01 September 2011

Serving and Stewardship

I'm reading through 1 Kings right now. Much of the time, I'm a bit bewildered by where God has me in His Word when facing difficult times. The first truly difficult time in my life, I was reading through Jeremiah... the weeping prophet. We cried a lot together during that time, Jeremiah and I, - and I discovered some true gemstone verses to cling to, including the incredible promise of Jeremiah 29:11, for the very first time.

We are definitely walking through a difficult time right now with the closing of our mission organization and the loss of much of our EBM family. And where am I presently planted in the Word of God?  I'm reading through the book of I Kings... not overly encouraging on the whole, as I read about king after king who chose to worship the idols of this world instead of wholly following the Lord with a heart like David. I guess it could even be depressing... except that the Holy Spirit is pulling out powerful, convicting questions to ask me as I examine my life in light of the examples of the sons of David.

1 Kings 12:1-17 in my Bible is subtitled "King Rehoboam acts foolishly." Rehoboam is the son of Solomon, the chosen heir to the throne. After his father's death, he calls together his father’s counselors to ask their advice. Next, he assembles all of his buddies and asks them what they think. They think something very different from what the elders counseled...

Rehoboam rejecting the elders recommendation...

He rejects the advice of his father's sages, choosing instead to submit to the leading his peers... probably greedy, power-hungry, self-centered men who’s concern was simply “Make a name for yourself. Be greater and more terrifying than your father... and bring us along for the ride!”

Look at the two words of counsel Rehoboam received:

·        From Solomon's sages:  “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.” (NASB)

·         From his peers and pals: “But you shall speak to them [the people he ruled], ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’" (NASB)

The people of God, the powerful and blessed Hebrew nation, split in two. This division, a prophesied consequence to Solomon’s failure to pursuing God with a whole,  undivided heart, was tragic.
Only the tribes of Judah (his own family) and Benjamin followed Rehoboam, a rather remarkable example of obedience to the will of God and submitting to the authority He had placed over them, even when that authority refused to listen to reason. The other 10 tribes followed another man, Jeroboam, refusing to allow the arrogant Rehoboam the right to rule, even stoning his messenger. 

One "aside observation" I found very, very surprising in this chapter was the fact that God’s will for the southern part of the kingdom was to submit to this tyrannical rule, while His will for the northern part was to rebel. God obviously uses differing “political views” to accomplish His will.

But back to the subject of leadership... In this chapter, we are given a clear picture from Solomon’s elders of how servant leadership should look. I find myself asking this question:

How can I be a servant leader in each instance where the Lord has entrusted me
with the position, power and prestige of leadership?

One clear principle I see is the importance of really listening to the petitions of those I lead, and implementing them in part or in whole unless there is clear reason to say “No.” As a mom, how often do I say “No,” simply because it is more convenient for me, rather than having a clear and real reason. When I say “Yes,” when and as I can – the necessary “No’s” more palatable for those following me, for those over whom I have been placed in authority. That, in part, defines servant leadership.

One other key component of servant leadership I see in this chapter is submission to the wise and godly counselors God has placed around me, even when their counsel does not "tickle" my ears or does not always seem to match with my goals. It is my responsibility to weigh that counsel and recognize that God might be speaking to me through words that frustrate, hurt and do not necessarily please. As the one in charge, I do not have to submit... I make that choice. I don't always have to be the one with the "right" or "best" opinion and ideas. I don't have to "win," just because I'm the one leading. 

Isn't another definition of parenting "servant leadership?"

Leaders who serve? It is is simply good... maybe even superior, stewardship.

It is obedience to Philippians 2...

"Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

Illustration is from Story-of-the-Bible, published about 1904 for author Rev. Hurlbut. Scanned photos from the book whose copyright has expired. An expired copyright means that you are free to use these photos in whatever capacity you wish, except you may not link to them at this site.

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