Elkhorn Valley District
Today's Lectionary Text
Give the king your justice, O God,
May he live while the sun endures,
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
For he delivers the needy when they call,
Long may he live!
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
The prayers of David son of Jesse are ended.
This is the second time in recent months that I have reflected on this Psalm and its meaning for us today. This Psalm was likely written and prayed upon the King of Israel, possibly Solomon. In December, I reflected upon this Psalm as a call on us personally to care for the poor and oppressed. But in this season of public leadership transitions in the United States, I also think this Psalm provides a blueprint of what the Bible describes as an effective leader, both in terms of substance and form.
Scholars describe several different typical types of leadership: Transactional, Transformational, Democratic, Autocratic, Bureaucratic, Laissez-Faire, or Charismatic Leadership. (You can easily find descriptions on the internet). Each of these types of leadership can be “effective” depending on your definition of “effective,” and we each have strengths that lead us to one or more types of leadership.
But today’s Psalm describes another type of leadership: Servant Leadership. The Center for Servant Leadership provides this definition: “A servant-leader focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong. While traditional leadership generally involves the accumulation and exercise of power by one at the ‘top of the pyramid,’ servant leadership is different. The servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”
The Psalmist does not pray for the king to achieve fame by force of arms or by power of personality, but by delivering “the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.” The Psalmist observes that a biblically effective leader saves the lives of the needy from oppression and violence.
As Christians, we especially recognize this model of servant leadership. Jesus did not lead by using his power to force others to his will. He did not lead by asking what the most popular viewpoint would be. He consistently led by example—by caring for the poor and standing up for the oppressed. He ultimately gave his life for all of us, the perfect example of Servant Leadership.
Although this lesson is applicable to all sorts of leaders (civic, organizational, church), as we have new (and returning) elected leaders taking office at the state and federal level in the United States, I am praying for them specifically. Their work in our polarized nation is daunting and difficult to be sure. But for leaders who are looking for a biblical model of leadership, today’s Psalm provides a plumb line for decision making.
Associate Conference Lay Leader
Prayer for Reflection
God of Grace, watch over our elected and appointed leaders at every level and grant them your Wisdom in their work. Help them to see and respond to “the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.” Through such servant leadership, help them to bless ALL nations in you. Amen.
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