Encouragement for the Dis-Couraged Leader

designI purposefully hyphenated the word discouraged.

The prefix “dis” is defined this way: “a Latin prefix meaning “apart,” “asunder,” “away,” “utterly,” or having a privative, negative, or reversing force.” (dictionary.com)

So, a person who is discouraged is the opposite of courageous. Perhaps not cowardly, but certainly far from brave.

Unfortunately, this describes many leaders I know. Confidence eludes them. Optimism is a million miles away. Is this because they are poor leaders? I don’t think so. I think the source of discouragement is much deeper than a performance consideration. But rather than dig into the cause of discouragement for leaders, I want to spend a moment exploring reasons to be encouraged.

Think about this:

You see only with your eyes. The true measure of your work is probably unseen physically but it is revealed spiritually. In other words, you don’t know the good you are accomplishing. Don’t get too down over a lack of measurable progress. I think you are having a greater impact that you realize.

You are not called to be successful in the eyes of the world; you are called to be faithful to your God. Our culture measures success by the amount of money and fame we possess. Like the weather, these things can change in a moment. God defines success by faithfulness. You’ll never be a celebrity, but you will be rewarded for obeying the Lord – whether or not you are famous.

You are not alone. Leading is the loneliest job in the world and sometimes the solitude can result in discouragement. Jesus has promised to be with you to the very end. And you have colleagues who care about you. Maybe they are too busy to let you know, but you are important to them. And by the way, don’t be too busy to check in on your leader-friends.

Your discouragement can actually become a tool to help others. Most of the people you lead are currently dealing with a similar issue. They are looking for a way through the puzzle. Who better to lead them than one who has recently escaped from the maze of discouragement? If you stay stuck in the trap of being downcast, they will stay stuck with you. Lead yourself and others out of the cloud of discouragement.

Your hard work and dedication will eventually pay off. One of the sources of discouragement is fatigue. We simply get tired of pushing the rock up the hill with no end in sight. Anybody can be happy when everything is going well. But true leaders have to forge ahead against the wind and in the face of lots of opposition. This can wear you down. But please be aware that the investments you are making now will have big results. It is a spiritual law that cannot be broken – you reap what you sow. If you will be faithful, even in the little things, God will multiply it.

One day, when the journey is finished, I believe that you will receive the ultimate affirmation. The Scriptures tell us that, if we remain faithful, we will stand before the Lord and will hear His words: “Well done good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in the small things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter in to the joy of the Lord!” How awesome is that? While you may not see the finish line, it’s close. Don’t give up!

Rather than offer a lot of spiritual-sounding clichés, here is something practical: It’s the leaders in the world who make things happen. It’s not easy (it if was, everyone would do it!). If you are compelled to be a leader, you must lead. The only other option is quitting and then you become part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Steel yourself; prepare your heart. Strengthen your backbone. Develop greater courage. And if you need help with this, reach out to another leader. They get what you’re going through.

Finally, glean from the truth of this passage: “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God!” (Psalms 43:5)

Dis-Couraged Leader, encourage yourself! Lead on!

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An Artificial Mission

IMG_1633We must stay on Mission!

Dictionary.com defines Mission this way:

  • the business with which a group is charged.
  • any important task or duty that is assigned, allotted, or self-imposed:
  • an important goal or purpose that is accompanied by strong conviction; a calling or vocation:

This is the “why” of what we do. Mission is our meaning, our purpose, that which drives us, the thing that keeps us moving forward. Mission is not just a group or organization thing. Every individual should be aware of his or her God-given mission. You’ve been put on earth for a particular reason. This is your “Mission.”

But, without doubt, all of us get “off mission” from time to time. We create our own “artificial mission.”

Inc. Magazine says: “As every company gets older and matures, especially around its tenth anniversary and after, it can be become difficult to remember the reasons why it was founded in the first place. When you look to those organizations that have been around 30 to 50 years and older, it can be really hard to believe you’re talking about the same place.”

This is true of companies, of churches, and of individuals.

