Monday, March 30, 2009

For Leaders and Those Who Follow...

There are lessons in today's scripture passages that are so compelling I will get right to the point. These are lessons for leaders and for those who follow leaders (in other words for EVERY person).

1 Samuel chapters 21 through 24 continue the saga of Saul's pursuit of David with intent to kill him. As I mentioned yesterday, David had done nothing to deserve Saul's wrath, and yet Saul relentlessly pursued him with a determined assassination plot.

Here are the big take-aways that I want to highlight:

When David had the opportunity to kill Saul (as detailed in chapter 24) he did not take advantage of it. David was urged on by his men to kill his enemy Saul, but his response was amazing-- 6 “The Lord knows I shouldn't’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” 7 So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul.

Lesson to Those Who Follow:

This passage has been cited by well-meaning Christians as an admonition against or prohibition of ever challenging a Pastor or Leader. But are there times when it is legitimate to question a leader? Yes.

These verses do not teach that a leader or Pastor shouldn't be accountable for any teaching or conduct that is unBiblical or extra-scriptural--or that he or she is above reproach. A critical look at David's actions reveals that while he chose not to kill Saul, he did not shy away from humble confrontation of his sin. Scripture warns that there will be teachers in the last days who are not careful to rightly teach God's Word, and this verse should not be used to insulate them from accountability.

Lesson for Those Who Lead:

David knew what God had promised him (inheritance of Israel's throne) and it would have been easy for him to think it justifiable to hurry along God's promise by killing Saul when he had the chance. Instead, he resisted the temptation to take revenge because he trusted God completely and did not want to be guilty of disobedience.

It is always sinful to try to "help" God fulfill his promises by justifying wrong actions in order to receive his benefits. David's heart must have been so tender toward God because surely he was weary of the running from his evil enemy, yet he knew that God could take Saul's life without any help from him at any time He chose.

David was a follower who trusted God so much that he bowed before Saul face down, knowing that he was a target for instant death, yet he trusted that he would not die one second before God's will for his life was fulfilled. He was also an admirable leader, demonstrating that he understood that humility, obedience, patience, and submission would result in blessing, a priceless treasure for those who would genuinely desire to honor God as they lead others.

Leading and Following--we all do a little of both during our lives--and learning from David's example will serve us in each capacity.

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