In my journey through the Bible this week I came across two interlinking principles. The first is the last verse of the book of Judges: "In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes. (Judges 21:25)" The issue here is not the monarchy but a lack of leadership. In Judges we read that leaders were raised up to meet a specific crisis (foreign invasion or other difficulty) but otherwise people pretty much went their own way and did their own thing. I'm all for a little non damaging anarchy from time to time but for a people (whether a nation, a community, a church, a family) no leadership leads to chaos and a diminished hope for the future.
The second passage comes up in 1 Samuel 3 where Samuel receives his "call" from God. In 1 Samuel 3:1 we read "the word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread." I believe this passage is interconnected with the Judges passage. Here's how: Leaders are bearers of the vision, they are gathers of resources, people, ideas, possibilities, and they live out their lives projecting and promoting a different future. Leaders are agents of change and new possibilities. Because there is no king (read: leader) there is also no bearer of new possibilities (read: vision).
Leadership is the critical component of moving to a new future. Leadership is the bed rock foundation of new possibilities. When I look at the church in the world, and the floundering "Old Line" denominations, I see an organization lacking in leadership. We have no king (queen, even a crowned prince or princess might help); we have no vision for a better future; therefore we are floundering.
Back in the 1960's it was common to refer to governmental and other institutional leadership by the old parable of the emperors new suit of clothing. The tag line was that no one had the nerve to tell the emperor that he was naked. The line: the emperor has no clothes. Unfortunately, in our time, and, apparently, in ancient Israel, the phrase might need to be reversed. It appears that often the clothes have no emperor. We have people in positions of leadership who are not leading and have no compelling vision or plan for the future.
Everything rises and falls on leadership. Lord, send us leaders.