We all experience “mission drift.” This is where we slowly and sometimes subtly veer away from our mission and lose sight of our intended goal.

So, What Happens to Mission?

For those who are called by God to do a work in the world, our Mission is sacred; it is a calling from God. Because of the nature of our Mission, it is perpetually under attack. There is an enemy of the Mission. He will do anything necessary in order to sidetrack you.

This is when what I refer to as the war of attrition can occur. After a season of resistance, pushback and opposition, the Mission can soften. We lose our edge. We can get sidetracked – defending the Mission, debating the details of the Mission or trying to validate how important the Mission really is. Rather than living on Mission, we tolerate substitutes.

Now, enter the concept of the subtle creep of the Mission. It happens one little decision at a time, where you go astray by just a bit. The drift is unintentional and difficult to discern, but it is persistent. And the results are just as devastating as an abrupt and intentional abandonment of the Mission.

“Getting eaten by a whale or nibbled to death by minnows results in the same thing, although one demise is easier to diagnose.” Steve Haas, World Vision

Peter Greer and Chris Horst wrote a great book entitled, Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities and Churches. They say, “Without careful attention, faith-based organizations drift from their founding mission. It’s that simple. It will happen. Slowly, silently, and with little fanfare, organizations routinely drift from their purpose, and many never return to their original intent. Harvard and the YMCA are among those that no longer embrace the Christian principles on which they were founded. But they didn’t drift off course overnight. Drift often happens in small and subtle ways. Left unchecked, it eventually becomes significant.”

Here is the my main point today:

When we begin to fail in regard to fulfilling our Mission, we create an alternative mission.

Because we don’t know how to refocus on the Mission, we create a reactionary mission. We may feel guilty about our lack of progress. We may get frustrated about the lack of positive movement. We may feel pressured to produce something of substance. We need a break from the pressure. So we develop a “pseudo-mission.”

An alternative or reactionary or “pseudo” mission can look like: finances, politics, or the latest natural disaster. Granted, these things are important and should certainly be someone’s mission. But if they are not your God-given mission, don’t allow them to take over your focus.

When churches get off mission from the Great Commission (to make Disciples), they adopt another vision. This mission may be politics. It could be social justice. Perhaps homelessness or prolife issues or acceptable Bible versions can take center stage. But, even though these are important topics, they are not The Mission of the Church. Substitute or counterfeit missions succeed in one thing: to pull us off Mission.

I am learning a great deal about this topic from Todd Wilson’s book, Multipliers; Leading Beyond Addition. Todd discussed the possibility of having a substitute mission that becomes an idol. When we place a secondary issue above that which God prioritizes, we create false idols. Wilson reminds us that church historians have shown that every Christian has two callings: a primary calling and a secondary calling. All Christians share the primary calling of making disciples. The Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 details this. Our secondary callings, (passions, drives, interests and burdens) which drive our activism, must be kept in proper check – subservient to our primary calling.

I love the way Wilson explains this. God gives us our secondary calling to help fulfill our primary calling. It must never be turned around!

What this means to me is Christians must never focus only on:

Politics

Social welfare

Race relations

Pro-life movement

Homelessness

Recovery

Parentless children

Substance abuse

Addictions

Gun control

Elder care

Bus ministry

Feeding the hungry

Church Planting

Church growth

Leadership development

Education reform

Door-to-door witnessing

Divorce recovery

Youth Ministry

You get the idea.

These issues are all necessary and important and vital to our work. But they are not The Mission; they are part of the mission – perhaps a secondary mission.

The thing about substitute mission is it leaves you feeling empty. You work diligently to accomplish it, but once it is accomplished, there is no fulfillment. Or you work hard and expect everyone else to assist. But they don’t because they have their own secondary mission (and get frustrated at you for not helping them!) This is because the substitute is… a substitute. Only The Mission and the accomplishment of it will bring us to true completion.

There is One Mission: Make Disciples. That’s it.

