A Psalm for Leaders
In your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice. Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds!
The prologue to Psalm 45 identifies it as "A love song to be sung to the tune 'Lilies.' " The text of the psalm lavishly praises the human king of Israel and his royal bride on the occasion of their wedding. As we read Psalm 45, we might well wonder, "How should this psalm inform my life and guide my prayers?"
Throughout the centuries, many interpreters have read Psalm 45 as a preview of praise for the Messiah. Many of the verses speak of qualities found in Christ. And the king's bride could represent the church (see Ephesians 5:25-33). But I would suggest that Psalm 45 can also serve as a divine word of encouragement for all leaders, not just royalty. This psalm speaks to those of us who are leaders at work, in our families, at school, in our volunteering, in government, in the church, and in any other context in which we exercise leadership.
I am especially inspired and challenged by the imperative of verse 4: "In your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility, and justice." Not that I have much majesty, mind you. But, in my leadership roles, I should be committed to truth, humility, and justice. In fact, these qualities have suggested to me a set of questions that I am going to reflect upon. Let me invite you to join me in this reflection as you think about your life.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: In my leadership roles ... Am I committed to discovering, understanding, and speaking the truth? Am I willing to speak the truth when it is awkward or risky? Do I speak the truth in love? Am I genuinely humble, or do I get overly impressed with myself, my accomplishments, and my authority? Do I lift up the people around me, celebrating their successes? Do I truly value the input of others, even and especially when it is not consistent with what I think? How much am I motivated by a need to see my name in lights? Am I willing to do what's right, no matter what? Do I faithfully and energetically seek to know what's right? Am I committed to treating the people who follow my leadership with justice? Am I always looking out for the best interests of those who follow my leadership? Is my leadership moving our world in the direction of justice for all people?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for the leadership you have entrusted to me. Help me to be a faithful leader in all of these roles. In particular, I ask that I might be a person of truth, humility, and justice. May my leadership be focused, not on me and my power or glory, but on you and your kingdom. May I be a servant leader of all you have entrusted into my care. Amen.
Image courtesy of Laity Lodge, one of our sister programs in the Foundations for Laity Renewal.