There are some things that should never happen; a drunken transit bus driver, a neurosurgeon who acquired his degree online, a passenger jet pilot who learned to fly a plane on YouTube, and leaders who lack vision. Leaders should never be blind just as an accountant should not be performing brain surgery. The most basic requirement of leadership is vision. Being a leader implies that you have a vision. Good and bad leaders have vision; what differs is the competence and responsibility with which the vision is handled. To lack vision is to be disqualified entirely from being labeled a leader. The duty of leadership and the concept of vision are inseparable therefore leaders cannot be blind. It is too costly and there is real danger in the paradox that is blind leadership.
What makes a leader is the vision they possess. A person has a vision and decides to follow the vision. Along the line, other people join in because a God given vision will always require human resources. Vision attracts people. Followers line up behind a person because they believe he is in turn following a vision. This makes the custodian of the vision a leader due to the influence he now exerts over his followers; however leaders must be reminded that the followers exist to aid a vision. In the absence of a vision, the people perish and there is chaos. Leadership has little to do with age, net worth, title, or gender. Leadership is about influence.
An illustration: There is utter darkness and there are 200 people in a maze. A leader spontaneously emerges if one person has a flashlight. The entire group will fall in line behind the person with the flashlight irrespective of age, race, and gender. He has control and influence over the entire group because he has vision. He can see where he is going. If the flashlight was in the possession of a 5 year old kid, he becomes the leader by default. What matters is the fact that he has the ability to see beyond everybody else. Also, the leader only remains relevant as far as the flashlight is functioning. If the batteries get depleted and he loses his light, he ceases to be a leader.
“Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.” – Matthew 15:14 (NKJV)
Jesus, the speaker in the text, is making reference to the Pharisees and Scribes having just lectured them on the worthlessness of their esteemed traditions; He called them ‘blind leaders’. The Pharisees were a well respected sect among the ruling class at the time and were considered by the masses to be teachers. The scribes were teachers and interpreters of the Law who were greatly respected by the people for their knowledge of the law. However, Jesus called them blind leaders who would bring destruction to their followers. They were evidently blind because they were focused on tradition which by nature is based on historic practices. Hindsight is not required for leadership because it is possessed by all and sundry. I will explain the three types of vision a leader must possess in a different post.
They were considered leaders but were blind to the biggest event of their generation, the presence of the Messiah. They failed to recognize the significance of Jesus though it stared them in the face. They could see physically but were mentally and spiritually blind. How ironic it turns out that the physically blind Bartimaeus was better sighted than the religious leaders of the day. He recognized Jesus for who He was; the Son of David. True leaders have incredible perception and discernment of significant events, often before they happen. This is an expression of a form of vision.
“And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; 4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.” – 1 Samuel 3:1-2, 4 (KJV)
God demonstrates His attitude to blind leaders in 1 Samuel 3. This was a dark point in Israel’s history where the Priesthood had been tarnished. Eli, the High Priest had lost his vision and control of his household. His eyes had started to grow dim and there was no vision from God. God instantly ceases to recognize Eli as the leader henceforth and starts to relate with Samuel. He would rather use a young Samuel who had some vision than deal with an old priest who was now blind. Samuel received a revelation from God in 1 Samuel 3:11-14 and by the end of the chapter he had become the leader of Israel. There was no coronation ceremony or announcement but on the grounds of his connectivity, the Bible says he became established as a leader and the word of Samuel came to all Israel. We know all too well that the children of Israel were not a fun group to lead, yet they had no choice but to fall in line behind Samuel.
Once you lose vision, you have lost the scepter of leadership. You might still carry the title but the responsibility now lies with another… Selah.
Blind leadership is dangerous because it leads to mass casualties. The entire lot suffers for blind leadership. The destiny of followers is tied to the leaders they have. The leaders’ actions or inaction will in due course determine the outcome of their lives. In Bible history, whenever the leaders of Israel sinned against God, the people suffered for their sins. Wicked kings of Israel caused the people much pain because when the righteous rule, the people rejoice but when the wicked is in authority, they groan. What you become or fail to become will be a function of the leaders you follow. Solomon led the people with such dexterity that there was abundance in the land; silver and gold became as common as stones in Jerusalem under his leadership.
A leader who can only see the past will imminently crash into a ditch as Jesus rightly said. Assess your leaders for vision. If your leaders seem to lack vision, I strongly suggest you pray for them and if it persists, it might be in your best interest to redefine your relationship. Followers can be blind but leaders cannot afford to be without sight. Shalom!