You have one job. You have one Mission. You also have a secondary mission. I don’t know what your secondary mission is but I’m guessing you do. Whatever it is, do that. But please focus on the primary Mission. Don’t get sidetracked. Don’t allow your Mission to get hijacked. It’s too important. If God commissioned you with that mission, the world needs it.

No more artificial mission!


Healing Between the Races: The Responsibility of the Church

design.pngAllow me to begin this article with a disclaimer. I do not claim to be an authority in race relations. While I have studied the issues and have worked in multicultural ministry for years, I realize my limited exposure to the concepts, simply because of my race. In my effort to learn more, I have recently read a variety of authors who more adequately address the topic. Among them are Sean Palmer who wrote Why Christians Are Incapable of Racial Healing http://www.missioalliance.org/confession-evasion-christians-incapable-racial-healing/, Mark Crear, PhD, President, Multicultural Division of AACC, who wrote Racial Healing, Reconciliation, and the Church https://www.aacc.net/2015/10/09/racial-healing-reconciliation-and-the-church/ and one of my long times favorites, Wellington Boone who recently published How to Pray for Racial Healing https://www.preachitteachit.org/articles/detail/how-to-pray-for-racial-healing/ I hope you can enjoy their works like I have.

Our politicians have failed in the area of racial reconciliation. Our country is deeply divided in several ways but one of the deepest breaches is race. Years of training, emphasis on sensitivity and awareness, and legislation has not provided what we need. In 2018, the United States in general and Illinois specifically (my context) is torn and divided by race. We are all hurting and people are wondering if there is any hope. Indeed, many have completely given up.

One of the results of a healthy local church in an unhealthy community is influence. Believers in Christ are commissioned to be salt and light in a broken culture. This basically means that we are not to blend in; we are to be difference makers. When we see illness in our towns and cities, the church has an opportunity and responsibility to display the solutions that are provided by the Gospel. We know that God created all people equal. We know that the Scriptures teach us that we must love others as we love ourselves even, and perhaps especially, when others are different from us. I believe that God is displeased when people discriminate based upon skin color, race or ethnicity. God does not tolerate racism in any form, nor should His Church.

So why haven’t we done better in regard to healthy race relations? We can blame our politicians or legislators. We can point fingers at other races, placing responsibility for reconciliation upon them. But I believe that the Church must do better. We have the opportunity to put on public display what healthy race relations looks like. What could happen if churches of various races came together in the name of the Lord? Most churches are segregated by race. What would happen if God’s children no longer accepted this as normal? Can we imagine the impact of a church that refused to allow race to separate it? How would the world respond to a church that was truly united?

I wish to extend a challenge to the churches in Illinois, as well as anyone I am connected with. I am asking our pastors, leaders and church members to make a concentrated and intentional effort to heal the racial breach in your community. Take the initiative. Accept the responsibility to reach out with grace and patience to people who are different from you. While we are not responsible for how others respond, we are responsible to share the love of God across racial and ethnic boundaries. It will require taking some risks. We will have to be willing to get uncomfortably, surrender some of our preferences and go the extra mile. Tolerating one another isn’t enough. Tokenism and disingenuous overtures won’t work, in fact, they will do further harm. But I honestly believe that we can make a difference and have a positive impact.

How will the world know how to heal the brokenness if the church is just as broken as the world? Our desperate prayer should be, “God, heal Your people!”

And, if you believe that there is no racial problems in our churches and communities, I strongly disagree. Be honest as you answer these rhetorical questions: Is the racial diversity your church reflective of the racial diversity in your community? Would you willingly serve under a spiritual leader (pastor or Bishop) of another race? Do you intentionally try to connect with and build relationships with people from a race different than yours? If your answers are “no”, you may have some issues to consider. Keep believing that there are no race problems among the church and the people around you will lose respect for you, and potentially your church. I agree with the assessment that says that the most racially divided hour in American is Sunday morning. We have to do something about that.

I challenge you – lead the way. Serve someone of a different race. Reach out with genuine love to someone of a different nationality. Find someone who is currently out of your comfort zone and become a true friend.

