Archive | July 23, 2014

Samson: The Leader Who Failed to Lead Himself

Samson was one of the judges of Israel; he was born to deliver his people, Israel, from the hands of the Philistines; however, Samson failed to complete his task and died leaving his people under the oppression of the Philistines.
He was a man who started well but had a tragic end mainly because he tried to lead others without first leading himself. Samson crashed because of what some call personal leadership mismanagement. He failed to discipline himself, he failed to listen to others and he failed to learn from his past failures. He was a man with several character flaws but he paid no attention to them and eventually they were his undoing.
The first flaw was that he lacked self-discipline as far as women and sex was concerned. He picked a bride from the camp of the enemy which in itself was a wrong move and all because he couldn’t discipline his desires. He saw the woman and wanted her although she was wrong for him. When the marriage ended he saw a prostitute and couldn’t hold back, he slept with her. Finally, he saw Delilah (who would eventually destroy him and was completely wrong for him) and fell in love with her. He did not have the discipline to say no to women and sex and both combined to pull him down.
The second flaw was that he listened to no one. When he was going to get married his parents advised against his choice but Samson did not listen to them, as a matter he insisted on having his way after his parents had spoken. It has been said that there are two types of people who are failures in life, those who do not listen to anybody and those who listen to everybody. Samson belonged to the first category. A leader that will succeed must have people he listens to.
The third flaw was that Samson failed to learn from his mistakes. During his wedding feast he told the guests a riddle that no one had the answer to. The Philistines took his bride aside and asked her to entice Samson to tell her the riddle and then reveal it to them. At first, Samson would not tell her but when she pressed on him he told her and she told her people. Samson ought to have learnt a lesson at that point but his actions in the house of Delilah several chapters later revealed that he was not a man who learnt from his mistakes. After his marriage ended, Samson soon fell in love with a woman named Delilah and the lords of the Philistines came to her and offered her eleven hundred pieces of silver to entice him and discover the secret of his great strength. If Samson had learnt his lesson when he fell prey to the first plot to entice him he would have saved himself the heartache that came as a result of falling prey to the second plot to entice him. Delilah set out to seduce Samson and finally he fell into her hands just as he had fallen into the hands of the woman of Timnah, except this time the stakes were higher; he lost everything including his life.
If a leader will be effective in leading others, he must of necessity first be able to lead himself because therein lies the real challenge of leadership.
Eturuvie Erebor
Taking-the-Lead Seminars.

Rehoboam: The Leader Who Rejected Wise Counsel.

Rehoboam was the son of King Solomon and the grandson of David; he was anointed king after the death of his father Solomon and while he had the resources required to become a great king, he was a man who did not recognise wise counsel when he heard it and so he lost half the kingdom to another.
On the day of Rehoboam’s coronation, the people of Israel assembled together, led by Jeroboam, who would eventually rule over the other half of the kingdom. They made a plea to Rehoboam to lighten the burden his father put on them in return for their loyalty. Rehoboam asked them to return after three days to give him time to ponder on the matter. He consulted with the old men who had been part of his father’s inner circle and they gave him sound counsel which contained the true picture of what a leader should be. They said to him, “If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day and wilt serve them, and answer them and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.”
Rehoboam forsook the counsel of the old men because he thought it was foolish and because he had no clue how to lead and assumed that because he was king he could do whatever he liked with the people. He failed to realise that as a leader he was a servant of the people and his actions showed that he did not truly possess the heart of a leader. He approached the young men who grew up with him and they gave him counsel that eventually led to his downfall. They said to him, “thus shalt thou say unto them, my little finger shall be thicker than my father’s loins. And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.”
Rehoboam took the advice of his friends and the result was that the people decided they had had enough and would not put up with his tyranny; they rebelled against his leadership. At first, he did not think they were serious, so he sent out Adoram who was in charge of collecting the tribute money and the Bible records that all Israel stoned him with stones and he died. At this point Rehoboam realised the matter was a lot more serious than he had thought and he fled.
Rehoboam was a leader who did not know the truth about leadership; that a leader is a servant of the people. He listened to the counsel of those who also knew nothing about leadership. He was not wise enough to know who to take counsel from. The men who were part of Solomon’s inner circle were in a better position to counsel him than his friends because they had a better understanding of the people and their needs, having worked closely with Solomon during his reign. These men had observed Solomon and knew from experience what would work and what wouldn’t work with the people. They also knew what it took to be the leader the people would willingly follow. However, Rehoboam did not listen to them but chose to listen to his friends who were really not in a position to advise him; as they had never occupied leadership positions themselves, or worked closely with anyone who had.
The lesson here is this; every leader needs people around him that he can trust to give him counsel; but in seeking counsel, a leader must carefully evaluate the competence of the counsellor. It will amount to foolishness to seek counsel from a lawyer when you have health related concerns. This is exactly what Rehoboam did when he turned to his friends for counsel.
Eturuvie Erebor
Taking-the-Lead Seminars.

