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September 2013 - Leadership Lessons from Zechariah and Malachi

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Dr. John KlineFor the past nine months we have examined leadership lessons from books of prophecy in the Old Testament.  This month we conclude with three lessons from two prophets—Zechariah and Malachi. Zechariah who challenged the people to learn from the mistakes of the past is remembered as an encouraging prophet, a visionary whose writings contain more Messianic prophecies than perhaps any other book except the much longer book of Isaiah.  Malachi focuses on several things, including the importance of setting a standard for excellence. 

Leaders must learn from the past.  Zechariah begins (1:1-6) by saying even priests—the leaders—have come to despise the Lord and forgotten how past leaders successfully led the nation. Harvard professor, George Santayana said, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." But it takes more than just remembering; leaders must learn from both the successes and failures of leaders who came before them. Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, and Deborah are examples of earlier leaders who were successful.  Leaders must learn from the past.

Leaders must be encouragers. Zechariah, a younger contemporary of the prophet Haggai, taught encouragement through his words and actions (See: 2:3-13; 8:1-22; and elsewhere). Zechariah used visions (picture stories) to encourage the people. He focused on how things could and should be as he told the people to “take heart” for things will get better.  In the last chapter of his book, Zechariah encourages people by prophesying the second coming of the Messiah who will save them.  My friend and colleague, Dr. Jack Hawkins, Chancellor of Troy University says, “Leadership is the management of hope.”  Leaders must encourage and provide hope to followers.

Leaders set standards for excellence.  The people are not giving their best because their leaders are not giving their best.  Malachi challenges the people to give their best (1:7-8; 3:6-12). The United States Air Force has three Core Values.  The key words are: Integrity, Service, and Excellence. If leaders possess integrity and have a heart to serve, then excellence will follow. Followers must see leaders set the example for excellence. Without excellence, groups, organizations, corporations, and countries will fail.

The columns on Leadership Lessons from the Prophets have presented contemporary lessons; that is, lessons that apply to us today as much as they did over 2000 years ago.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

September 2013 - Leadership Lessons from Zechariah and Malachi
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