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When leadership is lacking

You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. — Ezekiel 34:3

It is a well-known fact that, during World War II, the Nazi leaders of the Third Reich, particularly Hermann Göring, “Die nummer Zwei”—number two man to Hitler—were busy robbing the occupied countries of their art treasures and storing them in secret hiding places for their personal collections.

It has also been well documented that more recent dictators have amassed great treasures for themselves in the vaults of Swiss banks, at the expense of their own people. In fact, many of them, as they have seen their own power and popularity diminishing, have turned their attention away from affairs of state to concentrate on securing their own position and providing for their own well-being.

There is nothing new about this abuse of power. Ezekiel complained, on behalf of the Lord, about the “the shepherds, the leaders of Israel” (Ezekiel 34:2). In those days leaders were often called “shepherds,” and in graphic language, Ezekiel detailed the Lord’s objections to their behavior: “You shepherds… feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve” (34:3).

Concentrating on their own interests, Israel’s leaders had neglected to go “looking for those who have wandered away and are lost… No one has gone to search for them” (34:4, 6).

The Lord’s displeasure with the failed leadership was clear. He told them, “I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock” (34:10).

If God places people in positions of leadership, he expects them to take their roles seriously and to perform them with integrity and grace. For them to show more interest in their own affairs than in those of their “flock,” and to become so absorbed with their own lives that they fail to serve the needs and interests of those placed in their care, will merit divine displeasure.

Every man who has married a wife has been invested with a shepherding role in her life by God. The man who uses his wife for his own purposes, demanding of her sexual favors, expecting from her menial service, insisting that she meet his every whim and satisfy his every desire with little or no thought for her own well-being, should answer the question, “Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep?”

If he does not answer it now—he will answer for it later!

For further study: Ezekiel 34:1-16

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.