We’re going to take a page from the book of Deuteronomy.
Now, we are in Talk 4 and before I give you the big message, I want to do this first.
We are in Chapter 17 verse 18. It says here that Moses is talking to the Israelites and giving them instructions, guidelines, for a king that they would need, and he says:
I just want to point out one statement where it says when he sits on the throne of his king, he must copy for himself the body of instruction on a scroll and he must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives.
Moses is trying to tell the Israelites something that’s very simple. What he was saying? He was simply telling them: You need to be a Bible nerd. You need the Scripture. You need to learn how to meditate this day and night.
One of the lessons that I’m learning— and Bro. Bo kind of hinted it a bit earlier– is that as you grow up in life, you’re going to discover that God’s calling you to be a leader. What are the qualities that God wants you to have for you to be a good leader?
As a leader, you need the Lord more than ever. You need Him to guide you.
You need His Word. You need Him to transform you. And that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Our big message right now:
You know, in life, there are people we see who are natural-born leaders.
You don’t even have to know them personally. Even from afar, they look like they fit the mold of a leader.
The same is true that if you have natural-born leaders, you also have natural-born followers– and I know that because I’m that person. Before I even preferred leading— Bro. Bo knows this– I preferred serving. I preferred following. I’m that kind of person who, you tell me what I need to do and I’ll go ahead and do it. Give me the orders, give me the instructions, and I’ll do them. I’m a follower.
But I also believe that God is calling each one of us to be a leader. God is calling you to be a leader. If you are still young, you might not feel yet that God is calling you. But there will come a time in your life when God will call youto lead.
And you don’t have to lead like a big organization yet. Maybe it’s leading a small group, a Light Group, your classmates, your section, or maybe you can upgrade that a bit. God calls you to be a leader.
You Are CEO, COO, CFO
My good friend, Bro. George Gabriel, shared this with me many, many times.
Long time ago, before he left for Australia, before he passed on being The Feast leader to me, he said: “Auds, I love you too much to not let you experience leadership.”
The message sounded so deep. At first,
I actually didn’t understand it. But overtime, as I’ve grown into the mold of becoming a
leader, I understand that perfectly now. You are a leader not just in the sense of leading a Feast, for instance. But you are a leader also in being a husband, being a better lawyer, being a better brother, being a good father. That’s what leading is all about.
But here’s a question: “How do you become a good leader?”
It starts with self-leadership. Because if you’re not a leader yet– and you don’t feel like you’re a leader– at the very least, you need to be able to lead yourself.
Because do you know that you are the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of your life?
It’s the reason some people, they have trouble in life because they’re trying to pass on that role to other people.
Here’s a news flash: This job as a CEO of your life, it’s a lifetime job.
You cannot retire from it. You can’t merely outsource that job to somebody else.
But here’s the other thing: You’re not just the CEO, you’re also the COO (Chief Operating Officer), and the CFO (Chief Financial Officer).
Sometimes, you’ll realize that your schedule might be messed up, and you’re unhealthy because you’re not exercising. Maybe it’s because you’re not performing your duties as COO– you’re doing a poor job. Or maybe because your finances are all messed up and investments are out of whack. Maybe it’s because you’re not doing the right job as the CFO because that’s supposed to be your job.
Leadership starts with self-leadership. And as God grows you to become the leader that you are, then you become a leader to other people.
And this is what’s very tricky– because we’re going to talk about leadership and Moses is going to share with us four different types of leaders of Israel.
Who Gets To Be Superior
Let me talk to you about this first: Leadership is all about having authority. It’s all about having power– who gets to be superior.
But here’s the thing: There are two ways to exercise your authority.
Your authority can be rooted in your position– your title in life. If you own a company, then you are the authority. If you’re a parent to your children, you’re in authority– because they have to obey you.
The other type of authority is not rooted in the position. It’s rooted in your love for people. It’s rooted in affection.
I’ll give you an example. We have a five-year-old at home– his name is Ethan. When Ethan was growing up, because we were parents, he would obey us. And we would teach him how to obey his parents, rightfully so.
