1 Kings 12 contains a blueprint for successful leadership within any sphere of influence, be it ministry, business, or family. After the death of his father, King Solomon, Rehoboam prepared to ascend the throne of Israel. Immediately the new king received a message of entreaty from his subjects, “And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of they father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee” (1 Kings 12:3-4).
Asking for three days in which to consider their request, Rehoboam proceeded to consult with the elders who had served under Solomon. Their advice encapsulates some of the wisest leadership principles ever given, “And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be they servants for ever” (1 Kings 12:7). If leaders will adopt this code of conduct, it can produce productive administration. Moreover, this is also superb advice for husbands and wives as well as parents and children. In essence, this was the sage wisdom of the aged counselors:
- Have the heart of a servant modeled by inner attitude and outward actions.
- Take time to talk with people; have a mentoring mentality (a good leader, spouse or parent always takes time to invest in others).
- Be an encourager, one who gives compliments, a builder of people; make them feel significant, speak words that will build others up, not tear them down. Proverbs 16:21 and 24 reiterate this tenet, “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning…Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul and health to the bones.”
Lamentably, the inexperienced sovereign rejected their wise words and consulted with his foolish friends. Nevertheless, another important lesson can also be gleaned from this scenario. Before our godly elders pass off the scene, we should take time to sit at their feet and learn from them. Let their years of effective ministry be passed on and implanted in our hearts so their legacy of outstanding leadership can survive in God’s Kingdom.
If our desire is to create an environment where a serving, mentoring and encouraging mentality prevails, then as leaders we must lead the way by word and deed. It does not take any skill or tact to be like a wrecking ball, which demolishes everything around us. However, like a master craftsman, a proficient leader will hone his ability to bring forth and bring out the best in those who are influenced by his or her leadership. Instead of destroying dreams, let us build bridges of hope that will enable others to cross over into their greatest potential.
by Ruth Rieder