John T. Willis

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Leadership Flaw

"Leadership" understood from a godly or Christian perspective MAY be a good thing. Personally, I avoid this concept and encourage all of my students to think in a very different way from a biblical, godly, Christian perspective. There is ONE leader whom we gladly embrace: God, our Creator and Sustainer, through Jesus Christ our Lord, and by means of the Holy Spirit. So, YES INDEED, I am personally VERY MUCH in favor of LEADERSHIP with regard to God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But when it comes to human beings, this is an entirely different matter. Biblically, godly, from a Christian perspective, the proper role of human beings is SERVICE, not the actual execution of human leadership. Here are some clear examples.

I. Saul. Saul was born and raised in a very humble home in or near Gibeah in the tribal territory of Benjamin. When Yahweh through the prophet Samuel selected Saul to work in a new function among the people of Israel, Yahweh designated Saul as "nagid," "prince" [1 Samuel 9:16; 10:1],not "melek," "king," because the only real "king" was Yahweh [see for example 1 Samuel 8:7; Psalm 44:4; and often in the Bible]. At first, Saul was appropriately very humble. Saul's attitude was:
"I am only a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel, and my family is the humblest of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin. Why then have you spoken to me in this way?" (1 Samuel 9:21). When Samuel designated Saul to be "prince" over Israel, Saul was hiding among the baggage because of his humility
(1 Samuel 10:20-24). When opponents of Saul to be "prince" in Israel, Saul held his peace (1 Samuel 10:27), and refused to kill his opponents when he could have done so (1 Samuel 11:12-13).
But when Saul actually became "king" over Israel, he took things into his own hands. He offered a sacrifice at Gilgal before Samuel arrived in specific disobedience to Yahweh's command (1 Samuel 10:8; 13:8-13); he declared a rash vow forbidden his soldiers to eat until darkness (1 Samuel 14); he kept alive the best of the sheep and cattle and king of the Amalekites in strict disobedience to Yahweh's command (1 Samuel 15). History shows that this is precisely what happens to most human beings when they "feel the position of leadership" here on earth. There are few if any exceptions.

II. David. David was born and raised in a remote humble home at Bethlehem. He was raised to be a shepherd. When Yahweh sent the prophet Samuel to anoint David "nagid," "prince," in Israel, David was very humble (1 Samuel 16-17) and continued to be so for a certain period of time. But when David became "king" over all Israel (2 Samuel 5:1-3), it was not long until he took things into his own hands. He took another man's wife, had this man murdered on the battlefield at Rabbah, connived, manipulated, and opposed God's commands (2 Samuel 11-12; 24). History again shows that when human beings "feel the position of leadership" here on earth, they usually yield to the temptation of ruthlessly dominate other people rather than being submissive to God.

III. Solomon. When Yahweh called Solomon to be David's successor on the throne in Jerusalem, Solomon was very humble. He declared that he was only a youth and could never lead Yahweh's people. 1 Kings 3. But very soon, Solomon began to take things into his own hands. He put numerous Israelites to hard labor essentially as slaves of Solomon (1 Kings 5:13-18). He married many foreign women and worshipped foreign gods (1 Kings 11). History again shows that when human beings "feel the position of leadership" here on earth, they usually yield to the temptation of ruthlessly dominate other people rather than being submissive to God.

IV. In my own lifetime, I have seen this occur repeatedly. A good, humble person somehow receives an alleged "prestigious" position in government or medical arenas or legal posts or educational institutions or religious assignments in church locales, and soon "feels the position of leadership" and dominates over other people rather than "serving" God humbly and faithfully. Such people abandon churches, friends, committed workers to accomplish their own self-centered goals. "Leadership" is the fundamental flaw of human life.

The Bible calls God's people to be "servants" (Matthew 20:20-28; Mark 10:42-45), to be "disciples" or "followers" (Matthew 28:19; Acts 6:7; and often), to be "shepherds" to care for and support and encourage others (Acts 20:18; 1 Peter
5:1-6). God-Jesus Christ-the Holy Spirit is [are] the true leader[s]. The rest are servants and followers and disciples. God commands through Moses in Deuteronomy 17:20that the "king" of his people Israel "must not exalt himself above other members of the community." The Western world has mis-directed this biblical teaching.

The September 2009 carried a very important page of quotes on "character" or "integrity." This is what we all need for our lives, our churches, our universities, our cities, and our nations. Here are some of these quotes:

Paul Newman: "If you don't have enemies, you don't have character."

Joan Didion: "Character--the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life--is the sources from which self-respect springs."

Samuel Richardson: "Calamity is the test of integrity."

Abigail Van Buren: "The best index to a person's character is (a) how he treats people who can't do him any good and (b) how he treats people who can't fight back."

Katharine Hepburn: "To keep character intact, you cannot stoop to filthy acts. It makes it easier to stoop the next time."

Warren Buffett: "Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. But if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you."

Robert G. Ingersoll: "Most people can bear adversity. But if you wish to know what a man really is, give him power."

Ethel Barrymore: "You grow up the day you have your first real laugh--at yourself.

Dale Carnegie: "Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving."

Like Saul, David, and Solomon, most alleged "leaders" have failed miserably in the presence of God. The real problem is "pride, self-centeredness, ingratitude." Strive to be a slave, a servant, a follower, a disciple. Then, God our great and only leader will sustain you and prosper you abundantly.

Share YOUR thoughts and experiences with others. Give me YOUR thoughts. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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