Korah’s kin had a tough legacy with which to deal. He was the one who challenged the inestimably great Moses for the leadership of Israel (see Numbers 16). He lost, badly, and was ultimately swallowed up by the ground as punishment from God for daring to affront God’s anointed servant, Moses. Because of his rebellion hordes of Israelites died. It was ugly. It was painful. And Korah’s kin had to live with this for generations. Clearly, it marked them.
We know this because of their writings. Throughout the Book of Psalms are numerous songs penned by the sons of Korah. They are beautiful, they are poignant, and they cast vision for how one ought to live. Consider, for instance, Psalm 84:5-7:
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.
From these lines come four outstanding principles for all disciples of Jesus Christ, and certainly for those tasked with leadership. Pay careful attention to what follows.
Leaders know their strength is in the Lord. Period. Psalm 84:5 tells us that blessed are those whose strength is in the Lord. Or, as the writer of Proverbs puts it, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but victory belongs to the LORD” (Proverbs 21:31). Our strength, our victory, our successes, whatever they may be, however big or small, come from God. Are you one who asks God to allow his strength to be yours; to flow through you?
Moreover, leaders know to tune their inner-person to the Lord. Their hearts are available to God, so much so that his holy purposes run right through them, as suggested by the “highways” (Psalm 84:5) to God embedded within the hearts of the leaders. This suggests an availability to God that sets these leaders apart from others. “Lord, may the compass of my soul always point to you, my True North.” This is a worthy prayer for any leader.
Also, leaders move toward the funk around them, bringing life-giving solutions. The words “the Valley of Baca” (Psalm 84:6) can also be translated from the Hebrew as “the valley of weeping.” Whether that is a metaphorical valley of weeping or a literal place on the map, it suggests some measure of calamity. But leaders move toward calamity, and when they do they “make it a place of springs” and “the early rain also covers it with pools.” Leaders are not shy about moving toward what hurts with solutions that are not demeaning but life-giving and edifying to others. Do you move toward the calamities around you, or do you run from them? And if you do move toward them, with what spirit? Are you life-giving, or does your presence make matters worse?
Leaders are willing to submit themselves to still greater authority. Mark my words: there is no way a leader can lead well if he or she is first and foremost not a worthy follower of still greater authority. Note that those alluded to in Psalm 84:5-7 ultimately and individually appear before God (see Psalm 84:7). Before God each is accountable for the manner in which he or she has lived life; in which she or he has led. Submission to higher authority—God and his Word, a board of directors, the public trust, the rule of law, and a host of other possibilities for any given leader—is a must. You are not truly leading if you are not truly following. This is a non-negotiable maxim that must exist for the aforementioned values to work. To whom are you yielded? How are you doing? Are you walking in humility or self-absorption? Do not be afraid to wrestle with these important questions.
These four gems help us become better leaders. They have been tested throughout time, and are the antitheses, as the sons of Korah would know all too well, to poor and self-serving leadership. Are they leadership gems you are willing to tuck away in your bag?