Nehemiah: The Captive Who Became a Leader

Nehemiah was a captive who rose to the position of a governor because he had a heart to serve God and His people. He was a slave in the land of captivity when news reached him that the walls of Jerusalem had been broken down and the gates burnt with fire. His desire to rebuild the walls caused him to return to Jerusalem. His story contains several leadership lessons.
Lesson number one; a leader must take the initiative. Initiative means the power to act or take charge before others do. A leader that fails to take the initiative is not a leader. Long before Nehemiah heard that the walls had been broken down and the gates burned with fire, others had heard; as matter of fact there were people in Jerusalem when the walls were broken down but they did nothing about it. Nehemiah heard and immediately took the initiative to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. This is one quality that separates a leader from followers.
Lesson number two; a leader must accept responsibility. Many in leadership positions fail to realise that a leader is called to take responsibility. Nehemiah accepted responsibility of building the broken down walls of Jerusalem. He also accepted spiritual responsibility of going before God in prayers and asking for forgiveness for his nation.
Lesson number three; a leader must have a clear vision. Vision tells the leader where he should go and a man who has no vision is a man who does not know where he is going. Nehemiah had a vision, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem which had been broken down.
Lesson number four; a leader must be able to communicate the vision to the people. The Bible talks about writing the vision and making it clear so that the one that reads it may run with it. No one can run with a vision that is not clear and so it is important that a leader is able to communicate the vision clearly to the people. However, before a leader communicates the vision, he must ensure it is clear to him. Nehemiah communicated the vision to the people but it is interesting to note that when he first arrived in Jerusalem he did not immediately do this; rather he spent time viewing the damaged walls. I believe he was trying to evaluate the situation first hand so as to have clarity of the vision before communicating it to the people. This is very important and a leader must never communicate to the people a vision that is not yet clear to him.
Lesson number five; a leader must get the people to buy in to the vision. It is not enough for the leader to communicate the vision; he must get the people to buy in to it. Nehemiah did not stop at communicating the vision he got the people to buy in. He carefully explained to the people the present situation then charged them to arise and build and went on to tell them why they must build. In getting people to buy in to a vision, a leader must carefully point out to the people what they stand to gain, or why they should buy in to the vision.
Lesson number six; a leader must be ready to face the opposition. As soon as the people arose to build the walls, opposition also arose. Sanballat, Tobiah and Geshem laughed the people to scorn and Nehemiah spoke up and answered them. Opposition will always arise against the fulfilment of a vision and when it does the leader must be ready to face it; this is his responsibility.
Lesson number seven; a leader must refuse distraction. The purpose of opposition is to distract a person or a people from the pursuit of a vision. Opposition usually targets the leader because he bears the vision that drives the work and the easiest way to stop the vision is to stop the leader through distraction. Once, Sanballat and company called for a meeting with Nehemiah but he responded thus, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down; why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” Nehemiah refused to allow the opposition distract him and stop the work. A good leader must stay focused until the vision is fulfilled.
Eturuvie Erebor
Taking-the-Lead Seminars.

Lessons in Family Leadership from Lot

Lot was Abraham’s nephew and apparently Abraham was very fond of him because when he left his father’s house, he took Lot with him. Both men travelled together until they became so wealthy the land in which they sojourned could no longer contain them and Lot relocated to Sodom.
The men of Sodom were wicked and so God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah; however, angels were sent to bring Lot and his family safely out of the land. Lot was unable to leave the land with his entire family; he had married daughters who could not make the trip because their husbands, his sons-in-laws, disbelieved and mocked him when he spoke of the impending doom. He left the land with his wife and two unmarried daughters but he may as well have left alone because from the actions of his wife and daughters it was clear Lot really had no one following him; the wife and daughters although with him physically, never really left Sodom. His wife looked back in the direction of Sodom disobeying clear orders that had been given them and she became a pillar of salt. Then the daughters who obviously possessed the spirit of Sodom took turns having sexual intercourse with their father.
The question is what went wrong with this family? The answer is Lot failed his family; he failed to rise up to his God-given position of leader in his family. He failed to take charge. He did not communicate a family vision to his wife and because she had nothing to look forward to she thought what was behind was better and turned back. He did not have a plan for his family after the death of his wife and other daughters and so his surviving daughters took the reins of leadership and created an incestuous plan. If a man will not lead his family, someone else will.
A man is a spiritual leader and it is his responsibility to lead his family to God. Lot failed in this task. His wife turned back from following him; his daughters were married to men who did not know God, his unmarried daughters had obviously picked up the evil character of the people in Sodom. These all point to the fact that Lot was an ineffective leader.
Like Lot, many men around the world have failed in their role as leaders of their family; some have no family vision to begin with and those who do, either fail to communicate it or make it clear to the followers (the wife and children) thus, there is no buy-in and like Lot’s family there is no congruence and everyone goes off doing their own thing.
As father’s day is celebrated today, I pray that men everywhere will honestly evaluate themselves and admit where they have made mistakes and put things right. Your family is counting on you and so is the entire world. Remember that the family is the smallest unit of society and if fathers get it right by leading their families effectively, societal vices as we know them will be curbed.
Happy Fathers Day.
Eturuvie Erebor.