I recall the first church we pastored. It was all white. This troubled me because our community was diverse. I had seen an African American family living down the street. I did the unthinkable – I went down, knocked on their door and invited them to church. Guess what? They came and became treasured members of the church. It’s not that hard to be a reconciler.

While the problems of race relations will never be completely solved until we get to heaven, the church must offer hope and a better way through Christ.

We are one in the Spirit; The world will know that we are Christians by our love for one another.

 


Embrace Change

IMG_0072It’s been said, there are 2 things that you can count on for sure – death and taxes. Well, obviously, there are more things than this that are inevitable. The love of God, the power of the cross, and eternity are for sure. The Bible says, “Heaven and earth may pass away but the Word of the Lord remains.” I would like to humbly add one more thing to this list: CHANGE. Regardless of whether or not we like it, change always comes. There is no denying it, avoiding it, or outsmarting it. Change happens.

Some change is bad. Deteriorating morals, new definitions of right and wrong, and adding to or taking away from the Bible are most certainly destructive. What is socially acceptable, which is subject to change, is not the standard for believers. We must hold tightly to the standards of God’s Word and His expectations of holiness are never to be compromised.

We must never consider changing the meaning of the Scriptures. But not everything in our church is sacred. Not every method of our worship is holy. The Bible doesn’t indicate if chairs or pews are better, if the Holy Spirit prefers a particular version of the Bible, or what color the carpet in the sanctuary should be. The Message never changes but at times, the method of the delivery of the message must be adjusted. A good example may be music. Music in the church looks and sounds completely different today than it did 100 years ago. A few very large churches back then had pipe organs. The smaller churches had few instruments, but those that did featured primitive acoustic guitars, banjos, and an occasional out-of-tune piano. The fact that there were no sound systems changed the approach to worship, at least how we are familiar with it today. Crowds were generally smaller. People sang loudly because there were no microphones. No electricity or air conditioning created challenges we no longer have. Now, some people prefer things the way they were back then. But guess what? Things changed. Good or bad, times brought about advancements in technology and innovations that resulted in more people being presented with the opportunity to hear the preaching and engage in worship. Some changes are bad, but some changes are good. We must know the difference.

Those who refuse to change really have no choice, change comes to us all, like it or not. Digging one’s heels in only results in being left behind. And even worse, when we refuse to adjust our methods, our voice to the culture gets silenced because we lose touch with the people in the culture.

I encourage you, stay true to your convictions. Never compromise on the integrity of the Bible. Don’t sugarcoat the truth. But let’s not get stuck fighting for an opinion that is merely an opinion. If the Bible says that a particular behavior is sin, it is. But if there is room for interpretation, please respect others and their ability to make decisions as the Lord leads them. One of our fathers in the faith, Augustine of Hippo said, “In the essentials unity, in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” I interpret this to mean that we must stay together in the unquestionable issues – like the basic doctrines of our faith. But in areas where the Bible is not black and white (like preaching styles, types of worship music, or the design of our church buildings), we should allow people to choose their preference. And regardless of what other people think and do, we must love them. Let’s not go to war with one another over tastes, opinions and preferences.

I believe we have a responsibility to know how to apply the Bible to every generation. If I weaken the effectiveness of the Gospel by the way I present it (if no one ever gets saved or discipled), I am wrong if I don’t adjust. If what I am doing no longer works, I must seek God for the changes He wants me to make. My excuses of stubbornness or inflexibility will not stand on judgment day.

Once we die, things will finally quit changing. But until then, brace yourself for change, and lots of it. Don’t allow the pace of change in this world to leave you behind. The world needs us to share the eternal truth of God’s Word in new, creative and innovative ways.

The world is changing rapidly but the Truth of Jesus is eternally effective. Let’s do whatever we can to reach as many as we can for Christ!


I Talk Too Much!

