And when Abram was ninety-nine years old, Jehovah appeared to Abram and said to him, I am the Almighty God! Walk before Me and be perfect; and I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly abundantly. And Abram fell on his face, and God spoke with him, saying: As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you abundantly exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. GENESIS 17:1-6 VW Edition
This passage – one of several which chronicles YHWH’s covenant relationship with Abraham – has a great deal to teach us on being God’s answer to mankind as leaders.
Notice here that God tells Abraham to walk before Him and be perfect. To be a leader means that you must lead before God. This means being conscious of His Presence and His calling.
There is a high standard for leaders. It is perfection. Leaders must demonstrate perfection and maturity.
Verse 2 tells us that leadership is based on covenant. This means we have a legal standing and right to lead. Abraham was the friend of God. This did not mean that Abraham and God were buddies. Friend here is a covenant term.
Jesus said in John 15:15 that He calls us not servants but friends. This means we have a covenant relationship with Him, conferring on us rights as well as responsibilities. As a leader you have the right to accept God’s help to meet the needs of the people you minister to. God is covenanted to help you.
Verse 2 continues with a promise by YHWH to multiply Abraham exceedingly abundantly. That means a lot!
Being a leader means you function in multiplication. Multiplying is in your DNA.
Verse 3 speaks of Abraham falling on his face. The place of prayer is the place where a leader hears from God. Being God’s answer to your generation means you must be someone who spends serious time in God’s Presence.
In verse 4, YHWH reiterates the covenant aspect of His relationship with Abraham. He then addresses Abraham’s identity. Up until this point, Abram has been Abram, meaning “high father.” Now Abram is to be known as “father of many nations.”
There is a change of identity here. YHWH has to shift how Abram sees himself. Abram has to go from seeing himself as a potential father to being a father of many, many people.
When God takes you nearer to the fulfilment of your destiny, He reveals more about your identity. It wasn’t enough for Abraham to see himself as a father, he had to see himself as a father of multitudes. As a leader, you must see yourself as a leader of nations and multitudes.
This required a name change from Abram to Abraham. Sometimes there has to be such a dramatic shift in our identity that God changes our name. He has to shake us out of our sense of who we are in order to propel us towards who we are called to be.
This all goes to show what we have looked at before – that leadership is progressive, going from one stage to another as we proceed towards our goal, which is the fulfilment of our destiny.
Verse 6 shows us that leadership is in our DNA. We are to be fruitful and reproduce ourselves.
Multiplication is in our DNA. We are to multiply.
A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the LORD will hasten it in his time. ISAIAH 60:22
Leaders must reproduce who they are. That is why it is so important to know your DNA.
Abraham was called the father of many nations. Kings were to come out of him. This meant leadership was in his DNA as God’s covenant partner.
Galatians chapter 3 tells us that we are blessed with faithful Abraham and that we are heirs of Abraham. This means that leadership is in our DNA. Kings are to come out of us. Tribes and nations are our children.
Interestingly, kings are to come out of us. This speaks of reproduction. Kings sire kings, not commoners.
Leaders must produce leaders, not followers. You must reproduce after your kind. This is the law of procreation. Elephants don’t produce tigers when they procreate.
It is perverse for godly leaders to only produce followers. This is why cults spring up. Leaders who see themselves as overlords and not fathers do great damage. Biblical leadership is fathering. This is why God identified Abraham as the FATHER of many nations.
And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORF may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” GENESIS 18:17-19 NKJV
Fathers must raise fathers, not just sons. This is why Abraham is our example. God covenanted with Abraham because being a father and teaching his children was a big deal to him. Abraham longed for a son and heir. This was a vital part of his identity and, as we have seen, identity is destiny.
Abraham is the patriarch of God’s children. Fathering is thus in our DNA as believers and this shows that leadership in God is about being fathers, not being bosses. Abraham’s destiny was to be the Father of Many Nations. That destiny is shared by us!
We are children of God – the greatest Leader of all – and we are the seed of Abraham, God’s covenant partner in the earth. We have got leadership covered!
Jesus came to show us the Father. He came to manifest to us the express image of God. We are to be conformed to His image. This necessitates being leaders and leading the nations.