1 Kings 12:6 Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the older men who had attended his father Solomon while he was still alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” 7 They answered him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” 8 But he disregarded the advice that the older men gave him, and consulted with the young men who had grown up with him and now attended him. 9 He said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” 10 The young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus you should say to this people who spoke to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you must lighten it for us’; thus you should say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins. 11 Now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”
18 When King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was taskmaster over the forced labor, all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam then hurriedly mounted his chariot to flee to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
King Rehoboam was counseled to be a servant leader. He was to serve the Israelites and seek their best interest in all that was to be said and done. They needed love and encouragement and the wise elders knew that this would foster a healthy relationship between the king and his people.
The young leaders gave him the opposite advice. They believed that leadership had to be wielded through the power of oppression and not of service.
In the end he listened to his friends and the people rebelled. The heavy hand of oppression may work for a period of time but it will never bring about a lasting peace.
Servant leadership reflects the incarnation life of Jesus Christ. He came as a servant — serving you and me and preparing a pathway for us to come to the Father. He becomes an example for us today.
This past week I have been traveling through countries which have experienced different periods of leadership. Some has been servant leadership and some has been oppressive leadership. The oppressive leadership comes to an end by way of the rebellion of the people. Eventually they can no longer stand the heavy hand which is powerfully controlling all that they do. They want to be set free and they want a leader who will care about their needs.
Any person who finds themselves in a position of leadership must focus on the needs of the people whom they serve. Leadership is not about accumulating personal power, but about giving up that power to the one who needs it today. It is empowering others to do their work and providing them with the authority and resources that are necessary.
I have recently had the privilege of spending time with a number of Christian servant leaders. They don’t necessarily make a name for themselves because they are more interested in building up others. Their work and businesses are thriving and they are loved by those who work for them. This reflection of Christ is a breath of fresh air in our world today.
Lord, please lead me to lead in the way you would desire. Amen.