But I’ve noticed this: That Ethan would obey me only when my voice would get a bit louder, when I would get a bit mad at him, angry at him.
You know when your kids are young, you want them to learn to be disciplined– how to obey you. But I also realized this: That when he gets older, I don’t want him to obey me and give me authority to his life simply because I have a loud voice.
I want — and this is my prayer– that when he grows up, he would give the authority over his life to me because he knows that I love him.
Authority cannot be forced. You cannot coerce people, especially children, to follow you.
But here’s the thing: You know when that person loves you, you’re going to follow that person, right? That’s how God is. The reason we follow God is not so much because we’re afraid of hell. It’s because we know that God loves us so much that He would give the best to us.
That’s good authority– because it’s rooted in love. It’s rooted in that affirmation that God simply loves you.
Now, we are in the journey of Deuteronomy. This is where we get a bit technical. Moses is talking to the Israelites and he is saying, Hey, Israel needs four kinds of leader: judges, kings, priests, and prophets.
Take note: In the olden days, we used to have the idea that kings are usually the ones who have full authority. They have higher power than the priests and the judges, and the prophets.
But in the beginning, God actually designed it this way: that no person in Israel had the authority over the others. They are all equal. But He was more powerful than the other.
The lesson is simple: That no one is above the Lord.
So, even if you are occupying the top seat in your company, even if you’re
the president, or the emperor, or the king of that little island of yours, guess what? God is still more powerful than you. You are still under God’s authority, and that’s good news to a lot of us, right?
The first that Israel needs are judges. This is the point where they’re now scattering to the different parts of the Promised Land according to the 12 tribes of Judah.
And Moses says this to the people:
“I want you to appoint judges and officials for yourselves from each of your tribes in all the towns the Lord your God is giving you. They must judge the people fairly.”
It’s not explicitly said, but the way I read this when I was studying this is that the instruction was you get a judge from your tribe.
You know, that’s a practical principle because if you get somebody who does not know your culture, does not know your behavior, does not know your story, chances are you might not judge fairly. I learned this from our leader,
Bro. Alvin Barcelona. He taught this to us: that whenever you’re making big decisions, the first thing you need to do if you’re a leader is you need to look at both sides of the story. Don’t make a decision if you’re just seeing one side.
And that’s what Moses is saying: If the person comes from the same tribe, chances are he will know the background of the people, right?
And then it says here: “They must judge the people fairly.”
Question, how do you judge people fairly? How do I know if I’m going to judge these people with impartiality? Moses said the answer in verse 15.
He said, “You must never twist or show partiality.”
Who Is a Good Judge?
Filipinos, this is something I believe you can relate to. We have this ugly culture– a toxic culture called the padrino system. It’s like where you can gain promotion or obtain favor by knowing the right people, having the right connection. Just because you know this person, you can get that position.
This gets us all the way back to the Spanish colonial period because that’s what happened. If you wanted a seat in government, all you needed to do was go to the Spanish official. Or a wealthy Filipino– usually in a form of a friar— to be blessed with that position.
You know, the sad part about this is that it still happens today. We see this everywhere– in organizations, in companies, in the government. Sometimes, you see leaders who are not really equipped for that job position but the only reason they got that job appointment to begin with was not because they had the right skills– but because they had the right surname.
It’s the padrino system.
Why should the judge be a good judge?
Because a good judge must never play favorites. That’s what Moses is saying: Never twist or practice partiality. Don’t play favorites. A good judge is somebody who will treat a billionaire the same way he would treat a beggar– regardless “if you do something special for me.”
A good judge needs to mirror God’s goodness. Does it encourage you to know that God is a good judge? To know that all the injustices you’ve gone through in your life, at the end, God will correct all of those.
Indulge me for a moment. Can you just imagine if the padrino system is practiced in Heaven.
At the gate, there’s St. Peter.
And you are like, “Ninong! Do you recognize me? Your godchild?
Can you just let me in? Your gift to me?” He let’s you in…
Thank God, there’s no padrino system in Heaven.
God Cannot Be Bribed
Moses said this: “God is somebody who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. He ensures that orphans and widows receive justice. He shows love to the foreigners living among you and gives them food and clothing.”