28277096_10156208500674214_2785031100350399211_nI’ve recently been convicted by the Holy Spirit about how much I communicate: I talk too much. I post on Facebook too much. I Tweet too much. I write too much.

What I have concluded is that my motivation for communication is the key. If I genuinely have something to say that may help someone, that is a good thing. If I communicate in order to be noticed, that is a bad thing.

My intention here is to go public with my commitment to do better. So I will let the Scriptures do the rest of the talking here. No additional commentary will be needed.

When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent. Proverbs 10:19

Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent. Proverbs 17:28

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. Proverbs 18:2

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger. James 1:19

Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble. Proverbs 21:23

Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. Proverbs 29:20

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Psalms 141:3

The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools. Ecclesiastes 9:17

I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. Matthew 12:36

Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin. Proverbs 13:3

Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. Ecclesiastes 5:2

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. James 3:6

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear. Ecclesiastes 5:7

In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. Proverbs 14:23

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. Proverbs 18:21

If you have been foolish, exalting yourself, or if you have been devising evil, put your hand on your mouth. Proverbs 30:32

For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. James 3:2-11

But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness. II Timothy 2:16

There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding. Proverbs 17:27

Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time. Amos 5:13

Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips! Do not let my heart incline to any evil, to busy myself with wicked deeds in company with men who work iniquity, and let me not eat of their delicacies! Psalm 141:3-4

Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler. Proverbs 20:19

Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words. Ecclesiastes 5:1-3

Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands? Ecclesiastes 5:6

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Proverbs 26:4

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue: Psalm 39:3

“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 58:13-14

For I know how many are your transgressions and how great are your sins— you who afflict the righteous, who take a bribe, and turn aside the needy in the gate. Therefore he who is prudent will keep silent in such a time, for it is an evil time. Amos 5:12-13

A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. Proverbs 29:11

“Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” Romans 3:13-14

Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil. Matthew 5:37

If you are snared in the words of your mouth, caught in the words of your mouth… Proverbs 6:2

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

A prudent man conceals knowledge, but the heart of fools proclaims folly. Proverbs 12:23

The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near. Proverbs 10:14


People Don’t Quit Churches; They Quit Pastors

27973493_10156191704034214_6689077253968786515_nA few years ago, I arrived at the church to prepare for the morning worship service that was scheduled to begin a few hours later. As I walked across the platform, I noticed a piece of paper on the piano. I picked it up and read a note from the piano player explaining that they would not be back at the church. This was the first I had heard of it. We went ahead with the service; the lady and her family left the church. (However, they did come back and leave several more times in following years!)

Having served as a local church pastor for over 25 years, I have had more than my share of people who left the church I was serving. I am ashamed of the number of people who quit the church under my leadership. It was never pleasant, it always hurt and, with the exception of a couple of very dysfunctional people, I was very sad as a result of their departure.

In the numerous conversations that took place around these departures, most of the talk centered around the concept of people “leaving the church.” Usually people just stopped showing up. A few times, they informed me personally why they were leaving. I have received emails, text messages and phone calls telling me they were quitting the church. Facebook messenger, grapevine and cryptic messages on the church answering service have also worked well. But I can’t recall anyone telling me that they were quitting me, the pastor. But in essence, that is what many of them did.

Complaints by those who leave a church vary. Some involve talk about the music; others cite the lack of programs for their kids. Conflict is a major cause of people leaving the church. Rarely does doctrine come into play. On most occasions, it’s an issue of style or preference or opinions about the operation of the church. The reason I say that people leave a pastor rather than the church is, all of these things are (or should be) under the influence of the primary leader – the pastor. While the pastor shouldn’t run everything in the church, as the primary leader, their philosophy is, in most cases, most predominant. Most people who leave, leave the Pastor.

As a Lead Pastor, if there is an issue in the Youth Ministry, it is my issue. If the music is bad, I own it. If the nursery is dirty, I am to blame. Of course, I am not a proponent of the Lead Pastor doing all of the work. In fact, a micromanaging pastor is a reason why some some leave a church. But the Pastor must provide a level of leadership that influences the entire church.

