Lead Like a Pharisee

In Matthew 21 Jesus tells the Pharisees a parable about an owner of a vineyard, who rents his land out to some tenants.  The agreement seems to be that the tenants will work the land, harvest the grapes, and the press the grapes and the land owner will get a cut.  When the land owners sends some servants to collect his cut, the tenants run them off and even kill one.  The land owner sends more servants with the same result. Finally, he sends his son, yet the tenants kill him also.  Jesus then asks the Pharisees what the land owner should do, and they respond that he should kill those tenants and get some better tenants.

And then, the ah-ha moment happens and the Pharisees realize that Jesus is talking about them.  They are the ones who refuse God’s authority by rejecting God’s servants, like John the Baptist, and ultimately by rejecting His Son, Jesus.  Needless, to say they are pretty hacked off that Jesus totally embarrassed them and decided to find a way to get him arrest.  But the Bible says there was a problem, “And although they were seeking to arrest him, they feared the crowds, because they held him to be a prophet” (Matthew 21:46). The Pharisees were scared to act because they were scared of what people might think or do.

Here is “leading like a Pharisee” principle one, be overly concerned with what other people think.  The Pharisees were controlled by their fear of the crowd.  They were deathly afraid of public opinion.  In fact, their entire lives were centered around making sure they looked good in front of crowds.  They prayed loudly to draw attention to themselves, they obeyed the letter of the law when people were looking, they wanted everyone to know how much money they gave, and they drew attention to their good behavior.  But, their leadership style was based out of fear, because there is only one way to live when your life revolves around people’s perception of you – constantly afraid of looking bad in front of others.  Everything they did was to maintain the appearance of righteousness and leadership.

You and I can fall into this trap, too.  Focusing too much on how other people perceive us will lead to trouble every time and it will prevent us from leading effectively.  We all have areas of leadership,from families to jobs to ministry. If we get caught in what people think, then we are destined for failure.  Instead, lead out of a confidence in Our Father.  Our goal should be to honor and obey God above all else and when we’re placing him first, then what others think will be much less important.  When we seek God first, we can be confident that He will provide for us every step of the way, no matter what others perceive.

Lead well this week.


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