts. As a "doer" God is first and foremost our Creator both physically and spiritually. As our Creator in the spiritual sense, He is first and foremost our loving Father. "But now, O LORD, you art our Father; we are the clay, and you our potter; and we all are the work of your hand. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his son into our hearts, crying, Abba Father" (Isaiah 64:8, Galatians 4:6). So first and foremost fathers should strive to love their wives and children, as our heavenly father loves each one of us. God is continually aware of His creation and looking out for their best interests.
God and Christ are unconditional givers of themselves. "Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought to love one another. We love him because he first loved us" (I John 4:10, 11, 19). Just as our Heavenly Father makes the first step toward us in the reconciliation process, fathers should lead the way in making peace in the home. When disagreements and unrest develops in the family, he should humble himself and take the first steps in leading the family in the way of peace and harmony.
Fathers should show their love for their wives and children. The number one way whereby people perceive love from another person is through the words "I love you." God the Father has freely expressed His love for us, we should express our love to our family and to our neighbors.
Children learn how to love from their parents. If fathers do not express their love through verbal expression and proper physical contact such as touching, stroking and hugging, children grow up in an emotional vacuum.
An article in the Dallas Morning News titled "Fathering," states "Psychologists and sociologists agree that father should be the principal transmitter of culturally based conceptions of masculinity and femininity"! The article goes on to state that "even though a boy seems to need his father most in the first five years of his life, the rest of his childhood also contributes to the man he ultimately becomes. Folk wisdom has always to some extent recognized this. Growing up alongside a father who talks to him, takes a constant interest in him, makes decisions that his son is aware of, sets some limits to what his son may not do, gets his son to work with him on jobs and plays sports with him, enriches and smoothes the transition from young child to adolescent. If father knows how to praise and encourage rather than criticize and undermine, he will learn all the faster" (Dallas Morning News,May 16, 1976).
Research shows that boys without fathers are usually lacking in self-esteem and initiative. They are overaggressive, impulsive and generally less able to follow the rules of society. Researchers conclude that if a boy hasn't learned how to get along with a father, he may always find it difficult to cope with male figures in authority.
So, just as God and Christ have communicated Their love, care and concern for us, fathers must do the same in their families. "Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant know not what his lord does: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you" (John 15:15). Christ set us an example to follow in all things. God commands us to communicate. "But to do good and communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased" (Hebrews 13:16).
One of the names of God is El Shaddai.It literally means "God who nourishes." In addition to providing physical nourishment, fathers should provide emotional and spiritual nourishment. Fathers should lead their families in spiritual activities such as family Bible studies, church attendance and a home environment that reflects godly principles in human relationships.
Just as God is long-suffering and merciful to each one of us, fathers must be willing to forgive and forge ahead. We are all prodigal sons in our heavenly Father's eyes, yet He has wrapped His loving arms around us and welcomed us home with Him. In the parable of the prodigal son, a mere mortal received his long lost son with unconditional love. Heroic fathers will do the same.
Accepting the Challenge
God is looking for men, women and children who will stand in the gap-individuals who will love each other just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. God is looking for heroes. It is the challenge of the ages. Are we, the Israel of God, willing to meet the challenge? If we do, it may be written of us: As for my people fathers are the loving leaders of their families with virtuous wives and children at their sides. WNP