Have you every been reading a story—one that you may have read a thousand times before—and had something new jump out at you. Something fresh. A revelation you never expected.
I have been recently diving into the very familiar story of Saul and David. God has been hitting me with a lot of fresh revelation about leadership. It struck me that each one of these leaders started out with God’s blessing and favor, but each leader ended their lives and season of leadership in very different places.
In my last post I dove into the first two markers of an insecure leader. So first, an insecure leader has no trust or honest connection with those they lead. Second, they make rash decisions. Today I’m going to dive straight into 3 & 4.
3 – The people you lead are yes-men, and don’t give their honest opinion.
In the second half of 1 Samuel 14, Saul starts trying to make more rash decisions. In the face of this the people he leads consistently respond “Do whatever seems good to you.”
Have you met or worked with a leader that everyone around them tells them to their face that what they are doing is great, then when they leave the room people unleash all of their frustrations? This is the mark of an environment where there is fear of honesty and backlash to critique. If everyone you lead says, “Do whatever seems good to you” this is a warning sign. Are you fostering an environment where improving through honest conversation is more valued than artificial harmony?
For me, when I hear people I lead critique what I do to my face and without fear, I know I’m on the right track. It isn’t comfortable all the time, but this sort of environment means people aren’t controlled by fear. It means your team feels valued and safe. And it only works if you are secure in your calling as a leader, not your ability.
4 – You confuse your rash, emotional decisions with God’s will.
At some point Saul decrees—in the middle of a battle—that the people were to fast from all food. But his son Johnathan didn’t hear about it, and ate hunny (which helped him immensely!). And when he found out about his father’s decree, Johnathan responded,
“My father has imperiled the country. Just look how quickly my energy has returned since I ate a little of this honey! It would have been a lot better, believe me, if the soldiers had eaten their fill of whatever they took from the enemy. Who knows how much worse we could have whipped them!”
—1 Samuel 14:29-30 MSG—
I think Saul should have listened to the people he leads—and to God for that matter—a bit more. I love Johnathan’s honesty! But you know who doesn’t appreciate it? Saul. And when Saul finds out he determines that Johnathan has to die for his disobedience. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a bit over the top (maybe another mark of an insecure leader?). Johnathan was not disobedient to a decree from God, he was unknowingly disobedient to a rash vow from Saul. And the main problem? Saul never heard from God to enact the vow.
So the people turn on him and basically say, “What?! Johnathan was the hero, and saved us today! We stand behind Johnathan 100% and forbid you to touch a hair on his head.”
This was too much for the people. They couldn’t hide their opinion anymore. And it took a clearly wrong move on Saul’s part to get that reaction.
As a leader, it is sometimes difficult to discern between what we think and what God is actually saying. It is a posture of the heart that the people you lead can feel. I often take my thoughts and intentions before God to sift. Our ways are not his ways. Our wisdom is wonderful and beautiful but it doesn’t always line up with his will.
Being secure in your leadership is crucial. Not secure in your own abilities but secure in his calling on you to lead. Everyone is a leader. Everyone has influence over someone else. And your leadership and influence only grows in your surrender to the one who created you to begin with.
Be secure and confident today in your calling!