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August 2013 - Leadership Lessons from Habbakuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai

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John A. Kline, PhD jkline@klinespeak.com
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Dr. John KlineFor the past eight months we have examined leadership lessons from the books of prophecy in the Old Testament.  This month we look at three prophets:  Habbakuk, who listens to the Lord before he acts to tell how the corrupt Chaldeans will be used to cleanse the people.  Zephaniah, who reveals that leaders should “get their act together”—both attitudes and actions. Haggai who says leaders should get their priorities right, if they expect to prosper.

Leaders must be listeners. The book of Habbakuk was likely written around 600 B.C. at the time of the fall of the Southern Kingdom to the Babylonians.  When Habbakuk asked God why this was happening, he learned that this was a call for people to “live by faith” (2:4) and stand in awe before Him. (2:20). By listening, Habbakuk knew what to say and how to act.  Many times leaders simply don’t listen and then act in error.  Leaders must listen to those in authority, but also to their followers.  I know listening is important; that is why I have written three books and several articles, and spoken often on the subject.

Leaders must realize change begins on the inside.  Zephaniah, who preached slightly before Habbakuk, warned that leaders must have the right attitudes on the inside if they are to demonstrate the appropriate outward behavior.  Personal experience confirms what I learned nearly five decades ago from the researchers in the fields of communication and social psychology.  If I listen to a motivational talk or a sermon looking for mistakes of expression, I will hear them.  If I focus on what I can learn and how to uplifted, I will be motivated and my behavior will show it.  What we think determines how we act.

Leaders must set the right priorities; put first things first.  Haggai, who ministered a century after Habbakuk and Zephaniah, told the people before they could expect to be blessed, they must complete the construction of the temple.  The people responded, built the temple, and blessings followed.  Leaders must set right priorities—those that bring the desired long-term results.  All too often leaders attend to the expedient rather what serves the others and the organization and enables long-term success.

While there is much profit (pardon the pun) from looking at the theological significance of the messages of these three prophets, they also present significant lessons on leadership.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

August 2013 - Leadership Lessons from Habbakuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai
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