One may ask; who leads the leader that leads the people? The answer is simple, it is vision; vision leads the leader.
Vision is the state of being able to see and vision is also a clear picture of what the future holds. Leaders need vision to succeed. Leaders need vision to give them a clear direction and a purpose. A leader with a vision knows where he is going; and everyone wants to follow a man or woman who knows where they are going. A leader with a vision is a person with a purpose. Every leader must have a vision because it leads him and acts as his guide showing him the direction in which he is to go. Vision is important for every leader and no one can be a leader without it. Vision helps the leader to stay focused and keeps him or her from drifting from the path.
Moses was a leader who had a vision at the age of 80 years; it was to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, the land of slavery, into the land flowing with milk and honey. That vision guided Moses for the next forty years of his life; it dictated what he could do and what he couldn’t do. It dictated where he could go and where he could not go. For instance, as soon as he received the vision, he knew he could no longer remain in his father-in-law’s house; he knew he had to relocate to Egypt. His vision guided him into making a choice concerning his day job as a shepherd; he knew it was time to put in his resignation. The vision he had guided him into making these decisions. This is what vision does for a leader.
Jesus had a vision; to die on the cross so as to save man from his sins and reconcile him back to God. This vision acted as his guide; once, in the cause of his earthly ministry, the people tried to make him a king by force but he ran away. Being made a king is not a bad thing in itself but it was not in line with his vision so he could not accept it. If he had no vision he probably would have accepted it but vision demanded he refuse it. On the night he was arrested and Simon tried to defend him with the sword Jesus made it clear that he could call for twelve legions of angels to come for his rescue. However, he did not and the reason is simple; vision was leading him. When a leader has a vision it helps him to know what to say yes to and what to say no to; it helps him to know who and what to welcome into his life and who and what to say good bye to.
A leader who has a vision is able to come up with solutions when problems arise in the pursuit of the vision because the vision guides him to find a solution to the challenges as they rise. Jacob had a vision, that all the animals that were ringstraked, spotted and speckled would be his wages and the same day his uncle Laban removed all such animals from among the herd (to frustrate his vision) this was a problem but because he was a man of vision, he had a solution. He took rods of green poplar and hazel and chestnut tree and pilled white strakes in them and placed them before the animals when they mated. The result was the animals brought forth cattle that were ringstraked, speckled and spotted.
Without vision no leader can effectively lead people. A leader must see things before the followers see them, this is why he is the leader and this is why the people are willing to follow him. When Pharaoh chased the Israelites as they left Egypt, fear came upon them but Moses charged them not to be afraid, he had a vision, and it was not one of the people being re-captured and taken back into slavery; but it was one of the people living as free citizens in a land that flowed with milk and honey.
Saul and David were the first and second kings of Israel respectively and they both had personalities that rubbed off on the people that they led. The stories of these two men, who possessed very different personalities, help to portray the truth that, the people ultimately become like their leader, and this is whether they know it or not. A look at the lives of these two men reveals they had opposite personalities. Saul was a man full of uncertainty and fear and David was a confident and fearless man. This truth was exposed on the day that David fought against Goliath. Saul was the leader of the armies of Israel and should have given his men the courage required to go against the giant but because he was fearful, the entire camp trembled in fear until David showed up and killed the giant. The interesting thing is the way David went about killing the giant; the Bible records that he ran to meet Goliath. While Saul and the entire army ran away from Goliath, David ran to meet him. This incidence clearly shows that one man was fearful and the other fearless; their dispositions ultimately affected the people they led.
One instance that shows how Saul’s fear was passed on to his men is at Gilgal, where he prepared to fight against the Philistines. The Bible records that, all the people followed him trembling. It is not surprising that they followed him trembling, he was a fearful leader and must have been trembling himself; perhaps not outwardly but interestingly even if inwardly it can be sensed and passed on to those who follow.
Another instance is when Goliath boasted before the armies of Israel; the Bible records that when Saul and all Israel heard the words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.”
Finally, prior to his last battle, in which he was killed, Saul consulted with a medium to bring Samuel up because he wanted to enquire how the battle would go. Samuel told him without mincing words that he and his sons would be killed in the battle and the Bible records that immediately, Saul fell full length on the ground and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. It is little wonder he died in the battle and it is little wonder after he died his men could not carry on fighting rather they took to their heels and fled. He was without doubt a fearful leader and gave birth to men who were equally fearful.
