The source of power is God. The purpose of power is to establish God’s will in the sphere of society over which one holds power. When we abuse the power God gives us, the God of the Universe who allowed us to gain that power, will do what is necessary to set things right.
God delegates his power and authority to mankind. There are four areas of society in which God delegates his authority:
1. Family (parents)
2. Employers (over employees)
3. Government (presidents and prime ministers all the way down to the local government officials)
4. Church (pastors and church leaders at all levels)
The problem with mankind at every level is we assume we obtain positions of authority and power because of our own cleverness or skill, but it is God who raises up and casts down leaders according to His sovereign plan. The purpose is to establish His will, purposes and righteousness in every sphere of society. When we leaders are self-centered, angry, abusive or prideful we abuse God’s purpose for giving us power or authority. This is the problem we have in the Book of Obadiah.
Much of the following notes are from the John Maxwell Leadership Bible.
Obadiah, an obscure prophet in Israel, writing to the descendants of Esau (Edom) about 587 BC, addressed their issue of pride and abuse of power and influence. Esau was Jacob’s twin brother. He was an outdoorsman and a hunter whom God scolded after he succombed to lust for immediate gratification (Genesis 25:27-34; Hebrews 12:16). Esau neglected his priorities and lost sight of God’s eternal purposes. God endowed Esau with power, authority and skill to further God’s agenda in his sphere of influence, but Esau became self-centered, angry and arrogant, which became a Generational Curse upon his descendants, the Edomites. The Edomites lived in the high, rocky cliffs and supposed their ingenuity and location made them invincible. They hated their relatives the Israelites and rather than protecting Israel when invaders attacked they gloated, laughed and even joined in on the attack. The prophet Obadiah wrote about this pride.
The prophet’s timeless lesson applies to leaders everywhere throughout history. Pride and treachery lead to destruction, but humility and loyalty gain God’s blessings.
We learn from Obadiah that personal gain, honor, rivalry, competition and comparison are not a good motivation for leadership. Those attitudes affected the descendants of Esau to the point that they lost perspective on the Eternal God who created them for His purposes. They therefore sabotaged their own destiny. How often does this happen to leaders in the four spheres of leadership today?
God hates pride. Through Obadiah He promised to humble the Edomites for their arrogant attitudes and their self-centered world view. They thought they had achieved the success they enjoyed by themselves. Leaders must never buy into the thinking that “they did it all themselves.” There is a Sovereign God working behind the scenes of our life positioning us as a parent, business person or employer, supervisor at our work, government or church leader to accomplish His purposes within our sphere of influence. The higher leaders go (believer and unbeliever) the more we must humble ourselves and declare what King Nebuchadnezzar learned – “The Most High rules in the kingdoms of men and gives it to whomever He wills, and sets over it the lowest of men.” Daniel 4:1-3, 47.
Our success should not deceive us. Leader blinded by pride should be pitied. God will raise up situations to humble them. He will not allow arrogance to continue indefinitely. Generally He gives a warning to leaders through a word from another leader, a failure, a broken relationship, a personal weakness or a plan that fails. If the leader does not respond with humility God sets the wheels of justice in motion. He will execute His justice by whatever means He chooses.
When leaders have the power to do good and extend God’s Kingdom within their sphere of influence and don’t use it, God holds them guilty. James 4:7 Edom misused God’s power and authority and suffered the dire consequences. Lord, help us learn.