Regardless of how many people tell me, “don’t take it personally”, it is very personal when people leave. When you pour your life into a group of people, it is silly to think that it is not personal; of course it is. Today, as a church denominational leader, when someone leaves our group, it is personal. People don’t leave our movement; they leave the leader. It’s personal for everyone – if it’s not, your heart has already departed.

I’ll never get accustomed to the pain of losing people. If I do, I am in dereliction of my duty. I can’t fix everything. And sometimes people need to leave a church. But let’s not try to fool ourselves into believing that, in many cases, the pastor is not responsible.

For clarification, I am not writing this blog post to make pastors feel even worse than they already do. That is the farthest thing from my motivation. I am writing this to let people know, leaving a church is a very painful and personal issue for many people. It hurts. Please don’t leave assuming it doesn’t matter to anyone; It does. If a pastor is being honest, it hurts them deeply. I hope we can see a way to avoid this trend – and yes, it is a trend. My advice would be to engage in healthy communication with the pastor long before you make a decision to leave. Perhaps it won’t work, but just maybe it will.

And finally, Pastors, I love you, but we must own this concept. We simply can’t exonerate ourselves when numerous people leave the church. You may not be directly to blame but, as the shepherd, you are in most cases responsible if the flock scatters.

How about if we stick together and work toward making the church as good and effective as it can possibly be?


Can Kickers, or the Hezekiah Syndrome: Selling out Future Generations

27459680_10156150146009214_7268989353369031812_nIt’s commonly referred to as “kicking the can down the road.” This is when a leader refuses to deal with an issue that will have negative ramifications – later. The idea is, as long as I am gone when everything hits the fan, I’m good with that.

One of the most notorious cases of “can kicking” happened a few thousand years ago. The Bible tells the story of King Hezekiah who foolishly showed off all of the national treasures to visitors from a distant land. Isaiah (who was a prophet) addressed the trouble that would come as a result of Hezekiah’s mistake:

Then Isaiah spoke to Hezekiah, “Listen to what God has to say about this: The day is coming when everything you own and everything your ancestors have passed down to you, right down to the last cup and saucer, will be cleaned out of here—plundered and packed off to Babylon. God’s word! Worse yet, your sons, the progeny of sons you’ve begotten, will end up as eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.”19 Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “If God says it, it must be good.” But he was thinking to himself, “It won’t happen during my lifetime—I’ll enjoy peace and security as long as I live.” (II Kings 20:16-19 MSG)

This is a little shocking. How, in good conscience can a king show such disregard for his family and descendants?

Take another look: Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “If God says it, it must be good.” But he was thinking to himself, “It won’t happen during my lifetime—I’ll enjoy peace and security as long as I live.” In other words, I really don’t care about what happens to people in the future – I’m OK.

Prototypical “kicking the can down the road!”

In a nutshell, here is the root of the Hezekiah syndrome:

Selfishness: when leaders care more about their wellbeing than that of those they lead, the phenomenon occurs.

Shortsightedness: when leaders can’t anticipate the long-term results of their decisions, those in the future may suffer.

When leaders don’t care about those who will come behind them, careless and even cruel decisions can be made.

When leaders are too weak to make decisions that are good for their progeny, the Hezekiah syndrome will reveal itself.

And this last “root” is worth focusing upon.

It is possible that leaders in 2018 may make decisions (or refuse to make decisions) that will hurt their children, grandchildren and many generations to come. If I am hurting the future by ignoring an issue today, shame on me.

If you are a leader and you observe a problem that may hurt others down the road, and if you have the capacity to address that problem, it would be a dereliction of duty to let it go. True, the results may not come about on your watch but it is immoral to be able to prevent future pain and not do so.

Leaders, our children need us to be strong. Our grandkids are counting on us having a backbone. If we see a problem that is fixable, fix it!

Now, apply the principles of the Hezekiah syndrome to your family, your business, your church, your community, your country… Your descendants will thank you!