What makes a good leader?
Open your Bibles to Daniel 4 & 5 for the answer
There’s been lots of gear going down lately regarding good leadership and bad leadership. The Australian Labour Party figured that Kevin Rudd didn’t have the goods to take the party to win the next federal election. So they chucked him out hoping that Julia Gillard will do a better job. What makes a good leader good, and a bad leader bad? What we think about good/bad leadership is insignificant compared to what God thinks about good/bad leadership. What does God think? Daniel 4 and 5 will help answer.
In chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar has another hectic dream (4:1-18). It’s about a massive tree that gets cut down. The stump from the tree (which really sounds like a man), is then forced to live among the wild animals. Daniel is then called into action to interpret the dream (4:19-27). Neb is the tree, and he will live among the animals until he acknowledges “that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (4:25). This is exactly what happened (4:28-37). Neb repents of his arrogance and acknowledges God’s rule over all the kingdoms of the world.
What’s the point? All leaders (and in fact all people) must humbly acknowledge that God is the true king. Any human rule and leadership is to be exercised under the dominion of our Sovereign God.
In the following chapter, Neb’s son Belshazzar is now the king of Babylon. He’s extravagant and worships created things rather than the creator (5:1-4). At one of his block parties, he has this crazy experience where a hand appears from no where and tags some graffiti on his wall (5:5-6). This freaks him out. So Daniel is called back on the field to work out what the heck it means (5:7-17). Daniel kicks off by telling Belshazzar that he’s a tool for failing to learn from the example of his father Neb (5:18-21). Belshazzar failed to acknowledge God (5:22-24) and so he meets his end that very night when he is struck down (5:25-30).
What’s the point? All leaders (and in fact all people) must humbly acknowledge that God is the true king. The outcome for all proud people who fail to recognise God’s rule will, one way or another, is the same outcome as Belshazzar. Death. Judgement. Hell. There is no lasting place in the kingdom of God for those who think they can rule themselves.
Ultimately Daniel 4 and 5 remind us about the type of leader that we need. The pattern throughout the whole of the Old Testament is that humans have failed to rule the world as they should. Israel’s leaders continually failed to lead God’s people, and the rulers of the nations failed to acknowledge that God is the ruler. In the New Testament we meet the leader that Israel and the world have been waiting for. Jesus is the King who “came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
Jesus is King. Jesus is in charge of the universe. Jesus rules and he reigns. Do you acknowledge the rule and reign of Jesus in your life? If not – know that you will be shut out from Jesus’ eternal kingdom. If so – keep trusting Jesus. Know your king.