I like obscurity. It’s a safe place, at least for me. Tucked away on my little plot of Earth in my little small town that barely rates a pin-point on a global map, that’s what I’m talking about. We had an event one time that brought in some coastal people from back east to our area, and their sentiment was along the lines of, “Where ARE we??” I am told that people from New York City think of our nation as two coasts, and the in-between is relatively insignificant. (You know, things like cows and corn and oil, nothing like Fashion Week or Hollywood.)
And I don’t like pedestals, being put up where expectations create all kinds of pressure to perform, exceed, compete. If anyone should ever try (for some reason) to put me on one, Lord, puh-LEZE make the ground around it soft, because here I come.
So I appreciate this obscure little no-body named Shecaniah living in the time of the returning Israeli exiles to their Jerusalem homeland. The good-vibe momentum is terrific, until the priest-leader named Ezra finds out the immigrants are (once again) flagrantly disobeying God’s command. This kind of puts Ezra into a tailspin as he lets out his discouragement to God in ways that send no uncertain message (like pulling out his own beard, wearing sackcloth, falling on the ground…) As if on cue, this is where our “obscure” hero makes his one and only, but extremely important, appearance:
“Then Shecaniah…said to Ezra, ‘We have been unfaithful to our God… But in spite of this there is hope for Israel. Get up, for it is your duty to tell us how to proceed in setting things straight. We are behind you, so be strong and take action.’”
Even true leaders have a bad hair day once in awhile and sometimes they need a Shecaniah to shake them out of their grief, clean the dirt off their face, and get them moving in the right direction again. Interestingly, this guy didn’t take the opportunity to wrest power away from Ezra when the priest was in a vulnerable place (although, humble repentance before God is the most powerful place in the Universe, but that’s a different blogpost, I suppose.) Instead, he recognized in Ezra the God-given gift of leadership and the responsibility that went with it, and tapped into that for the benefit of all:
- He was bold. He didn’t let Ezra’s position intimidate him (pedestals tend to do that);
- He recognized reality and owned the guilt;
- He must have read his Bible and known something about God, because if there is breath, there is hope;
- He put his leader in remembrance of his special calling and duty;
- He stood behind whatever action was necessary in his leader’s heart to put things right.
For good leaders to be effective, they must have “good” followers, which is a bit of a lost art in our society, because people don’t typically like to be considered unknown or obscure. But in God’s scheme of things, they are sometimes the very catalyst to greatest for everyone…
Ezra 10:2,4 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.