Leadership isn’t easy. In fact it’s a down right fight many times. Many leaders fail, but we; you and I, don’t need to be among those who fail. Many of the Bible’s leaders teach us what to add and what to subtract in terms of leadership in order to succeed. Saul’s life is one that teaches us what not to do. This is part 2 in the series Avoiding Failed Leadership and Saul here teaches us another good lesson.
It’s all about who we listen to and who we desire to please.
Saul desired the wrong people to be pleased. Saul was to wait for Samuel before he offered the burnt offering in 1 Samuel 13. Samuel was a prophet sent by God, yet Saul cared more about the people’s opinion of him. Samuel stated not to offer the burnt offering until he arrived.
Saul waited the length of time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came.
And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” (1 Samuel 13:8-12)
Saul was supposed to wait for Samuel. Saul had instructions to wait, but Saul didn’t wait. After he does what he shouldn’t have done, Samuel calls him out: “What have you done!?” Saul then shows to whom he would rather listen to.
Saul saw his followers, his army, his trusted men going back home. He realized that they weren’t please with him and what he was doing at the moment. The people didn’t want to sit around and wait for Samuel so they could worship God. The people wanted to get away from that place and they were not happy that Saul waited.
Some probably tested his kingship with words like: “Look at this king waiting around like a puppy dog for a prophet!Who rules who? Who really in charge here, Samuel or Saul?”
The attitude and the voices of the people rang louder in Saul’s ears than did the voice of God. So Saul scrambled to make the people happy, he sped up the process and made a sacrifice to God on his own…even though he was supposed to wait.
Saul was worried about the people’s feelings towards him and Saul was also worried about Samuel. When Samuel came Saul reveals his heart for trying to make the people happy and he also tries to blame it on God as an after thought. He says: “…and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the LORD.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” (1 Samuel 13:11b-12)
Saul, in an effort to appease Samuel says he was worried that if he didn’t please God with this sacrifice the Phillistines would be allowed to crush God’s people. He also says: “I made myself do it. Samuel I struggled and I really didn’t want to, you have to see that! I forced myself to disobey God because I thought I would die if I didn’t!”
Saul needed to worry more about God’s command than he did the grumbling and leaving of the people.
We as leaders need to do the same. Our hearts desire should be to please our Father, not His people. As Shepherds entrusted to steward His flock, we shouldn’t listen to the bleating of the sheep but the whisper of our Lord.
I struggle with this. I really feel compelled to listen to the people. I get frustrated at myself when I notice myself doing it. I pander, I appease, I’ve lied, I’ve wriggled out of things all in an effort to make people happy. If I don’t know an answer to something, I’ve even made stuff up in an effort to have people think highly of me.
I can’t worry about other people’s opinions. I can’t worry about what they think, I need to be close to the Father so I can hear what he desires me to do…and then I do it!
I do what He asks me to even if: people get ticked; people don’t understand; people jeer at me or even if people leave my side because the only voice that matters, the only voice I need to listen to is His voice!
It can be so easy to please the crowd. It can be so easy to “go with the flow”…but it can be very difficult to go upstream, against the current. Sometimes (more often than not) God calls us to go upstream and go after things that may make other people ticked; he often calls us to step on people’s toes (in His Name of course) to wake them up from the slumber they are in.
Sheep like to slumber and as the Shepherds, we need to wake them up!
I think some practical advise in order to avoid this failure in our lives:
1. Yield our desires to the Holy Spirit
2. Be ever ready to listen to His voice
3. Be diligent to be in the Word to hear from our Chief Shepherd
4. When God directs, we follow…no matter who may get ticked
May we take the hind-sight lesson from Saul’s life and dedicate our lives to hearing His Voice and following it!
What are your thoughts?