One television program that I love to watch with my family is on the Food Network. It begins with a restaurant owner who has been experiencing unexplained losses in revenue, declining employee morale, or some other negative phenomena. So, the owner brings in the show’s host to plant hidden cameras in the restaurant. As they sit in the private control room and watch the monitors, they are able to determine who and what the problem is.
As I try to develop three leaders of my own, I typically will talk my three boys through the show. One thing I want to make clear to them: The employees who are problematic that are being watched on the hidden cameras typically aren’t the ultimate problem. The real problem is often the person sitting in the chair watching the monitors who calls himself/herself the leader!
It is typically because of their poor leadership that the work culture they are spying on exists. They sit in condemnation and with growing contempt for what they created (or at least allowed to grow by their incompetent leadership).
It is certainly not true in every case. That’s why this is a ‘general’ truth.
Some parents do a wonderful job raising their children. Yet, their children leave home and decide to reject most if not all that they were taught.
Some bosses do a fantastic job and yet they end up with a knuckle-headed employee or two.
Some competent pastors have a heart and head to lead their congregations who are content to bicker or simply refuse to follow that leadership.
Yet, the general leadership principle is this: Given enough time, the leader is ultimately the one responsible for the atmosphere of the organization / church / family / etc.
This truth is illustrated in Numbers 16-17. In Numbers 16, the people of Israel complained (yet again!) about their leaders. So, God created a situation in which his approval of Aaron was obvious.
“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel to bring you twelve wooden staffs, one from each leader of Israel’s ancestral tribes, and inscribe each leader’s name on his staff. Inscribe Aaron’s name on the staff of the tribe of Levi, for there must be one staff for the leader of each ancestral tribe. Place these staffs in the Tabernacle in front of the Ark containing the tablets of the Covenant, where I meet with you. Buds will sprout on the staff belonging to the man I choose. Then I will finally put an end to the people’s murmuring and complaining against you.'”
After the staffs had been left in the Lord’s presence all night, we read the following:
Numbers 17:8 (New Living Translation)
“When he went into the Tabernacle of the Covenant the next day, he found that Aaron’s staff, representing the tribe of Levi, had sprouted, budded, blossomed, and produced ripe almonds!”
What separated Aaron’s staff from the rest? Fruit! Aaron’s staff miraculously produced fruit while the other staffs produced nothing at all (which is exactly what we would have expected from a dead staff).
The tell-tell sign of leadership is what we produce (or what God produces through or for us).
Some hear this principle and resent it. They look at who/what they are leading and don’t like what they see so they want to outright reject this leadership principle.
Yet, if we embrace this principle, it gives us hope! As leaders, we have the ability to greatly influence the culture of those we lead. So, let’s get busy! There’s work to do!