Jeremiah 15:1-4 (ESV)

Then the Lord said to me, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go! [2] And when they ask you, ‘Where shall we go?’ you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord:

” ‘Those who are for pestilence, to pestilence,

and those who are for the sword, to the sword;

those who are for famine, to famine,

and those who are for captivity, to captivity.’

[3] I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, declares the Lord: the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth to devour and destroy. [4] And I will make them a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem.

Are you a leader? Do you have responsibility to lead people, to direct people? Are you over people at work? Are you a parent? Are you a husband? Almost all people are leaders in some segment of their lives. The one who is at the bottom of the pile at work, who has everyone over him and he is over nobody, comes home to two children whom God has given to him to lead and direct and teach. The youngest child in a household of six children may be given responsibilities at school or in the church that necessitate her being over someone else, even if it is only a matter of ensuring that the garbage gets taken out properly. Most of us lead in some capacity whether the responsibilities are great or not.

Everyone wants to be the boss. The boss is considered to be the one in control. He is the one who gets to give the orders. She is the one who gets to decide who does what without the irritation of being told by others what to do. Nice thing to be in charge. It means more respect, perhaps more money, more power.

We also know that it means more responsibility. Being a leader involves more planning, more work. It means burning the midnight oil, getting by on less sleep quite often and having to forgo breaks and holiday time for the sake of accomplishing the tasks set before us. It is not people at the bottom of ladders who suffer from burnout and overwork. The higher you go in an organization the more stress you find assaulting you.

But there is another aspect of leadership that needs to be taken into consideration. We know about the privileges and we are cognizant of the responsibilities. But how often do we talk about its accountability? Quite often we think being the boss means not having to be accountable to others. Well, that just isn’t possible.

In the text of Scripture before us today we are introduced to the King of Judah during the time of Jeremiah’s work, Manasseh. A more wicked King the country would never have. You can read of him in II Kings 21 and II Chronicles 33. II Kings 21:9 tells us that the people did not listen to the Lord and Manasseh led them astray. The people were bent on disobeying God and Manasseh’s responsibility as King in a theocracy was to bring the people back to the worship that God had ordained for them. But what he did instead was lead them into idolatry.

Now look at verse 4 above. God will make the people of Israel a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth because of what Manasseh did. The nation is under the judgement of God because of what Manasseh did. Manasseh is the one who must give account for the state of the nation.

Everyone wants to be the boss. Everyone wants to be at the top of the pile. In the Church the only one at the top is Jesus Christ. But He has appointed leaders in the church and we had better take our responsibility seriously. We are going to give an account of how we led and what we taught. If you are a teacher or pastor or church leader of some sort, give serious thought to the following texts. Be glad that God has chosen you to be in the leadership position that you hold, but never forget that you are going to be held to account for how you handled this stewardship from God.

Matthew 18:7 – “Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!

Hebrews 13:17 – Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.

James 3:1 – Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

Are you a leader? Lead with the full knowledge that you will be held accountable to the Judge of all the earth for how you led, what you taught, and where you took those who were following you. He who called you will equip you, but you will have to answer for how you handled the equipment.