Leader must finds his/her own source of empowerment

Ernest-Onuoha“Then he said to me, ‘This is what the Lord says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. Nothing, not even a mighty mountain, will stand in Zerubbabel’s way; it will become a level plain before him! And when Zerubbabel sets the final stone of the Temple in place, the people will shout, “May God bless it! May God bless it!” (Zech 4 v 6,7)

According to biblical records, as highlighted by Life Application Study Bible, God’s people had been exiled in Babylon for many years. Many had settled into comfortable lifestyles there and wanted to stay. There were however, almost 60,000 who had not forgotten Judah. When Babylon was defeated in 539B.C, the Persian ruler, Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple. Zerubbabel led the first and largest group back to the Promised Land.

Zerubbabel’s leadership was by right and recognition. Not only was he a descendant of David, he also had leadership qualities. When the people arrived in Judah, they were given time to establish living quarters and then were called to begin the work. They began not by laying the city walls or constructing government buildings, but by rebuilding the altar, worshipping God together and celebrating a feast. Under Zerubbabel’s leadership, they established a spiritual foundation for their building efforts. Zerubbabel’s story is told in Ezra 2:2-5:2. He is also mentioned in 1 Chronicles 3:19; Nehemiah 7:7; 12:1, 47; Haggai 1:1, 12, 14; 2:4, 21, 23; Zechariah 4:6-10; Matthew 1:12, 12; Luke 3:27

However, following those first months of excitement and accomplishment, Zerubbabel was discouraged and his discouragement must have been deep. Those feelings eventually hardened into hopelessness. So, God sent the Prophet Haggai and Zechariah as Zerubbabel’s encouraging companions. They confronted the people’s reluctance and comforted their fears. The work began once again with renewed energy and was completed in four years. Thank God that a leader, Zerubbabel got encouragement from the two prophets, particularly Zechariah, who said in terms of leading God’s people and doing His work “it’s not by power nor might but by His Spirit – as He makes every mountain level”… This to a great extent was a trial and turning point in Zerubbabel’s leadership experience.

As political and spiritual leaders, where do we receive our encouragement from at challenging times? It is instructive to note first from the Old Testament how a slave girl was a source of encouragement to Naaman – a leper, before his eventual healing, (2 Kings 5v1-26). And also in the New Testament, before the feeding of 5000, a young lad’s five loaves and two fishes was a source of encouragement to Jesus and He was able to feed 5000 people on the spot, (Mark 6v30-44). Leaders need encouragement, if they must succeed.

It is good we bear in mind that God is always in control and would want us to succeed. We must not let circumstances or lack of encouragement slow us from doing our God-given tasks God.
He made us a promise and His promises are ever sure “for I hold you by your right hand – I the Lord your God. And I say to you, “Don’t be afraid, I am here to help you”(Isaiah 41:13).

Therefore, we are being enjoined today to ensure we explore every necessary source of encouragement that will help us to succeed. But remember, that source must be a Godly source and then we will see Him in action in all our undertakings.

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre,
Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.

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