In the Book of Ezra, there is an account in Chapter 9 about how Ezra, a priest, petitions God. Ezra is ashamed because the people have sinned against God.
In Ezra’s prayer, we read this in verse 6, “O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens.”
Ezra was addressing a particular sin, that of intermarriage. Ezra obviously was not guilty of the sin, but in his prayer, you would be hard pressed to tell. He includes himself in the shortcomings of the people when he says “our sins” and “our guilt.”
I viewed Ezra’s actions (and words) as signs of true leadership. He did not throw the people under the bus; he was right there with them. It was as if he were telling the people, “We are all in this together.”
On Facebook, I asked Dean Hammond, one of the ministers at Parkview Christian Church, and a couple of my former professors at Cincinnati Christian University, Dan Dyke and Jon Weatherly, about the chapter. Here is what I asked: ”… as I am reading Ezra 9, I find it interesting that in Ezra’s appeal to God, he includes himself among those who have engaged in a specific sin, even though it is apparent he is not guilty of it. I see it as a sign of true leadership and a reflection of the community aspect of being a people of God. Any thoughts?”
Dan Dyke said it pointed to community responsibility, and Jon Weatherly and Dean Hammond agreed.
Dean, though, took it a little further: “It speaks of the culture and his personal heart; (a) community worldview rather than individuality. We Americans could take a lesson from his example.”
President Harry Truman had a sign on his desk that read, “The buck stops here.” It is a good thing to see leaders take responsibility and protect those whom they are leading.
If you want to be an effective leader, then you better lead with character and integrity. As Dean teaches in his leadership class, you cannot lead someone where you have not gone yourself.
To be an effective leader, those you are leading must trust you. It is hard to build up trust if you are throwing people under the bus.
Don’t be like Mike. Be like Ezra.
Update: I was on Google+ this morning, and I saw this post: Do You Still Want to Be Like Mike? I just tossed in the phrase because I liked the structure and balance between “Don’t be like Mike” and “Be like Ezra.” But, God works in amazing ways.