News flash: You cannot bribe your way to Heaven. There’s mercy but there’s also justice. God is good and He would judge us according to His ways because He’s a good judge.
Moses also said this, “You too must show love to foreigners, for you yourself were once foreigners in the land of Egypt.”
This changes our perspective.
This is the reason you need to treat the CEO of a company the same way that you treat a random beggar on the street.
It’s because we’re all the same. We are all foreigners in this land. We’re all just adopted and accepted because of the grace and mercy of the Lord. Thank God for that!
That’s the reason we need to love every person because we’re all the same.
God says we need kings.
And take note: That during this time when Moses was deliberating this, there was no king in Israel. But they wanted a king because they were so jealous and envious of the other nations who had human kings. They did not know they actually had a king—God was their King.
But here’s the problem: If you want somebody else to rule your life more than God. That’s why you get into trouble– because God is supposed to be your King, you worship God alone.
But the Israelites wanted a human king and they kept on telling Samuel they wanted a king. (1 Samuel 8)
You remember the time when we studied the life of Saul?
Moses said, “Be sure to select as king the man the Lord your God chooses.” They wanted a king and they demanded Samuel for a king and eventually
God said, “Okay, look for this man named Saul.”
Saul eventually became king– but we all know that Saul started strong but he ended wrong– because he was such an insecure leader.
Saul was the first king of Israel. Saul was a representation of a king chosen by man.
On the other hand, David, who came after Saul, was regarded as the greatest king of Israel. He was a representation of a king chosen by God.
Now, what is the lesson here?
Be very, very careful. Always pray and discern about the leaders that we choose.
Why? Because when we select poorly, eventually we suffer greatly. So, we need to be sure about the kings that we put into place.
How can we determine if this person is going to be a good king? Or if this person who is leading us is a good leader?
Qualifications of a Good Leader
Moses says three qualifications: “The king moreover must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them for the Lord has told you that you are not to go back that way again.”
And then second qualifier he says, “He must not take many wives or his heart will be led astray”, and then the third one, “He must not accumulate large amount of silver and gold.”
They symbolize something. (What a leader must not have too much of.)
The first one, he says, a good leader must not acquire a great number of horses.
I want you to know that during that time, 3000 years ago, horses were regarded as weapons. They didn’t have guns and technology back then. So, horses were their weapons.
Do you want to know what their tanks were in the ancient times? Horses connected to chariots.
Do you want to know what their missiles were? Soldiers riding on horses.
So, God is simply saying: “I don’t want you to put all your trust on weapons.
I want you to put it on Me because I’m your greatest weapon.” Did you know that God is your greatest weapon?
God said, “No greatest weapon formed against you shall ever prosper.”
Whatever weapons are against you, they will not succeed because God is your greatest weapon.
Here’s the second qualification: God says a good leader must not take many wives.
I was wondering about this, and for some reason,
I was asking: “Moses, did you even have to write this? Isn’t that common sense? I mean one wife is more than enough. I mean, more than one wife is a recipe for disaster.”
But Moses was specific.
I’ll tell you the context. Because back in the day, women represented political alliance. Remember the stories that you would watch or you would read.
How kings would make an arranged marriage with other kingdoms. Because they wanted to expand their territory. So, they would look for a beautiful princess somewhere to be wife for their son. And they would talk with one another
so that they could expand their kingdom.
So, God was simply saying: “I don’t want you to put your trust in all these women. I don’t want you to put your trust in your political alliances. Instead, put your trust on Me because if I am for you, who can be against you?”
Third: Silver and Gold.
And here’s the third: God says for you to be a great leader, you must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. Because sometimes, your focus becomes about what you need–no longer about what your people need.
Sometimes, when you get drowned in too much material and worldly stuff, what happens is that you’re only enriching yourself– when you’re supposed to enriching the life of other people.
That’s why God says: “I don’t want you to put your trust in weapons, in wives or women, and I don’t want you to have too much wealth.”
Take note: God is not saying you cannot have. You can have weapons to protect yourself. You can have one wife. You can have wealth. But God is simply saying this:
That anything in excess oftentimes becomes reckless.
