I just finished doing a little Google search on this word, leadership. The word came into use around the mid-19th century and appears to have had its peak around the 1970’s and then began to decline again until at least around 2008 (That’s as far as my Google search would take me.) This information is pulled from the use of the word in books, specifically book titles I believe. Leadership is the combination of the words leader and ship. Ship is a native English suffix that denotes a nouns condition, character, skill, office, etc.
What makes someone a leader? It’s really quite simply. Stop and look around you. Do you have anyone that you lead, guide, or inspire? Are you a coach? A teacher? A parent? A pastor? An office manager? A supervisor? An upper class-men in your school? An older sibling? An aunt or uncle? Etc. You quite possibly are someone that never considered yourself to be in a position of leadership, but now that you have looked around you… you have just realized that yes, you indeed are one who leads, guides, and/or inspires others.
Now that you have looked around and realized who you are leading and when you are leading them, the next questions are:
- What kind of leader do you want to be for them?
- How are you leading them?
- Why are you leading them?
- Where are you leading them?
The Word of God is filled with examples of leadership. The Lord leaves nothing out. We see the good, the bad, and the ugly of leaders recorded in the Scriptures. As I have just finished a study in 1 Samuel and am currently working through a leadership study with my family in our home, I have discovered that the leader I most aspire to be like is Samuel.
We are given a look into the leadership of this man of God in the first twenty-five chapters of 1 Samuel. I encourage you sit down and read through these chapters and make a list of all that you learn about the condition, character, skill, and office of Samuel. You will indeed be inspired and encouraged by this man’s example. For the purpose of this post we are going to look at one particular chapter to answer our four questions, 1 Samuel 12.
In this chapter Samuel is giving the people the king they asked for and in this he is, in a sense, stepping down as the leader of the people. In the first five verses he asks the people to answer, “How did I lead?”.
And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day. 3 Here I am; bear witness against me before the Lord and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.”
1 Samuel 12:2-4
In the next five verses (1 Samuel 12:6-11) Samuel reminds the people why he was leading them…
When Jacob went into Egypt and your fathers cried out to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place. 9 But they forgot the Lord their God, so He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. 10 They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth; but now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve You.’ 11 Then the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel, and delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around, so that you lived in security.
1 Samuel 12:8-11
Then in 1 Samuel 12-18 he reminds the people where he was leading them.
13 Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. 15 If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.
1 Samuel 12:13-15
Finally in the last verses of this chapter (1 Samuel 12:19-25) we see what kind of leader Samuel desired to remain to be whether it be in an official position of leadership or not…
23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way.
1 Samuel 12:23
Some use their position of leadership as an opportunity to take advantage of others, as an opportunity to lord power over others, as an opportunity to push their own agenda, as an opportunity to do nothing while forcing others to do everything, and as an opportunity for their own personal gain. This is not how Samuel led. The Lord and the people could bear witness to this truth.
Samuel led with integrity. Samuel led in order to lead the people to the Lord. He wasn’t leading so that the people would follow him. No, his leadership was for the sole purpose of leading the people to follow the Lord. Even when those he led rejected him, he remained steadfast in his devotion to be a man of integrity. He would not allow the actions of others to change his character or life’s purpose.
As we walked through our study as a family last night my husband shared a piece of advice that a friend gave him once, “It’s hard to be mad at someone you are praying for...” Our daughter Shelby chimed in and said, “I have never forgotten you telling me that! I couldn’t remember who told you that, but I remembered the advice, and have never forgotten it!” My husband went on to say, “It’s hard to pray for someone your mad at, but it’s also hard to be mad at someone you are praying for… it works both ways.” So the bottom line is, will you choose to pray? Will you choose to take the situation to the Lord or not?
This is the kind of leader that I want to be… one that leads with integrity and one that leads other to follow the Lord… not me. One that takes all things to the Lord in prayer before I step out to lead so that I can make sure that I, myself, am indeed following the Lord and not leaning on my own understanding. When we read the first twenty-five chapters of the book of 1 Samuel we see that Samuel prayed about everything and then he waited for an answer from the Lord before he moved forward in action. His first desire was to be faithful and obedient to the Lord his God. May that be our first desire as well.
…the Lord declares, …for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me will be lightly esteemed.
1 Samuel 2:30