Being identified as a leader signifies that someone is following or that we have influence over others. One of the struggles that we have at times is that we do not seem to correlate the behavior of those that we lead with our own behavior, unless it is good. When they have attitudes or issues, we often question why they are thinking or behaving in such a manner. Though I already understood this principle, recently while reading my Bible a particular verse reinforced that understanding. It said, “And what the priests do, the people also do.’ So now I will punish both priests and people for their wicked deeds.” (Hosea 4:9 NLT)
As I read this, there were several things that I began to think about as it related to leaders, followers and the results of our actions. So I have been asking these three questions to determine if what I am doing needs to change so that those that are following can have positive behaviors. The three questions are:
What am I doing?
This verse starts out with a statement “what the priests do”. I am a pastor so that specifically resonates with me, but this question does not just apply to pastors or priests. This question applies to any leader. Whether you are leading in an organization, church, business or family, it is good to examine what we are actually doing. What gets our attention? What habits do we have? What things occupy the majority of our time? What do I do?
The thing that most leaders struggle with is the fact that it is easier to overlook our own flaws or weaknesses or to offer grace to ourselves because we know our intentions than it is to offer that same type of understanding to others. Our intentions are rarely what gets followed; it is our actions that are imitated. I have heard people say, “Do as I say, not as I do”, which is an admission that we do not want others mimicking our actions. However, what you do is what people see and they are impacted to do the same. We should examine our actions and determine if what we are doing is a reflection of our intentions. What are you doing?
What are the people doing?
The writer here follows the remark about what the priests do by stating “the people also do.” Leaders must understand that followers implies that those we lead will end up at the same destination we will. Often the actions we do not like that we see in those we lead mirror our own actions as leaders. We may see this most clearly in a parent-child relationship where they exhibit learned behaviors from parents that we wish they did not have. Many of those behaviors are learned directly from their parents. The same is true of every leader relationship, “the people also do”. We cannot exempt ourselves from the correct behavior. We must be the models.
One of the best ways to examine your own leadership is to see what the people are doing. If you are truly a leader, people are following you. The are going in your direction, following your pattern, mimicking your behaviors. What are the people doing?
What are the consequences?
No action or behavior is neutral. Each action brings with it positive or negative consequences. The end of this verse states, “So now I will punish both priests and people for their wicked deeds.” Their actions brought punishment. The reality is that all actions bring some type of consequence. It may be punishment or reward, but it is not neutral. What the leader and the people are doing are creating some type of end result. Though we may say it is not our desired result, it is still the result of our choices and actions.
This is a great question to ask prior to taking action. If we can better determine what the outcome is going to be, it may change our actions. Though you may not always know the exact outcome, wise counsel and deliberate thought can often help you understand the outcome of each scenario. What are the consequences?
There is a children’s song entitled “O Be Careful Little Eyes” and the first line is “O be careful little eyes what you see”. What people see is what will get imitated. This applies to our family, church, business or any place that we lead. I encourage you to apply these three questions your own leadership situation. Each of us can lead better as we have a better understanding of the results we are getting.