David on the other hand was a mighty man of valour and knew no fear; while he kept his father’s sheep, a lion came and took one of the sheep to kill it; but David ran after the lion, delivered the sheep from its mouth and killed it. The bear came and the same thing happened, therefore, when he saw Goliath intimidating God’s sheep (the armies of Israel) he was not afraid; he simply went out against the giant the same way he had gone out against the lion and bear and slayed him.
David was bold and fearless, so his men were also bold and fearless. When you read the accounts of these men it is amazing the boldness they had; once David was fighting against the Philistines and the garrison of the Philistines at that time was in Bethlehem and David thirsted and longed for a drink from the well of Bethlehem; as soon as he voiced it, three of his men broke through the camp of the Philistines, drew water from the well and brought it to him. Can you imagine going into the enemy’s camp? It takes a very high level of boldness and courage to do that, it is not a feat for the lily livered but this is not surprising; after all they were becoming like David, their leader. Then there was Abishai one of the mighty men who lifted up his spear against three hundred men and killed them; one man killed three hundred men. Indeed, it is a feat that can only be accomplished by the fearless. Then Benaiah (also one of the mighty men) killed two lion-like men of Moab, he also killed a lion. Surprised? No reason to be; David who led them had killed a lion as a young lad so his men must have realised there was really nothing to killing a lion. These are by no means the only accomplishments of David’s mighty men but they do help to buttress the fact that these men were as fearless as their leader, David.
Saul was fearful and so those who followed him became fearful; David was fearless and those he led became fearless. Like it or not, the people ultimately become like their leader.
Saul was the first king of Israel, and he is a good example of an insecure leader. To be insecure means to be uncertain or anxious about oneself and not confident. We see these traits in Saul from the onset. On the day he met with Samuel and was told he would be king he made excuses about his inability to lead because he was from the smallest tribe in Israel and his family happened to be the smallest in that tribe. Then when the day came that he would be presented to the people of Israel as their king he went into hiding so that when the people looked around for him, he was nowhere to be found and then it was revealed that he was hiding himself among the equipment. These two scenarios show a sign of a lack of confidence in Saul.
An insecure leader does not do what is right but what is popular; he leaves the good that he knows he should do and does what will make the people sing his praise even when it is wrong, because he is concerned with how people perceive him and always wants to look good before people. Saul was such a leader; he once admitted to Samuel, “I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” Saul was always concerned about how the people saw him and whether he had acceptance with them or not. This in itself is not a bad thing, but if it goes against what a leader knows to be the right thing to do, then it is wrong. When Samuel told Saul that the Lord had torn the kingdom of Israel from him and given it to a neighbour better than he, Saul’s response reveals his insecurity and need to look good before the people. He said, “I have sinned; yet honour me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel…” Being honoured before the people was for him more important than the fact that he had failed God who appointed him as a leader of His people and that he had failed in his duties as a leader to the people.
An insecure leader makes excuses to cover his wrong deeds; he fails to take responsibility for the things he allows to happen and shifts blames very easily. Saul was such a leader, when Samuel confronted him because he had failed to destroy the Amalekites completely; this is Saul’s response to Samuel, “I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” He was very quick to shift the blame to the people forgetting that as leader he was responsible for the actions of the people. He also failed to accept that his insecurities drove him to permit the people to act contrary to the instructions given to him.
Insecure leaders are very anxious people; once Saul and his army were at Gilgal waiting for Samuel to come and sacrifice the burnt offering to God. As they waited, the people out of fear began to withdraw from him and so Saul took the burnt offering and sacrificed it himself. As soon as he was done, Samuel showed up. When Saul was confronted by Samuel, rather than admit his error and ask for forgiveness he again began to make excuses. From the excuses he made, we see his lack of confidence and anxiety. He said to Samuel, “When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash, then I said the Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord. Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering.” Anxiety drove Saul to take the place of the priest and offer a burnt sacrifice to the Lord an action which he knew was wrong.
An insecure leader is a destructive person; Saul’s insecurity reached its peak the day the women sang their song saying, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands.” He was angry and displeased at the saying; he became uncertain of the future and thought, “now what more can he have but the kingdom?” So the next day, as David played the instrument for him, he hurled a spear at the young innocent lad in an attempt to kill him because he feared he would lose the throne to him.
Saul’s insecurities caused him to lose his place as leader of God’s people Israel. It also caused him to be an ineffective leader because the later part of his years as king he left national issues that he should have been addressing and chased David all over Israel seeking to kill him. Eventually, he met his death and alongside him died his children who would have reigned in his stead. His story is a good example of what can happen when a people are led by an insecure leader.