When Christian leaders fail, it is often because they try to impose their agenda instead of accomplishing God’s mission, like Jonah, the reluctant prophet. Leading by following God’s way can save many heartaches and unnecessary woes. Ezra’s life shows an excellent example of walking the talk. Ezra’s success in his ministry can be attributed to four crucial Christian leadership practices: preparing our hearts, studying God’s word, practicing God’s word, and teaching God’s word.
Preparing Our Hearts
Ezra’s ministry began with a right relationship with God. The Bible says that the “heart is deceptive above all other things,” needing intentional discipline (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV). Heart preparation begins with repentance and accepting God’s forgiveness. It requires a decisive stand, committing to God’s will and plan for your life. Preparing your heart is like setting a personal compass in the right direction for your life’s journey. When Christian leaders set our relationships right with God, the ripples are felt in our homes, churches, and work environments.
Studying God’s Word
Ellen White emphasized that “the Bible is God’s voice speaking to us, just as surely as if we could hear it with our ears.” Many leaders miss out on this great privilege and opportunity to listen to the voice of God each day. Before his ministry, Ezra made sure to connect with divine wisdom from the voice of God in the Torah, the Bible of his time. John MacAuthor noted that Ezra memorized the Torah and taught it from memory during the return from exile. Leaders make critical decisions each day. Wouldn’t it be wise to be guided by wisdom from the omniscient God? Bible study enables God’s ambassadors to fulfill His mission in His way.
Practicing God’s Word
It is one thing to know the truth and another to practice it daily. Today, many Christians live double lives, professing one thing and living otherwise. The success of Ezra is attributed to his devotion to not just the study of God’s law, but also to its observance. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” This bold statement reminds us to strive to be Christlike. We cannot be like Christ if we are inconsistent with our Bible study and disobedient to His Spirit’s leading.
Teaching God’s Word
During Ezra’s time, he confidently taught the Torah from memory. He was able to do this because he knew it by heart and had spent his entire life obeying it before becoming Israel’s prophet, teacher, and leader.
Ezra’s entire life is a true embodiment of walking the talk. Our church needs modern Ezras in our organizations today. By preparing our hearts and by learning, practicing, and teaching God’s word, we can be the exemplary leaders that our organizations need.