The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis.-Brian Tracy
Right now, with the world dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming clear that there are different types of leaders. Emergencies and disasters have a way of showcasing the strength or weaknesses of a leader.
These moments reveal the character of the leaders. However, nature is formed long before a crisis occurs. You may be wondering what has leadership got to do with me and my life? Well, the direction the leaders take, as we can now see, could either be life-saving or could lead to death. Leaders make hard decisions that could have a long-lasting impact. It is why we need wise leaders in these high powered positions.
However, all of us are leaders in different ways. It is true we may not yet be in places of top posts or not have a vast profile or a considerable following. But what we do now in preparation will pave the way for us to be great leaders.
Have you ever wondered about how different leads behave when it comes to fulfilling their roles? I am not talking about style; some leaders are quiet, while others are more charismatic. I am thinking about more profound character strengths or flaws that have a significant impact on the lives of followers and society.
For a while, I have been interested in how the first four kings of Israel, as told in the Old Testament, turned out to be so different in their approach and results. Below are some of my observations as it relates to us who are leaders or are on the journey to becoming leaders.
This is part one of a four-part series that will dwell on the first king.
Saul The People’s Choice
The moment Samuel laid eyes on Saul, God said, “He’s the one, the man I told you about. This is the one who will keep my people in check.”~1 Samuel 9:17 (MSG)
The first king was Saul, and he was picked out and chosen by God using the criteria of what the people of Israel said they wanted. He was appointed not because of anything he had done or any skill he possessed. Likewise, some leaders will find themselves in positions without having to work for it.
Saul had the basic requirements that the people wanted in a King. At first, everything went smoothly, as he got used to being king. The people loved him and came to respect him.
So what could possibly go wrong?
A lot apparently, it wasn’t long before the king started to make mistakes until he committed the most significant blunder that saw another person anointed as king. Part of his failure was that he quickly forgot where he came from originally. The power and wealth soon became so powerful that he barely paid attention to Samuel, his mentor, and prophet who anointed him, king, in the first place.
The school of obedience
As Believers, God often takes us through the school of obedience. Yet many struggle through this class. Sometimes it is easier to be obedient when you are still young, or when you are coming up the ladder as a leader. However, many of us like Saul find it hard to obey when we get into positions of power and authority. We fail to realize that there are blessings that are attached to being obedient to God’s word.
Saul got into the habit of not fully obeying God, as he tried to take short cuts. Yet, in the end, it still amounted to disobedience. The problem is that by being disobedient, he was setting a bad example for the nation. It is no wonder that God had enough and decided that Saul was not going to be the man after all. Saul had failed to be kept in check, so how could he possibly keep the people in check?
There are so many sad parts to this story. Think about it for a second, here was a man who was destined for greatness. He was the first king, yet he lost it all, simply because he failed to obey God’s commands.
The love of the people’s praise
Another thing that derailed Saul was that he fell in love with the approval of the crowd. How many times have you done something that goes against your principles just to be in with the masses? Leaders are not exempt from this temptation. There is something intoxicating about the praise you get from people. If one is not careful it can go to one’s head, and soon enough they begin to think lofty thoughts and imagine scenarios where the people fall at their feet in adoration.
However, people are very fickle, the same people that sing your praise today, are the same people who will shout and cry out the loudest when you make a mistake. Leaders who make their decisions based solely on what the people demand and want often end up making horrible mistakes. Leadership usually means making tough decisions that might not be palatable and pleasing at first. But a great leaders looks further down the road and sees the future benefits. Saul failed to pay attention to the long term consequences. His focus was on what he could see and experience right now.
The truth is however is that some other person is going to come along that is better than you, and the crowds are going to shift their attention. Saul was not prepared for this reality of sharing the stage with anyone, and instead of mentoring David, he continuously looked for ways to bring him down.
Lack of Patience
So Saul took charge: “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” He went ahead and sacrificed the burnt offering.~1 Samuel 13: 9( MSG)
Another of King Saul’s weakness, was his inability to wait for help and answers. He was too quick to act. There are significant benefits to waiting and being patient instead of rushing into circumstances without getting all the facts and information.
Over and over again we see King Saul making rash decisions so as not to lose face in front of his people. He confessed to Samuel in 1 Samuel 13:11-12, that he made the decision to go ahead of Samuel, because he was afraid that he was losing the heart of his army.
Saul had a lot of insecurities even though he was king. These insecurities would lead him unto a dangerous path. The final straw was when he failed to completely obey God’s command to completely destroy the enemy and everything they owned. Again Saul wanted to look good in front of his men, so he allowed to keep animals and the treasures they found.
Do you think all God wants are sacrifices-empty rituals just for show? He wants you to listen to him!~1 Samuel 15:22(MSG)
The truth is that although Saul was given the excellent opportunity of being the first King of Israel. He squandered it, partly because he wasn’t fully prepared for the role. However, that is no excuse, He could have learnt on the job. There was a mentor, Samuel willing to help him. Yet he let his insecurities get the better off him, time and time again. He also forgot to tap into God’s strength and never developed a strong personal relationship with God, who empowered him to be king in the first place. So he kept on making blunders till the very end of his life.
Now it’s easy to judge Saul, but have you thought about yourself? How are you doing in the place you are right now? Are you preparing for your future roles? Are you letting your insecurities stop you from doing the right things? These are questions to ponder upon.
Until next time,
Be Safe and Stay Safe.