Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Bend Your Neck

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people.      Deuteronomy 32:9   (NIV 1984)

Isn’t it interesting that the Lord uses a phrase – stiff-necked – to describe a people who are unwilling to obey Him or submit to His authority over them.  Why not something like ‘cold-hearted’ or ‘hard-headed’ or just ‘strong-willed?’

A ‘stiff-necked’ person is one who holds their head rigidly erect.  It’s a sign of inward pride and self-confidence gone to an extreme.  The stiff-necked person is one who is inwardly (sometimes outwardly also) rebellious to the rule and reign of God in them. They would rather trust themselves than take the risk of entrusting themselves to the Lord.

The person who bends their neck demonstrates a sign of submission and a willingness to trust the Lord’s leadership in their lives.  They acknowledge their limits and willingly invite the Lord into their leadership knowing that they are really not that important in the grand scheme of things.

Signs of a ‘stiff-necked’ person:

  1.  A shallow, hurried, perfunctory prayer life.
  2.  An unwillingness to delegate responsibility to others.
  3.  A leader who is focused more on control than outcomes.
  4.  An unteachable attitude to others, especially those who they are leading.
  5.  A selective teachability, picking and choosing from those who they see as worthy of their attention.
  6.  In decision-making – especially important decisions – made without taking counsel from the Lord or others.
  7.  Self-centered talk with a lack of active listening and few questions for others.
  8.  Taking credit for the success of others.

The stiff-necked leader may be one who has some ‘success’ – at least short-term.  They seem to get things done.  But, this is a short-lived result.  For the Lord says that He actively opposes the proud (see 1 Peter 5:5-6).  He will not share His glory with another.

So… how’s that stiffening feeling in your neck these days?

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2 thoughts on “Bend Your Neck

  1. Hey! Great post!

    Stiff-necked leaders, also tend to show many narcissistic tendencies, that often come at the psychological health of their team. As you say, the unwilingness to delegate tasks of responsibility to others makes it difficult for trust to develop.

    This issue of trust is further observable when it comes to decision-making (as you say). When subordinates are not given the feeling that they are listened to, given a purpose or not valued in any way by their leader, how should they feel that they are being trusted or cared for by the leader?

    This little loop is observalbe in much of the aspects you have mentioned.

    In fact, the whole notion of stiff-necked leader is short-lived, because eventually he will no longer be a leader, because he won’t have anyone who follows him.

    thanks for sharing! Great stuff sir! 🙂

    • Thanks for the feedback and words of affirmation.
      The deceptive part of a stiff-necked leader is that in the short run they can get things done and appear ‘successful.’ But, long-term, the Lord will not honor them or share His glory with them. Wisdom will be known by its children!

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