“Humility plus Will” makes a Strong Leader

S (Scripture): 1 Samuel 8:4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and approached Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons don’t follow your ways. So now appoint over us a king to lead us, just like all the other nations have.”

6 But this request displeased Samuel, for they said, “Give us a king to lead us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 The Lord said to Samuel, “Do everything the people request of you. For it is not you that they have rejected, but it is me that they have rejected as their king. 8 Just as they have done from the day that I brought them up from Egypt until this very day, they have rejected me and have served other gods. This is what they are also doing to you. 9 So now do as they say. But seriously warn them and make them aware of the policies of the king who will rule over them.”

19 But the people refused to heed Samuel’s warning. Instead they said, “No! There will be a king over us! 20 We will be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles.”

O (Observation):  God appointed Samuel as a judge over Israel.  God called Samuel to lead God’s people. And for a time, the people of Israel followed this custom.  But they felt like they wanted more control over the process, so they want to select a king.  

Essentially, the people begin to think that they can choose better than God can choose.   

In those days, the judge was seen as both a political and spiritual leader.   In the days following, once kings were selected, the political power went to the king, whereas the spiritual power was shown through the prophets.  The judge used to serve the role of king and prophet, but the people demanded a king…”like all the other nations.”

A (Application):  Who knows best?  Sometimes that’s hard to answer.  Do we rely on scholars?  Pastors?  The elderly? The young folks with new ideas?  The “experts”?

Perhaps the key to all of this is the misguided notion that the person most confident in the solution (or vision) is the one who should make the decision.   Unfortunately, that was not the wise decision for the people of Israel who wanted a king!

Just because someone is confident doesn’t always make them right.  In fact, a dose of humility can go a long way.  

In his book, “Good to Great,” Jim Collins points out that the most effective leaders are not just of one personality type or of one leadership style.  Instead, Collins’ research team found this:  great companies are led by people with “Humility + a Strong Will.”  How eye-opening!

A leader that remains humble, but with a clear vision, is the one who tends to see positive results.   Samuel never sought out leadership, he was called.  And he remained humble before the Lord.   We will (after Samuel) see king after king succeed or fail based on their willingness to remain humble before the Lord or not.   

And in today’s world, I remain confident that how we lead our congregations should be modeled in this way: humility plus will; remaining humble before God and the people, along with a strong discernment process for the future.  

How do you lead?   What do you take into account when leading?  Where have you seen leaders of the church do well?  Where have you seen church leaders fail?   

P (Prayer):  Lord, keep us humble, yet hungry. Amen.  


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