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
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.