The Heart of a Godly Leader

Bible Book: Habakkuk  1 : 1-4
Subject: Leadership; Godliness; Heart

Take a minute and look around you at the people in this room. Even though we think we know almost every person in this room, there is a good possibility that the person sitting on the same row with you has experienced or is experiencing deep hurt, deep heartache, or carries a deep burden which you would have no idea and would never guess. At the same time, there is a good possibility that you carry a hurt, heartache, and/or burden which no one else would ever believe.

My question for us tonight is this, “What is it that evokes hurt, heartache and burden within you?” Seriously consider that which troubles you most deeply. Last weekend, via DVD, Beth Moore began her loving well message to our ladies by revealing one of the reasons for the developing of a hard heart was the “love of one’s self”. Paul writes to Timothy that in the “last days” men will become “lovers of one’s self.” Does it take something personal to give you a hurt, a pain, or a burden? What if it’s happening to your country, community, culture, or even your church? What then?

The United States of America is arguably the greatest country to ever exist on the face of this planet. While we are a great nation, to take a look around should cause the child of God (who sincerely look) pain. This country, founded on the ethics, principles, and beliefs of God’s word, is now abandoning these in lieu of a “feel good” mentality. This should be a burden for every believer. This type of thinking destroys countries and erodes cultures. If you look around at the condition of our nation, while at first, we may think it’s encouraging to know, it should be frightening that a similar situation is found in the Southern Kingdom of Judah during the time that Habakkuk wrote. Please turn with me to Habakkuk 1.

The book of Habakkuk was written during a dark time in Judah’s history. Admittedly, there was a seemingly “superficial revival” going on, but truthfully the country was steeped in idolatry, immorality, violence, and debauchery. Of all the things which might have been going on in his personal life, the man of God saw the big picture and was hurting.

The book of Habakkuk is one of the most unique of the prophets. The entire book is a conversation between the prophet and God. Let’s read.

We are in the middle of a hotly contested Presidential race. One of the reasons this race is so hotly contested is because America needs some real and godly leadership. This is not only true on the national scene; it is true at the state level, the county and city level, as well as in the local church. Being a godly leader (over being a good leader) can be compared to being a statesman over being a politician. A politician makes decision which propagates his political career while a statesman makes his decision which propagates the country he serves and the people who depend on him.

We don’t know much about the prophet Habakkuk but we can see his heart. He saw things which no one else seemed to see, He prayed prayers which no one else seemed to pray, and wanted more for his country to be a godly place like no one else even thought it could.

These first four verses give us a look into the heart of Habakkuk. I will submit three attributes or qualities found in him which is needed today.

I. The Ache of a Godly Leader

We see his ache and hurt in verse 1. The HCSB uses the word ‘burden.’ Other translations and paraphrases use words like “problem, divine revelation, and even message.” But the interesting thing is that this is the message that he ‘saw’, the problem God gave Him to ‘see’, and even the divine revelation that he ‘SAW’. The godly leader can actually see or visualize the problems plaguing their followers’ verses the secular leader seems to have difficulty discerning what the real problems are.

Please understand that addressing real problems is much more difficult than focusing on the peripheral issues. What national or local, the easy way out is to always focus on the “felt problems” instead of the real problem. The problems which most people WANT to talk about are only the symptoms of the root problems. In verses 1 through 4 we can read a laundry list of problems; Violence, injustice, wrongdoing, oppression, strife, and conflict in the nation. While this is a serious list of tough issues and we see that Habakkuk has a hurting heart to see how his people are being subjected to violence, injustice, and oppression, he knows that these listed troubles are only a symptom of a larger problem. A godly leader doesn’t only want to relieve the symptoms; he wants to affect a complete cure. He knows without a cure, it is only a temporary fix.

By our pool house the previous owner planted some “bushes”. They were a nuisance! In fact, one of them was so close to the wooden steps that, over time, the bush dislodged the steps to the point they were unsafe and had to be rebuilt and installed. Know what I did before I installed those steps? I got my shovel and dug up that bush so it would never grow back.

This is exactly what a godly leader desires to do among his people. He doesn’t just want to trim away those issues which may be center stage, he wants to dig up the root and get it out. The problem is that he can see the problem when no one else can so he is trying to fix what no one else thinks needs repairing.

