When my husband was in teaching, one of the head teachers he served under had very little discipline over the kids. He taught every class one lesson a week in the first year while they were at their easiest to manage, then expected the rest of the staff to cope with the little darlings all the rest of the way up the school through the traumas of adolescence. When they told him about some misdemeanour, he’d be so surprised – “But he’s such a good boy, I can’t imagine him doing something like that. There must be a problem!” Grrrrrr!
In Exodus 1:15-22 Pharaoh was enjoying the power of his status, giving orders as to who could live and who could die. But his leadership skills left much to be desired. First he gave orders to two women to carry out his mean deeds, and murder all the Hebrew boys at birth. Did he really believe their story that the babies were already born by the time they arrived – every time? Without pushing that agenda any further, and without punishing the women for their failure to obey his orders, he went on to Plan B. This time he expected his own people to throw the boys into the river Nile, just as and when they came across them. Where was his planning, where was his legislation, where was his power? He took no personal responsibility to lead on his policy, and it seems he had no authority as a result.
God is the greatest leader. When he created the world, there was no sense of ‘light the blue touch paper and retire’ – letting it just get on with surviving. He actively invested in individuals and nations, carefully teaching them his ways, rewarding and rebuking as necessary. He took responsibility for it, and when things went disastrously wrong, he sent his own son to demonstrate how life should be lived, and to take the punishment for the wrongdoing, to make a way for us to live life right.
What are the things God has given me responsibility for? Do I take time and effort to invest in others, and pass on my skills? Do I notice when people around me get it right – do I thank them and encourage them? Do I take my responsibility as a citizen seriously, and do something about it when I notice that things aren’t being done right? Do I pray regularly for politicians and leaders? I might not have a lot of earthly power, but I can make a huge difference by exercising correctly the power that God has invested in me.