ne of the critical needs facing our world right now is a desperate cry for leaders. And it really makes no difference as to the arena—political, educational, corporate, social, or religious. The need for leadership is great across the entire landscape. The sheer complexity of the issues that confront leaders on every level and in every corner of the globe demand that leaders—real leaders—step up to the stage now!
The problem is that there is rarely a general consensus as to what constitutes good leaders. What do they do? What do they look like? What essential qualities do they possess? Do we choose them based on pedigree and family connections? Do we choose them because they are “safe”? Do we choose them because they’re savvy? Do we choose them based on academic or social achievement? Do we choose them because they have eye appeal, because of their height? Do we choose them because they are perceived to have vast experience? Do we choose them because they speak well or know the “system”? Do we choose them because they have power (whatever that means)? What are the main criteria, and who determines it?
In reality, no across-the-board consensus exists as to what constitutes good leaders. That is, until we encounter this incredible group of leaders in 1 Chronicles 12:32. As I like to say when I know a good point is coming in preaching: “Hold on to your seat!”
They Knew What to Do
My purpose is not to focus on leaders in general, but on leaders who are called to serve the church of the living God. In the church the demands and qualifications for a leader transcend that of a purely secular leader. In a previous column I wrote about an essential qualification for church leadership being individuals who are Spirit-filled.
The selection process for deacons in Acts 6 indicates what those in the early church considered Spirit-filled leaders. There was a boldness and fearlessness laced with humility in such individuals. Our times demand this kind of leaders as well; which takes me to this great group of leaders in 1 Chronicles 12.
The Scriptures refer to them as simply the sons of Issachar who joined David’s army. By the way, not one person in this army joined the traditional way. They started off as a ragtag group of malcontents and dissidents, all with only one thing in common: they were loyal to David (1 Sam. 22:1, 2). Over time they melded into a highly skilled army that became the envy of their world. The sons of Issachar were part of this retinue, fiercely loyal to their young leader. This band of brothers—these leaders of leaders—stood out even among the other men of valor who fought for Israel.
Here is how they are described in the text: They “understood the times and [they] knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron. 12:32). That’s powerful.
As the old folk in my part of the United States South used to say, “Pull up a chair and let me tell you something.” These sons of Issachar were the “best in breed” when it came to David’s army. They reflected the caliber of leaders required to lead our church into the future: leaders that know the times and know what to do.
As I’ve mentioned, the sheer complexity of the issues leaders confront as we go into the future is staggering. From the frontline, local congregation to the top echelons of the corporate church, the demand is for leaders who not only know the times, but also know what to do, and act with courage and conviction to do it.
The future will be a grand and awesome time. Thus, Spirit-filled leaders who know the times and know what to do must stand up now!
We must pray mightily that God will help them, in Jesus’ name.
Fredrick A. Russell is senior pastor of the Miracle Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.