Honoring leaders *sigh*! This is one of those that I have struggled with for the longest time, sometimes loudly, often at the heart level. A couple of months back, I was involved in a discipleship class where one of the greatest lessons I carried with me was on this subject. The writer, who is now a great leader; talked about his experience growing into a leader. He explained that one of the lessons he has carried over time was a comment made by his mentor who once told him that he would never be a great leader until he learned how to be led. I think this is something that leaders in the making struggle with. We often feel that we know it all, we often think that we can easily see start to end, and so we feel that the ones leading are not doing as good a job as we could. Yet what this writer was saying is, that part of the journey and the lessons of being a great leader, is learning to be led.
David was one of the leaders who had mastered the art of being led. The book of 1 Samuel records of a time he had an opportunity to kill Saul; this leader who had taunted and haunted him. Yet David takes the highway route and says, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.”.
David must have known that he would make a greater leader than Saul, he even had the perfect reasons to kill this guy, and after all he was a leader that was undercutting him. Yet David recognized what many times I forget, that God chose Saul to be the leader. With all his issues, this was the man anointed by God to be king. God put Saul in a position of authority and it was God’s job to take care of Saul, not David’s. He refused to try and fulfill God’s promise through his own disobedience.
I often have to remind myself of this. I have leaders around me that truth be told, with an opportunity as David’s I am not sure I would walk away. Okay I am not a killer so I won’t shoot the guy. But at any opportunity, I will undercut this leader, I will talk ill of this leader, I will discredit him; okay I might as well have taken the gun and shot him.
And you know, the sad part is that too often I will be right, I will not be making stuff up, I will actually be saying things as they are. Heck, people should speak their minds right? Yet what David teaches me, with every reason to kill Saul, with every opportunity to do so, there is the value of honoring the leader of the season. I learn from David that this is an act of faith.
It is about having enough faith in God, to know that He battles for us; He does not need our help. Faith that, for this moment, if this guy is the leader, it is because God has allowed him to lead, and God has anointed him for that position. The truth of the matter is every leader is chosen by the Lord, so dishonoring them is dishonoring God. Romans 13: 1-7 Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
Leadership in my day
And yet what this struggle has also taught me is to ensure that the leadership positions that God has entrusted me with, I lead faithfully.
Leadership is a powerful tool that God uses to impact the lives of many. And so as a leader, I must never be the Saul in my space. I must never be the reason that the Davids’ of this world are on the run.
Strange enough though; we sometimes do not know that we are the Saul’s in other people’s lives. Heck, Saul probably had no idea that there was anything wrong with what he was doing. Yet he was the reason for David’s many years in the wilderness. How sad it would be in my day, to be the reason for someone else’s wilderness years.
This is the reason that convinces that all leaders must be submitted to God. As we submit to Him, He illuminate to us what kind of leaders we are, where our heart is, and transforms us to the servant leaders Christ was. He teaches us to be humble leaders who know how great a responsibility the Lord has entrusted us with.
Accountable to others…
I have learnt over time that the easiest way the Lord keeps leaders on track is by having people around us who will honestly speak into our leadership. People who will in love let us know when we are being the Saul’s of our generation, the ones who will not shy away from calling out pride or any other issues that may creep in as we lead.
And yet one of the challenges leaders have is that sometimes we have not allowed anyone to speak into us; we are the ones who know it all. Yet this is ALWAYS a recipe for trouble. I have been with leaders who surround themselves with Yes people, the kind who will almost always agree with them. I have seen many projects fail when everyone else except the leaders knew the projects were bound to fail. Why, because these leaders have no room for anyone who does not agree with them. I find this dangerous. It is those who don’t agree with you, those who can speak freely that you need closest, they become your mirror.
Leadership is in my day to day space. My prayer to the greatest Leader I know is He would make me more of the Leader He is.