Yesterday in Sunday School, we opened the Old Testament and discussed leadership.
Here is the link for the lesson: The Influence of Wicked And Righteous Leaders
In the lesson, there are 5 components to being a good spiritual leader:
1. Gives Service.
2. Trusts & Obeys the Lord.
3. Has faith in God.
4. Teaches from the scriptures.
5. Follows the prophets.
During the times covered in this lesson (1 Kings and 2 Chronicles), the kings were not the prophets.
We talked about Solomon's son, Rehoboam, who became King upon the death of Solomon. There was a prophecy given to Rehoboam that the 12 tribes of Israel would be split under his leadership. The prophecy quickly came true.
The people went to Rehoboam and asked that he lighten their yoke (burdens, taxes) after the extravagant living of Solomon forced heavy labor upon the people to pay for it. Rehoboam went to the elders who served under his father, they told him to live in such a way that would reduce the yoke upon the people. Rehoboam didn't like this answer, so he went to his young friends, his peers, who told Rehoboam to not only not lighten their load but to make it heavier and threaten the people if they spoke out again.
1 Kings 12:14 14 And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions.
Does this sound like a good leader? No. One of the true signs of a good leader is not that of a task master, but of a fellow servant, and certainly one who would never threaten to chastise the people for speaking the truth.
What happened? Jeroboam, who was the leader of the Israelites demanding change, led Israel out of Rehoboam's grip and Israel was split.
Now, granted, Jeroboam was no saint of a leader either. But his problem was he lacked integrity and the courage to show that integrity. He feared the wrath of the people more than he feared the wrath of God and encouraged idol worship within Israel. His failing was to do that which was easy over that which was right.
What happened with the 10 tribes who followed Jeroboam? They were seized by another nation, and the people taken to other parts of the world into captivity. The 10 tribes were scattered.
The lesson then skips a few generations to give the example of Jehoshaphat, Rehoboam's great-grandson. Jehoshaphat had the courage to confront the two tribes of Israel he had left to worship God rather than idols. He removed the altars and temples that had been placed there. You see, Jehoshaphat had a private devotion to God that carried into his leadership. And because of this, when warring nations went against them in battle, the Lord protected them and defeated those who came against them.
Was it easy? No. Was it the right thing to do? Yes.
This is truly a lesson that could be used in leadership today, unfortunately, there are far too many people in power (not just within governments, but within companies and even celebrity management) who would rather do what is easy over what is right.