THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
LOOKING TO GOD’S ANOINTED
January 20, 2012
Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 24:3-21
Today’s reading is about
how David spared Saul’s life, when he had the opportunity
to kill him, as Saul was pursuing him to take his life. David’s
reason? “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing
to my master, the Lord’s anointed, as to lay a hand
on him, for he is the Lord’s anointed.” (1 Sm
24:7). David, in the same breath, gave his reason twice: “he
is the Lord’s anointed.”
When God chooses us for servant
leadership, He anoints us. After all, we are stepping into
Jesus’ sandals, doing his divine work. On our own we
are unfit. But because we have been chosen to be God’s
instruments, in order that we might accomplish His will, then
God provides, equips, qualifies, enables, strengthens, empowers.
In other words, He anoints.
Now this does not mean we
become transformed into gods. Far from it. We remain our sinful
selves, and often God is able to do His work only in spite
of us! Thus is the seeming anomaly: leaders anointed by God,
but still failing in many respects.
Now oftentimes, subordinates
only see the failings. Then they begin to act negatively towards
their superiors--disrespecting, questioning the authority
of, acting harshly toward, disobeying, putting down, and so
on. That is wrong. That is akin to rebuking the very authority
of the one who anoints, and that is Jesus.
What then should a subordinate do in the face of seeming failings
of those over him?
First, we should recognize
that authority and anointing do not necessarily mean a perfect
leader. In fact, looking at the very choices of Jesus, the
twelve apostles, they were a motley crew, with many imperfections.
It is recognizing that God indeed chooses the lowly and no-accounts
to do His work (1 Cor 1:26-29). As such, we are able to make
generous allowances for shortcomings.
Second, we certainly can speak
out, directly to our elder, but with respect. David called
“to Saul, ‘My lord the king!’” and
“bowed to the ground in homage,” then “asked
Saul ....” (1 Sm 24:9-10). We do not have to silently
endure what we see to be wrong. We can reason out with him.
We can even give fraternal correction. But we must be sure
that our motives are pure, that we “plan no harm and
no rebellion.” (1 Sm 24:12c).
Third, we should realize that
oftentimes, because we ourselves are very imperfect, we may
be wrong in our assessment of our elder, that in fact our
posture and position are what are in error. David quoted to
Saul a proverb, “From the wicked comes forth wickedness”
and then concluded, “So I will take no action against
you.” (1 Sm 24:14). We must look to ourselves closely,
challenging our own motivations and reasoning in complaining
against our elders.
Fourth, we should be mindful
of the elder’s task, which is to care for the flock
including all his subordinates. He oftentimes acts like a
father to his children. He loves them. Now being imperfect,
just like any father, he errs, he hurts, he acts unwisely.
But that does not make him any less a father. David said to
Saul, “I will not raise a hand against my lord, for
he is the Lord’s anointed and a father to me.”
(1 Sm 24:11b). So rather, we make allowances for an elder’s
shortcomings, we give him the benefit of the doubt, we love
unconditionally, we pray for God’s wisdom upon him,
and so on. We should try to help him out rather than just
opposing him outright. We still treat him generously, even
when we feel he has done us harm (1 Sm 24:18b).
Finally, we leave everything
up to God. Since he is God’s anointed, then it is God
who acts to remove him if needed. We do not take on the authority
of God by rejecting one whom He anoints. So David said to
Saul, “The Lord will judge between me and you, and the
Lord will exact justice from you in my case. I shall not touch
you.” (1 Sm 24:13).
When God calls servant leaders to serve Him, He certainly
knows their weaknesses and shortcomings. Still, He intends
to go great things through them. Knowing that God knows, and
will still act, our part then is to not get in the way, and
to not take over judgment from God. We should in fact try
to see how we can cooperate with God’s grace, and help
ensure that God’s anointed is able to accomplish his
Such a posture helps ensure
unity and peace in the body.