When I read the book of Isaiah I am always excited by new discoveries. It was written over 2700 years ago to the nation of Israel to convict them of their sin and to reveal the promise of the Servant Saviour of the world. Isaiah is still relevant today as a reminder of our inability to save ourselves and to fill us with hope that the Saviour has indeed come and that He is coming again.
In my recent reading I found a brief account of two men, Eliakim the son of Hilkiah and Shebna, who were both officials in the court of Hezekiah, king of Judah (Isa 22). God is displeased with the self-glorification of Shebna and He rather commends Eliakim. From 2 Kings we learn that Shebna was demoted to secretary and Eliakim became the royal steward in his place. What struck me in my reading was a description of Eliakim as a peg.
ISa 22:23 And I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honour to his father's house.
What an unusual simile that is--‘like a peg’! As I meditated on that picture it reminded me of how many people, and especially women, have felt loaded down by the pressures of lockdown. Overnight a working mother became teacher, cleaner, gardener, confidant, playmate, the one with all the answers, at the same time holding her own work in the virtual workplace. She became a peg, on which all the coats were placed. She was expected to carry the burdens with a smile and to remain steadfast and secure.
As leaders, men and women, we are called to be pegs. We are called to carry the burdens of others, but there is a way to do it that will cause God to be glorified and ourselves not to be weighed down unnecessarily. Shebna used his position as peg to draw glory to himself and God removed him.
Picture with me a beautiful vintage hat stand. Picture a leader as one of the pegs on this stand.
These marvelous pieces of furniture usually stand in a hallway and they are the first thing you see when you walk into a home. The pegs are securely screwed into the wooden frame, they are easily accessible, and rarely without hats, coats, umbrellas, and all sorts of objects which find a temporary place to rest. In a busy home the objects on the pegs are constantly changing. In a loved home, the pegs are shiny, with a fresh coat of lacquer, the screws are tight and, on entering the home, one has no hesitation to place a loved object on the peg.
This is the type of peg God calls us to be as His leaders.
God places leaders to be visible, easily recognised, and stable. We are accessible to all--the weak and the strong, the broken and the restored, the old and young, poor and rich, all people from every walk of life. We carry ourselves with excellence and honour and are people of integrity. We can be trusted. We do not judge the person who brings us their burden, however big or small. We are grateful to share a load for a season with them. When people leave, they have been equipped to face the storms and winds of life. They are better for having spent time with us.
We are not stand-alone. Most importantly, we are secured to the frame. The frame came first and we are placed on the frame. We know that our strength is in the one who placed us and on whose shoulders we sit. God is truly our Father. We are dependent on Him and on His Word. We are dependent on the Holy Spirit, drawing on His insight and perspective, trusting Him to teach us His wisdom and compassion and how to love people the way He loves us. He is our stability in all times; in Him there is abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is our treasure (Isa 33:6).
We are kept and keep ourselves in good condition, spiritually, emotionally and physically. Spiritual health involves being rooted in the Word, and worshipping our Lord on our own and with others; we know the true value of prayer and we are committed to regular intimacy with the Father. Emotional health includes caring for ourselves, taking rest, laughing lots, having fun with family and friends, doing activities that refresh our souls. And physically we strive to eat wisely, exercise frequently and keep our brains stimulated.
We regularly fail as pegs. When you read further on in Isaiah 22 you will discover that Eliakim failed. It seems tragic that Eliakim did not end well and that his family brought disaster upon him. It gives me courage. I will fail but Jesus equips me to stand again. Jesus is the perfect Saviour, the ultimate leader and, because He has done it, I am able to persevere, to try and try again. When you feel overburdened, turn to the One who carried the weight of the world on His shoulders. Turn to the One who gave up everything that you and I might have life, and life eternal.