Leadership Crisis and an Old Chunk of Coal

by: Larry Davies | Nov 13, 2011

It’s been a discouraging week in the news: Everything seemed to focus on leadership shortcomings.

  • Herman Cain facing allegations of sexual harassment.
  • Governor Perry has a memory problem during a debate and is skewered on late night talk shows.
  • Joe Paterno is fired over possible mishandling of child abuse charges filed against a former defensive coach.
  • Silvio Berlusconi resigns as Italian Premier partly over economics partly over embarrassing disclosures of sexual misconduct.

It seems that every week, I’m involved in a leadership crisis within one of our local churches. But this week the crisis seemed worse than usual.

I’ll be the first to say, that occasionally we all go through difficult periods and we are occasionally exposed to crisis of leadership, in politics, business and even our churches.

Today, even the Bible didn’t seem to offer much help… at first. In my daily devotional reading, I came across this passage from Ezekiel. “The ships of Tarshish were your ocean caravans. Your island warehouse was filled to the brim. But look! Your oarsmen have taken you into stormy seas! A mighty eastern gale has wrecked you in the heart of the sea! Everything is lost — your riches and wares, your sailors and pilots, your ship builders, merchants and warriors. On the day of your ruin, everyone on board sinks into the depths of the sea.” (27:25-27)

Ezekiel beautifully describes how Israel used to be: The ships of Tarshish were ocean caravans and our warehouses were filled to the brim. Do you remember those days when everything seemed to go so right?

But look! Your oarsmen – your leaders have taken you into stormy seas. Our leadership has failed us and a mighty storm has wrecked everything. Everything is lost.

Maybe we should give up and quit. Our national leaders seem to be failing us, our churches are struggling. Why do we keep trying? Wouldn’t it be easier to quit?

But if you read the next chapter of Ezekiel, chapter 28 you find something to help us: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: The people of Israel will again live in their own land, the land I gave my servant Jacob. For I will gather them from the distant lands where I have scattered them. I will reveal to the nations of the world my holiness among my people.” (28:25)

We now know that the people of Israel would once again live in their land and the Lord would provide not only the land but the leadership necessary to thrive in a difficult world.

This week, however, I also witnessed several miracles and in the midst of the crisis I almost missed their significance. One miracle involved a physical healing and another was witnessing two churches agreeing to help each other and enter into a relationship with each other. Both are amazing miracles of faith as people in the midst of crisis found a God who loved them and promised to provide for them.

One person I know and love was healed.

One church through the leadership of their pastor reached out to help another church in danger of closing.

Looking back on the week again with fresh eyes, I discovered that I was indeed facing several crisis but I was also being given answers in the midst of them that would bring healing and growth. So rather than feel depressed, I should feel encouraged.

So it is especially interesting that as I continued my devotional reading, I found these passages from Hebrews chapter 11.

  • It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. (17)
  • It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau. (20)
  • It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. (22)
  • It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt with his people. (27)
  • It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea. (29)

At times, we need the faith of Abraham in the midst of our sacrifices.

At times we are blessed like Isaac to be able to offer blessings for our children.

At times, like Joseph we are offered glimpses into the future.

At times, like Moses we are privileged to witness God’s hand at work.

At times, we are privileged to witness a mighty miracle of God.

My wife, Mell was watching a special about Johnny Cash, the famous singer and called me in to join her. For a time, Johnny traveled with Rev. Billy Graham and his crusade. One of the songs he sang frequently during the crusade was called “Chunk of Coal.” Here are the lyrics:

I’m just an old chunk of coal

But I’m gonna be a diamond some day

I’m gonna glow and grow

‘Til I’m so blue pure perfect

I’m gonna put a smile on everybody’s face

I’m gonna kneel and pray everyday

Lest I should become vain along the way

I’m just an old chunk of coal, now Lord

But I’m gonna be a diamond some day

 

I’m gonna learn the best way to walk

I’m gonna search and find a better way to talk

I’m gonna spit and polish my old rough-edged self

Til I get rid of every single flaw

I’m gonna be the World’s best friend

I’m gonna go around shaking everybody’s hand

Hey, I’m gonna be the cotton-pickin’ Rage of the Age

I’m gonna be a diamond some day

 

This week, I felt like that old chunk of coal but deep down, I know the Lord was working on me. And in the midst of working on me, a little diamond will show itself eventually.

Hey, I’m gonna be the cotton-pickin’ Rage of the Age

I’m gonna be a diamond some day.

That is what I will be praying today for you.

Amen.


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