There’s one person in the Bible who follows after this who failed in all three:
The son of David, Solomon.
Solomon has 40,000 stalls of horses, 700 wives and princesses, and 300 concubines.
But you know, Solomon was a man of God, somebody who knew Deuteronomy 17 and yet he failed.
That speaks a lot for all of us.
Sometimes, you realize that your heart deceives you at times. True wisdom is not in your mind. It’s in your heart.
Never underestimate the power of your heart to deceive you.
That’s the lesson today: Never have too much of something– because then you’ll start making it your God and God will be replaced in your life.
So, instead of having weapons, women or wives, and wealth, what you need to have is the Word! You need to have the Word of the Lord in your heart.
It says here: “You must copy for yourself this body of instruction on a scroll and then you must always keep this copy with you and read it daily as long as you live.”
When it comes to the Word of the Lord, you don’t spectate. You participate.
Because the greater your responsibilities in life, the greater your reliance is to the Word of God—to the truth.
How many of you are blessed that we have priests?
Notice that all Jewish priests were all Levites and what happened is that actually, they did not inherit any land.
Remember that they were distributing the land to each of the tribes of Judah. But the Levi priests had nothing. Remember that the Levitical priests –that are the whole tribe of Levi—would receive no allotment of land from among the other tribes of Israel. Instead, the priests and Levites would eat from the
special gifts given to the Lord– for that is their share.
Really? That’s it? They would have no land of their own among the Israelites? Why? Because the Lord Himself is their special possession— just as He promised them.
In an agrarian nation like Israel, land did not mean a square-meter property in posh Valle Verde. It doesn’t mean like a two-bedroom apartment in high-end Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
Land to the Israelites during that time meant food. It meant survival. The more land you had, the more food you had. But because the priests did not have land, they had no source of food. So, how were they going to survive?
God was simply teaching them a lesson: That if everybody is going to survive, including the Levitical priest, you have to be in this whole thing together. You have to support each other. Your neighbor, if you’re part of the tribe, you need to give what’s part of your land to them– to share what you have.
You know a beautiful thing that Fr. Bob McConaghy told me many years ago?
I remember that during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID) Pandemic, we were all isolated. We couldn’t be together. And so, we all felt like we still need
to continue The Feast– because we believe that the sheep needs a shepherd.
But you know, Fr. Bob said this: “Yes, the sheep need a shepherd, but aren’t we forgetting that the shepherd also needs the sheep?” Leaders depend also on their followers.
They need their followers.
That’s why you know, as a Feast builder, I’ll tell you this: I pray for a lot of people. They message me, they come over. But you know what my blessing is in life? That from time to time, people would be the one to actually ask what I’m praying for. People would approach me and say Brother, “What do you like to pray for?”
That’s why leaders need followers.
That’s why, as good followers of our priests, we support them. You know we give them our prayers– but we support them financially as well because mthey’re relying on us.
I will raise up a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell the people everything I command him.”
I believe that there is a certain purpose that prophets were placed as the last one. It’s not an accident. They hold a very special, unique job among all
And I’ll tell you this: With the three other leaders– the judges, the kings, the priests– when they all stray away from the Lord, guess who straightens them out and directs them back to the Lord?
The prophets. That’s the main job of the prophets: to point the way back to the Lord. That’s what Moses did.
Moses was the first prophet and then we have Joshua, and Samuel, and Nathan, and Isaiah, and the prophet Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and Amos, Habakkuk, Micah, Malachi, and then eventually Elijah.
When people would stray from the Lord, the Prophets would point their finger again and say, “This is the way to the Lord. Worship the Lord your God.”
That’s why if you notice, in the book of Deuteronomy, Moses would often say, “Obey as the Lord commanded.”
It is a reminder for the Israelites to follow the Lord once again. But here’s my question: How come we don’t have modern-day prophets anymore?
It’s because Jesus is supposed to be the Greatest Prophet we follow. He’s The Prophet!
Everything that Jesus does, we follow. Everything that He says, we obey. He’s the Greatest Prophet!