The residents of Judah, obviously, didn’t see the same problems which Habakkuk did. After all, things were good by worldly standards. Money in the bank (that’s always #1), commerce on the up tick, and generally things felt pretty good. Yet, it is beneath the façade that the spiritual leader sees the problems and carries the burden.

II. The Assessment of a Godly Leader

As he ends his first prayer of this book, Habakkuk gives an assessment or evaluation of the result of all the wrong which is happening in Judah. I suggest this can be readily applied to the UNITED STATES and possibly to the local church. When oppression, violence, strife, and conflict, are front and center in a culture there are some effects which can be seen.

Let’s make an application of this. Today in the United States of America we see conflict like we have never before seen. We see it in the disintegrating of homes. We see it in decaying morals. We see it in the dying commitment to truth and law. We see it in the disappearing of religious freedoms. Habakkuk identifies and names the outcomes. This could be a platform speech for the president in this year of 2008.

A. Troubled Land

Verse 3 gives us a picture of this. Imagine Habakkuk looking over his land and seeing all the wrong things taking place, things we’ve already mentioned and what do you think is his impression? Instead of seeing people who are enjoying their life he sees people who are afraid to come out from behind their closed doors and he sees people who are afraid to unlock their doors.

They are full of fear. Why is this? Why are they troubled? Because looking at this culture and the visual problems, they recognize;

B. Twisted Law

Habakkuk points out that the legal system is no longer working in the land. Does this sound familiar? Consider this; In America today we see strife, conflict, and violence on the rise and the question becomes what happened to the law of the land? A woman is raped and the criminal pleads out his case and is back on the streets in a few years to rape again. A person is murdered and through our legal system the murdered gets a deal and after some time he is back living among us, once again. We simply wait for him to kill again. A teenage mom throws a baby in the garbage can hoping he will die---and had she consulted the right doctor only a few hours earlier, the doctor could have extracted the baby in pieces. Then putting the pieces of the baby would have been perfectly legal! Talk about twisted law!! Please listen when law is twisted in any way, it can come and twist YOU one day. Twisted law will almost inevitably lead to;

C. Trapped Lives

Look at verse 4, “the wicked restrict the righteous.” The word ‘restrict’ literally means to surround and limit. Two years ago in San Antonio, Deb and I had the opportunity to go through the Alamo. The Alamo was a massacre because the Mexicans had the Texans (and friends) surrounded. Those inside were basically trapped. From time to time a messenger got out to attempt to retrieve help, but they couldn’t get away in mass because of the Mexicans. They were surrounded. This is exactly what happens in a society turns away from God and toward the darkness. The illustrations about this concept are more than we can mention in this message. Today in the UNITED STATES, you are free to believe anything you want unless you happen to believe in Jesus. To be a disciple of Christ is to be almost a dangerous thing today. Think about the scrutiny placed on George W. Bush and Sarah Palin concerning matters of their Christian faith. The unbelievers have literally surrounded the good and godly leaders of our nation and are attempting to hold them captive.

However, God always has the last word, Habakkuk knows it. Watch.

III. The Appeal of a Godly Leader

The appeal Habakkuk makes is this, “How long Lord, do I have to ask before you respond?” You get the idea from Habakkuk that he had been praying for quite a while asking God to do something and thus far, God had not responded. The heart of a godly person, not just leader, is for God to respond and make right all the wrong that exist. The Godly leader wants the place to be safe, secure, and even spiritual.

Looking in verse 2 we can know what a godly person appeals to God for. He wants God to both hear and listen for starters. There is a difference between listening and hearing. Hearing means listening with understanding. Also, the “Godly person” wants to God to hear and respond. In His word God says, “Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and unsearchable things that you do not know.” The godly leader wants the Father to hear, respond, and SAVE.

Truthfully, being a godly leader is a huge responsibility. I think of this story: Brenda Goodine shares a story about her friend who decided to talk to her bright four-year-old son, Benji, about receiving Christ. “Benji,” she asked quietly, “would you like to have Jesus in your heart?” Benji thought for a few minutes and then rolling his blue eyes answered, “No. I don't think I want the responsibility.”

The Godly person (not just leader) has the responsibility and wants to fulfill his responsibility to the fullest.