Jephthah: The Leader Who Suffered Rejection

Jephthah was a leader who suffered rejection because of circumstances surrounding his birth. He was one of the judges of Israel and the Bible described him thus, “Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, but he was the son of a harlot.” He had great potential to lead because he was a mighty man of valour but that potential was overlooked because of his background as the son of a harlot.
Jephthah was an illegitimate child born to his father by a harlot and although he was his father’s first son, when the sons born by his father’s wife grew up, they drove him away because as an illegitimate child he was not entitled to an inheritance. As a first son Jephthah should have been a leader in his father’s house by reason of his birth position but he lost that leadership position because he was born by a harlot. He ran away from his half-brothers and went to live in the land of Tob. It wasn’t long before worthless men gathered themselves to him and he became the leader of a small army that went out raiding with him.
Then the time came when the children of Israel were in distress because the people of Ammon made war with them and the elders of Gilead went to get Jephthah from the land of Tob so he would be their commander and lead them into battle against the people of Ammon. Although Jephthah wasted no time reminding them of their earlier rejection of him he eventually agreed to go back with them and fight against the people of Ammon, on the condition that they would make him their head. The elders agreed so Jephthah went with them and the Bible records, “and the people made him head and commander over them.”
Nothing had changed about Jephthah, he was still the son of a harlot, his birth circumstances had not improved, and the issue that disqualified him from being a leader even in his father’s house was still present in his life. Why then did the people make him their head and commander? The reason is simple; when the chips are down, people want a leader who knows the way. The children of Israel were faced with the people of Ammon and they had no clue how to handle the situation; the very reason they were distressed to begin with. They had no knowledge of war and war strategies and as such they were no match for the enemy; at that point they required a leader who had sufficient knowledge about war strategies and could go out against the enemy and win the battle. Remember that the primary reason the elders approached Jephthah was because they wanted him to lead them into battle. It was obvious they had to go to battle and even more obvious that since they knew nothing about war matters they would need a leader who knew. Jephthah was that leader; he was a mighty man of valour, he was skilled in the art of battle and knowledgeable in war matters. Jephthah’s knowledge qualified him to lead them and bring them out of their distress; because of this it became irrelevant that his mother was a harlot and that he was an illegitimate child of his father.
A leader’s ability to lead is really what matters to the people; when the chips are down, the people will overlook the leader’s background if he possesses the qualities required to lead them forward.
Eturuvie Erebor
Taking-the-Lead Seminars.

Good Leaders Don’t Defraud The People.

Leadership is about service; service to the people and not service to self. When a leader serves self instead of the people, he has missed the mark. Anytime a leader defrauds the people he leads it is because he has ceased to serve them and begun to serve self. A person who truly understands that leadership is a call to serve the people and not himself will not defraud them.
Moses was one of the greatest leaders in the Bible; he understood what it meant to lead and did not defraud the children of Israel. When Korah and company rebelled against his authority, Moses said to God “Do not regard their offering! I have not taken a single donkey from them, nor have I done harm to any of them.” Truly he was a man serving the people and not serving self.
Samuel was the last judge in the land of Israel; like Moses he also understood that leadership is a call to serve the people and not oneself. Samuel did not defraud the people, as a matter of fact, during Saul’s coronation, Samuel said to the people of Israel, “Now, here is the king walking before you, but I am old and gray, and behold my sons are with you. And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day. 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.” They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” That is a powerful testimony of integrity.
Nehemiah was a slave in a foreign land but when he learned that the walls of Jerusalem had been burnt down, he returned to rebuild them; because he was successful in leading the people to rebuild the walls he was made their governor. As governor there were certain privileges that Nehemiah was entitled to but he refused these privileges because he did not want to put an additional burden on the people. These are the words of Nehemiah, “Moreover, from the time that I was appointed to be their governor, neither I nor my brothers ate the governor’s provisions; but the former governors who were before me, laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so because of the fear of God. Indeed, I also continued the work on this wall and we did not buy any land.” Nehemiah was truly a servant leader, he could have taken the governor’s provision, he could have bought land but those things were not his priority, serving the people and ultimately God was priority.
Apostle Paul, unarguably the greatest apostle, in speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus said, “Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.” He took nothing from them; he worked with his hands to sustain himself and the people who preached the gospel with him.
Moses, Samuel, Nehemiah and Paul did not defraud the people they led. A leader is called to serve the people and a good leader knows this; therefore, he does not seek to serve himself rather he seeks to serve the people and enrich their lives.
When a leader defrauds the people he loses their respect and so is unable to correct their errors. After David stepped out of line in the issue of Bathsheba and served self by defrauding Uriah the Hittite of his wife and ultimately his life, he lost the respect of the people and so when his son Amnon raped his own daughter Tamar, he was silent. Although the Bible records that he was angry yet there is no record that Amnon was disciplined by David for his evil deed. His passivity concerning the issue drove Absalom to murder Amnon. Had David responded accordingly by disciplining Amnon perhaps Absalom’s anger would have been appeased and the murder of Amnon avoided. However, David could not discipline Amnon because of his own failure as a leader.
When leaders stop serving the people and begin to serve self, there are always grave consequences.
Eturuvie Erebor
Taking-the-Lead Seminars.

