The old prophet Samuel’s sons were wicked, and the elders of Israel were not about to have them lead the nation. So, they visited Samuel at his home in Ramah and demanded he appoint a king to be their judge and leader, just like all the surrounding nations (1 Samuel 8:4,5).
My dad loves to teach the men he is discipling the five steps in training a man (applicable to men and women): 1. Tell them why they should follow Christ—Matthew 4:19. 2. Show them how to follow Christ—John 14:21. 3. Get them started in following Christ—Luke 9:23. 4. Keep them going as it relates to following Christ—John 15:4. 5. See that they pass it on . . . reproduce what they have learned—Mark 6:7,12. Let’s focus on the fifth step establishing that training effectively occurred.
Across the planet, leadership is a relevant and popular topic. It is heavily researched and widely championed from the time we are children to the end of our lives. But when was the last time you heard a school teacher, a CEO, a pastor, or a manager tout the benefits of being a follower and place that emphasis on equal footing with promoting leaders? “Followership is a process whereby an individual or individuals accept the influence of others to accomplish a common goal.” It is not a term we hear mentioned often yet it is a very important concept.
Meditation Jeremiah 22:18,19--Therefore, this is what theLordsays concerning Jehoiakimson of Josiah, king of Judah:They will not mourn for him, saying, “Woe, my brother!” or “Woe, my sister!” They will not mourn for him, saying, “Woe, lord! Woe, his majesty!” He will be buried like a donkey, dragged off and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem
Jed, Samantha, and Rob work for a nonprofit organization that helps military veterans. They mostly love what they do, but they struggle immensely with the poor manner in which their organization is run. Their leader flips from one project to the next, often pulling them to work on a new requirement with no advance notice. They feel jerked around by the tyranny of what is most urgent—a reoccurring pattern that is not well thought through. Decisions are sometimes made for them in areas where they are subject matter experts without seeking their input or advice. They feel unheard and underappreciated. They are emotionally and physically exhausted because there are no work boundaries or protected times for them to rest and relax.
We have all experienced them—leaders, who exhibit selfishness in the midst of a crisis. One of the reasons why I believe the Bible is the greatest book on leadership is the plethora of examples of good and bad leaders. So let’s look at a man who shows us what not to do.
Meditation Daniel 5:26-28--This is the interpretation of the message: MENE means that God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end. TEKEL means that you have been weighed in the balance and found deficient.PERES means that your kingdom has been divided and given to the Medes and Persians.
When was the last time you sat beside a fire, alone, and able to think and meditate? The previous home owners left me a gift of numerous piles of dead branches all over the property. I guess they didn’t have time to burn anything but I still would label their actions a gift because they gave me plenty of reason to clear away brush piles and, in the process, burn. There is something mesmerizing (and therapeutic) about sitting next to a fire and watching it reduce large masses to smoldering ashes. No branch escapes. All that feel the hot fury of flame are engulfed and reduced to residue.
Dr. Gary Bredfeldt, author of Great Leader, Great Teacher, has some poignant observations to share about the character of leaders. He notes that values are valuable as principles, qualities or standards. Values represent leader beliefs that come from heartfelt commitment—that indicate emotional investment. They can be morally neutral and subjective and, as society increasingly becomes relativistic, values (which are not moral absolutes) gain greater favor. Values can be personalized and tied to race, gender or class.
We know from Genesis 5 that Enoch was the seventh generation from Adam, and he is the supposed writer of The BookofEnoch considered an apocryphal book and part of the Pseudepigrapha. Enoch 100:8 states: “Woe to you, ye obstinate of heart, Who watch in order to devise wickedness; Therefore shall fear come upon you And there shall be none to help you.”
Trina is a disrupter. She never lasts long in organizations because she has a bad habit of stirring up trouble. When she finds weaknesses in people she exploits them. She enjoys pitting one person against another. She is a gossiping genius. At first her gregarious nature and warm appearance win her instant friends. Slowly, as they learn she cannot be trusted with information, they pull away.
Meditation Ezra 8:21-23--I proclaimed a fast by the Ahava River, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask Him for a safe journey for us, our children, and all our possessions. I did this because I was ashamed to ask the king for infantry and cavalry to protect us from enemies during the journey, since we had told him, “The hand of our God is gracious to all who seek Him, but His great anger is against all who abandon Him.” So we fasted and pleaded with our God about this, and He granted our request.
When the leaders of the military set as their highest priority rooting out right-wing extremists and ensuring transgender Americans can serve in the force we can be sure that our readiness is woefully compromised. Who feeds the Commander-in-Chief his information? If it is people from the Palm Center the United States is in big trouble. This organization focuses its attention on America’s LBGT population and they say focusing on transgender issues is an urgent priority for military readiness. Supposedly “recruitment, reputation, retention, unit cohesion, morale, medical care, and good order and discipline” are compromised by banning transgender Americans from serving. But they do not back up their statements with evidence outside their small population group. As someone who served in the military for 36 years I can tell you from my experience that their findings are absurd.
Started in 1994, the No Regrets Men’s Conference is an annual event whose purpose is to challenge men in their relationship with God at home, at work and in their ministry. Hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the organizers seek to create an environment over about a four-hour period that ministers in a great variety of host sites around the world. Spiritual growth is set in motion when men and boys come together to worship and to hear challenging messages. What is also encouraging is the effort by the leaders to provide ongoing Bible Studies and messages designed to stimulate men spiritually so they don’t just experience a “one and done” but have impetus to keep maturing.
It might seem strange to start the year with a devotional on 1 & 2 Kings but it actually is quite appropriate. In this new year a president-elect is soon to be inaugurated. Somewhere around 1010 B.C., David, arguably the nation of Israel’s greatest king, just before he died passed great wisdom to his son Solomon. His words if heeded by any newly elected leader or monarch in modern times would make a significant difference.
Meditation Ezra 1:1-2--Inthe first year of Cyrus king of Persia, the word of the Lord spoken through Jeremiah was fulfilled.TheLordput it into the mindof King Cyrus to issue a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom and to put it in writing: This is what King Cyrus of Persia says: “TheLord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and has appointed me to build Him a house at Jerusalem in Judah.”
If you want to read great books on leadership, read 1st and 2nd Samuel. Early tradition suggests that 1 and 2 Samuel were originally one book in scripture so I will do my best to examine the combined 55 chapters and share key leadership lessons. No author is named for these books but scholars largely credit the prophets Samuel, Nathan and Gad. Based on 1 Sa. 27:6, the writing may not have been completed until about 930 B.C.
Israel experienced the death of their famous leader Joshua still facing the enormous task of conquering Canaan. The book of Judges follows up where the book of Joshua left off, with the challenge of expelling wicked nations in territory God assigned for His people in a period that spans three centuries.
Meditation Joshua 14:10-12—"As you see, theLordhas kept me alive these 45 years as He promised,since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel was journeying in the wilderness. Here I am today, 85 years old. I am still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me out. My strength for battle and for daily tasks is now as it was then.Now give me this hill country the Lord promised me on that day, because you heard then that the Anakim are there, as well as large fortified cities.Perhaps theLordwill be with me and I will drive them out as the Lord promised.”