Are you a woman who leads? Maybe you don’t see yourself as a leader, but God has you leading someone right where you are. Maybe it’s your kids, your friends, or the teenager next door. Maybe it’s a Women’s Ministry, a team at work, or a small group. This series—led by our women’s ministry specialist Kelly King—will help you no matter where you lead, and whether you’re leading one or one thousand.
Harry Truman once said, “Leadership is the ability to get men to do what they don’t want to do and to like it.”
I’m not sure if Harry Truman knew a lot about the Bible’s minor prophets, but his words could be said of some of the Bible’s lesser-known leaders and their unpopular messages. Minor prophets like Jonah, Amos, and Malachi are reminders that leaders must choose how they give difficult news and how to have courage to say the hard things. It’s easier to give good news and be people-pleasers. But the reality is there are times the Lord may challenge you to speak difficult truths and be the bearer of difficult messages.
How can you be a leader who does this well? How can you deliver difficult messages and still maintain relationships? Here are three things we can learn from some of our minor prophet heroes.
- Leaders must have the courage to not run away from unpopular messages.
Jonah received specific directions from God to go to Nineveh and preach repentance. We all know how it went when Jonah ran the opposite direction—he was thrown overboard on a nautical voyage and spent three days in the belly of a fish. As leaders, if you have a clear message that seems difficult, don’t run from it. Pray for courage to face your fears and follow the Lord.
- Leaders must be sensitive to the current reality but bold in sharing the consequences of unconfessed sin.
The sheep-breeder Amos had several visions for Israel’s future, but tucked away in the very first verse is a key phrase: “what he saw regarding Israel in the days of King Uzziah of Judah and Jeroboam son of Jehoash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.” Before calamity hit, Amos observed and saw the condition of his people. As a leader, are you examining and looking for the stumbling blocks of those to whom you are ministering? When you see people in blatant sin that you know will result in future calamity, are you willing to speak the truth in love or do you watch from a distance and wait for destruction to happen? A good leader will lovingly confront and walk with people through repentance and restoration.
- Leaders with unpopular messages always proclaim God’s character and keep the focus on the gospel, not their own personal agendas.
Malachi’s message of the nature of God and the covenant member’s relationship and responsibility to follow God did just that. Malachi 3:1 reminded the listeners to prepare the way for the Lord’s coming, a fitting ending to the Old Testament as one turns the pages to John the Baptist, the cousin of Jesus who would make way for the ministry of Jesus. As leaders, if we’re not careful, unpopular messages may be born out of the idol factories of our own hearts and our personal agendas. Instead, our messages should reflect all of God’s character, including His goodness, righteousness, and even judgment. We must always point others to and prepare the way for the hope and salvation of the gospel.
Unpopular messages are, well, unpopular. You aren’t responsible for the response of those who receive your message, but you are responsible to stand up for biblical truth, even when it’s hard. Be courageous and ask the Lord to give you sensitivity and strength, even in the midst of a culture that often rejects truth.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for Lifeway Women. She and her husband, Vic, have been married for more than 28 years and have enjoyed serving together in ministry both teaching in student ministry for 25 years and teaching young married adults. They have two young adult children, Conner and Courtney, and a son-in-law, Gaige. They enjoy kayaking, having people in their home, and cheering for the Oklahoma City Thunder. A good day includes mocha lattes, Mexican food, and shopping for bargains.