We’ve all read or at least heard about King Saul in our lifetime somewhere along the way. He was a King who was good in most respects…until he started messing up, then his leadership skills took a nose-dive.
God said of him after a short-while (only 5 chapters after he was annointed King): “I regret that I have made Saul King, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments…” (1 Samuel 15:11 ESV)
That’s not a facebook fan page worthy of following…God regrets his decision to make Saul king…that’s some hurtful stuff. Saul must’ve really stunk…which of course he did.
I’ve decided to do a blog series on all the messed up leadership attributes that Saul has displayed and if I’m honest I see an all to familiar reflection in these leadership fails….I see myself.
One of the things that Saul continued to do throughout his life is put the blame on other people. He rarely owned his issues or his mistakes. The real kicker in this story that always cracks me up is his fake façade with Samuel. He pretends to be super happy to see Samuel and BRAGS about himself and the marvelous job he did by doing what God asked him to do.
Saul is so worried about his image (which we will get to in the next leadership fail) that he runs up to Samuel to prove his worth.
When Samuel calls him out on the spot where he neglected to listen to the Lord, Saul immediately blame shifts and states that: “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the LORD your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.”
He blames the people. He was willing to take credit with Samuel when he thought he could make Samuel think it was good but doesn’t own up to the failure! The scripture clearly states it was Saul and the People (1 Samuel 15:8-9)…not just the people!
We as leaders need to be the first ones to own up to a problem. We should be in the front honestly waving our hands when someone asks who is responsible. In my experience, I fear we pastors (and all Christians for that matter) are like Saul way too often.
When things go bad, it’s easy to point the finger and say: “The board wouldn’t allow me to make changes” or “The church members are too old to move, so we stayed stagnant” or “I have too many office hours to fill so I don’t spend time in the community”.
Leaders MUST own problems. When the people we follow see us owning up to our failures, they can feel free to own up to theirs. When we admit our junk as it is: junk; we can get free of it and grow. However, if we neglect to own it…it won’t change because we’ll continue to sweep it under the carpet and pretend it doesn’t exist!
Good leaders own failures and seek to make it right.
This sad story of Saul’s leadership fail was the beginning of the end for our man Saul, because at the end of this story, we find that God regretted making Saul king: “Then Samuel went to Ramah, and Saul went up to his house in Gibeah of Saul. And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.” (1 Samuel 15:34-35 ESV)
I know for sure that I struggle with this Leadership Fail…I fail to own up to my mess ups, I try to pin the tail on some other donkey but no donkey fits my tail quite like I do. I’ve been trying to work on it and I’ve been trying to be more authentic with both my wife and my ministry.
I want to be the type of leader that God loves and desires in leadership. I don’t desire to be the self-absorbed donkey that so many people turn into (and I myself have been!). It’s tough owning our failures and as leaders it’s tough when we have to swallow our followers mistakes and own those too…but it must be done!
Let’s take one from Saul’s book of tricks and BURN it! May we all learn from his failure and choose within our hearts not to do the same!