Great Leaders Follow Well
I recently stumbled upon these sermon notes from 1 Samuel 9-11, and a great lesson on keeping the main thing the main thing. There is so much to learn from the lives of great leaders. Some are remembered for their greatness and others for tragedy. Some start out great and then end in tragedy, often because they have failed to keep the main thing the main thing.
The first king of Israel is usually remembered for his tragic demise and the tenacity with which he tried to hold on to the position which God was taking away. While we may debate the decision leading to his appointment to the throne, he began nevertheless as a great example of leadership. An examination of King Saul’s early rule yields three principal traits of godly leadership.
Saul’s position as King was clearly established both in his personal life and in his community life. Saul had a clear anointing of his position through Samuel (10:1) that was confirmed through signs (10:9). His sense of calling came from within but it was also developed in part through spirit led individuals. Internally he knew that God had called him to be King and he was willing to take on that mantle. But the strength of his leadership did not reside solely in his own personal sense of calling, Saul was also affirmed in his leadership by the community who proclaimed him king (10:24) and who celebrated his leadership at his coronation (11:15).
Saul’s position was not the basis of his worth. Leaders must know who they are irrespective of their titles or positions. Position must not become the basis of esteem and self-worth. In the early years of Saul’s reign we see that he considered himself little in his own eyes and he had a natural aversion to greatness. (9:21; 10:21-23)
Leaders must first be willing to be followers until they are both called and affirmed. To be able to lead with confidence, today’s leaders must have a clear calling from God and the confirmation from those whom they lead. Husbands, pastors, elders, presidents, small group leaders need to be affirmed and enabled to lead with confidence.
How do you affirm your leaders?
A leader’s passion excites the group to joyfully spend themselves in the pursuit of something bigger than themselves. Great leaders are passionate about the welfare of their people. Saul was passionate about the people of his nation. He sought out the cause of their tears (11:4-5).
Saul was also passionate about matters of justice in the nation. His passion led to a righteous intolerance and a burning anger when he heard that Jabesh had been besieged. In Saul we see the quality of a leader who loves his followers and desires the best for them. He will not settle for anything less than the best for those in his care.
Saul was passionate about the welfare of his people and he let them know it. He communicated his passion with clarity as he sliced and diced the oxen and sent them out to the people, calling them to rally together against their enemy.
Leaders must remain passionate about the vision of the church, not the particulars like money and buildings. Leaders must keep the main thing the main thing. They need to be the local champion of the vision and passionately communicate that vision to their followers.
What brings out your passion, do people around you see it?
The difference between a dreamer and a visionary is a plan. A leader is one who knows what to do about the problem. Saul initiated a plan. God’s plan was simple – liberate your countrymen. The objective was clear – destroy the enemy’s grip through battle. Saul measured his resources and laid out a plan. His plan involved deadlines (11:9), strategy (11:11), and the celebration of completion (11:15). Great leaders know the value in celebrating both the great victories as well as the small wins. Closure and celebration strengthen group morale.
Leaders can not sit back and wait for someone else to lead for them. Leaders do not sit back in the stands and criticize the play on the field. They are in the field and leading the attack. Leaders must be people of action.
Where are you going and how will you get there?
As we reflect on the life of King Saul, we see a leader who had a great start, but faltered when he allowed his personal agenda to come before God’s agenda. As leaders, we must be accountable to keep God’s thing as the main thing. Great leaders are great followers of God.
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