Eli: The Leader Who Was Asleep

Eli was a priest and one of the judges of the nation of Israel, as a matter of fact he was the last but one judge that Israel had. After his death, Samuel became judge and was the last judge as the nation moved from being led by judges to being led by kings.
Eli was without any doubt a very weak leader, the Bible described him as an old man who was overweight and the three times he is mentioned, he is in a position of ease, either lying down, a position which connotes inactivity or sitting down, a position which connotes rest. Three scenes that depict this are as follows; Scene one, Hannah was in the temple praying, the Bible records, concerning Eli, “Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord.” Scene two, the night the Lord called the young Samuel, the Bible records, “And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place.” Scene three, a man of Benjamin returned with evil tidings that the ark of God had been captured, the Bible records, “Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God.” So in all three scenes, we see this man, who was the spiritual leader of the nation, either in a state of rest or in a state of inactivity. It is interesting to note that Eli as spiritual leader of the nation could sit down and lie down when the nation he led was in chaos as was his household. We know this for a fact because the Bible records concerning the nation of Israel, “The word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.” Then concerning the household of Eli, the Bible has this to say, “Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.”
While Eli was not a bad man, he was not a firm man either and this is clearly seen in his failure to call his sons to order even after he heard of their evil doings while they occupied the office of the priest. Eli failed miserably in leading his family and so he failed miserably in leading the nation and ultimately lost the priesthood. According to the Bible, Eli’s sons were not only corrupt; they did not know the Lord. The fact that they did not know the Lord suggests that while Eli in his office as priest and religious leader taught the nation about God he failed to carry out the same duty in his home with his children. The little boy Samuel, who became priest after Eli, was raised by Eli and Samuel grew before the Lord and knew the Lord. Samuel was raised by Eli, what he knew of the Lord, Eli taught him. But, while Eli raised Samuel to know the Lord, he did not do the same with his sons. He was a leader who tried to lead outside his home without first leading inside his home and failed woefully both ways.
Eli’s weakness is clearly seen in the way and manner in which he handled his sons’ actions. While he pointed out to them that he had heard of their misbehaviours, there was no sign of remorse on their part for the Bible says, “Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father.” This is a sign they had no regard for his authority as leader of their family and nation. Also there is no record of Eli taking any drastic action to stop their actions, a sure sign of weakness on his part.
Twice, after that Eli was warned about God’s displeasure with his son’s actions but he did not speak to his sons again neither did he take any action to punish them for their deeds. Also he failed to show any remorse for his failure to lead his family. In the first instance, an unnamed priest warned Eli that he honoured his sons more than he honoured the Lord and made himself fat with the best of the sacrifices of God’s people. At that point Eli should have risen to his responsibilities and addressed the wayward actions of his sons but he did not. Then God gave him a second warning through the little boy Samuel and all Eli could say was, “it is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.” No remorse, no action taken to correct his sons or the wrong they had done, or intercede in prayers, he did absolutely nothing. His response reveals the weak, laid back, at-ease disposition of a man who at the time was supposed to be the spiritual leader of the nation.
Little wonder that in his days the ark of God went into battle and was captured by the enemies. Little wonder that both his sons died in the field of battle. Little wonder that the glory of God departed from the nation, not to return for many years, and thousands of men lost their lives needlessly in the battle against the Philistines. All this happened because the nation was led by a leader who was “fast asleep” and oblivious of the happenings around him.
Eturuvie Erebor
Taking-the-Lead Seminars.