One of the greatest traps a leader can fall into is to think that they need to plead for people to follow them.
As someone who is in the ‘start up’ phase of planting a new church, this is especially tempting!
But when the security of our leadership is determined by how many people are following us rather than the direction we are heading in, we become slaves to the chorus of the crowd rather than a servant pursuing the call of God.
Saul’s leadership was tested at the ‘start up’ phase his reign as king of Israel. The elderly prophet, Samuel had just proclaimed him as the first king, and as expected, the hearts of many people were stirred to go with him:
‘When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a group of men whose hearts God had touched went with him’ -1 Samuel 10:26 (NLT)
However there was also a contingent of men who refused to recognise his leadership:
‘But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present’ (10:27b)
Saul had come from the least respected clan of Israel and may not have had the experience and charisma that demanded the respect of these battle hardened men of war. He may have been perceived him as a coward – for when he was announced as king, he couldn’t be found as he was hiding behind the baggage!
But regardless of the reason, in this time of history this refusal to ‘bring a gift’ was almost the equivalent of treason and a slap in the face of Saul’s authority as king. But rather than reacting out of insecurity he simply ‘held his peace’ (10:27b).
Saul recognised that if God had called him to lead, he wouldn’t need to plead for people to follow. This may have seen like weak leadership, but in actual fact Saul’s self control demonstrated the strength of conviction that was rooted in the anointing of God rather than the approval of man.
Shortly after this challenge to his kingship, Saul led Israel into a great victory over their enemies, thereby justifying his position by leading instead of pleading with them.
Never give into the temptation to plead instead of lead, but ‘hold your peace’ and follow the call of God over the chorus of the crowd!