The more life I live, the more I seem to realize that I'm not quite the man of confidence that I sometimes think I am. That isn't easy to admit, but if most of us guys were honest with ourselves, we'd come to that conclusion. Case in point: a couple months back I decided it was time to change the rear brakes on the minivan. Brakes for me have become a rather easy job. Disc brakes, anyway. And since I had just a couple months before this occasion changed the front brake pads, I thought that this would be a quick, easy fix. After all, the rear has disc brakes, too.
Boy was I wrong. Not in the actual brake job. The pads were easy to fix. But the last place to put tires on apparently cross threaded the lug nuts on 3 of the studs, and when I cranked the tire iron, it snapped the studs. I lost a couple studs on the right side after successfully changing the pads on the left side. I decided I'd better go buy the studs and prepare to replace them. I did my homework, and found videos on You Tube teaching how to replace broken wheel studs. Finally, I was prepared. I presumed for sure that I could handle it.
I went to do the repair behind the church office, and got the 3 remaining lug nuts off. I now had one good stud. But I didn't have a hammer big and heavy enough to knock the broken studs out. Finally, after a couple hours of trying, I gave up and called help in from one better equipped for the job. He drove over, and with one swing to each, he removed the broken studs. I was happy, though I had been humbled. I learned some things that day.
Today's reading of the Bible took me to 1 Samuel 11. Samuel was the newly appointed king of Israel, and already an enemy picked a fight with a town. Upon surrounding the town of Jabesh-Gilead, they demanded that all the men have their right eyes gouged out. Sounds painful, eh? Humiliating, not to mention it would render them useless in battle. So they sent for help. When word came to the new king, I was stunned by what I read:
"When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, "What is wrong with the people? Why are they weeping?" Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said." 1 Sam. 11:5
Did you catch that? I'm pretty certain the bold type doesn't appear in the Hebrew. But it sure jumps off the page as if it did. This wasn't just a regular guy-at least not anymore. This was the king! This was the newly anointed leader of God's people. Like an old Sesame Street segment, I think I need to find the one thing that just doesn't belong. Why on earth is a king plowing the field with oxen? Shouldn't the dude have people for that? I mean, if I'm king, y'all, I'm appointing people for that kind of work. I'll sit in my air conditioned throne room, with my mega 1080dp 16:9 man screen and watch ball games (obviously translating this to modern times!) while the more laborious tasks are done by others. Maybe it's a good thing I'm not the king, eh?
But that isn't what we find Saul doing. He was king, yet he was plowing the field. What humility! The Bible says that at his coronation, he was hiding, even though he stood head and shoulder above everyone else. He was hiding among the baggage. Samuel had to search him out. He reluctantly took the crown. With all the bad (and deserved) press Saul gets in the Word of God, the man had a good start. He was a humble, broken man. I think we'd do well to study this early period in his life as leaders. Pastors, take note. Youth workers, this applies to you. In fact, I don't care if you head the janitorial staff in your ministry or workplace; all leaders need to study this. True leaders aren't born that way. They start really as good followers. They start as good learners, taking direction from those over them. This isn't a place for a presumptuous confidence like I had when it came to those pesky wheel studs.
That isn't all, though. Look at what Saul did when the news of the besieging of Jabesh-Gilead reached his ears. He burned with a holy, righteous anger, and he mustered the troops and rushed to the defense of his people. And did they ever clean house. But what's interesting is that for some reason, Saul is given another conronation, Samuel again emceeing the event, as he did the first time. Why did they do this twice? Isn't it a bit redundant? Not really. Let me explain.
Saul was no question king. Yet, in the eyes of the nation, he had proved himself. When trouble came, Saul got busy and executed a plan (not to mention the enemy!). He didn't just wear the title; he showed that he had the intestinal fortitude to do what had to be done. How many leaders today have this? How many pastors and ministry leaders really have the guts to make the tough decisions when the need arises? Do I? I have to ask myself that. I may be a pastor, and my church may accept me as such, but when push comes to shove, do I show it by my actions? It could be as simple as returning a phone call, or paying a visit to the hospital to see a sick or dying person. It may be stepping up to the plate against the false attacks of the enemy as he uses those around us. A leader isn't a leader in name alone; he/she is a leader in deed.
This is a time personally for me to examine my own motives for why I do what I do. Why am I a pastor? Am I operating in the humility God requires? Am I able to make the tough decisions to cause God's Kingdom to grow? Am I proving, not just to those I'm charged to lead, but to myself that I'm who I should be? That I'm truly walking in the call on my life?
If you're a leader, no matter the area, I implore you to reflect on these questions. Let the light of the Word of God illuminate your heart and your motives.