It is common for modern Christians to pull the majority of their Biblical understanding from the New Testament. Though this is not a wrong way to approach the Bible, it is an insufficient way of approaching the entirety of the story God is revealing. One element lost when the Old Testament is neglected in study is the wisdom and insight the prophets of God provide modern Christians, particularly in the field of ethical leadership.
A major component of the relationship between God and man is the covenant shared. A covenant is an agreement, or promise, shared between two parties (Fedler, 2006); in the case of God and mankind, God has chosen covenant to glorify himself to the world (Barth, 1994, p. 94) through advocating for mankind, while mankind lives an ethical life as a reflection of the Creator (Gen. 1:27; Fedler, 2006).
The leadership of the prophets served as a vital part to this covenant agreement between God and his people, the Israelites. The prophets were not fortune-tellers, but rather served as “forth-tellers” of the past and present to call God’s people to repentance and the ethical lifestyle reflective of the covenant between them and God (Fedler, 2006). To be a prophet is to reveal, manifest, show forth, make known, or illuminate the necessary information for proper spiritual living and development (Bryant, 1991); they call people back to covenantal faithfulness (Fedler, 2006).
Modern leaders could learn a great deal from the selfless, difficult, and thankless style of leadership the prophets of God have modeled. Their messages developed people in ethical living to honor the covenant with the Creator.
If modern leaders focused primarily on the ethical development of their followers, would the bottom lines of organizations take care of themselves?
Barth, K. (1994). Church Dogmatics. (H. Gollwitzer, Ed.) (1st Authorized English translation under license from T&T Clark edition). Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.
Bryant, C. (1998). Rediscovering Our Spiritual Gifts: Building Up the Body of Christ Through the Gifts of the Spirit (1 edition). Nashville: Upper Room.
Fedler, K. D. (2006). Exploring Christian Ethics: Biblical Foundations for Morality. Louisville, Ky: Westminster John Knox Press.