THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
CHOOSING SERVANT LEADERS
Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 16:1-13
In this episode of the anointing of David, we learn a number
of things about God and how He works in our lives, especially
in choosing servant leaders.
First, God chooses and calls and anoints. And God is never
wrong, because He is perfect. But how come Saul, His chosen
and anointed one, failed and was ultimately rejected by Him?
“The Lord said to Samuel: How long will you grieve for
Saul, whom I have rejected as king of Israel?” (v.1a).
God did not make a mistake, but Saul did. He became disobedient
and haughty and acted not according to God’s intent
but according to His own ways.
have several lessons here for servant leaders.
because God did choose, anoint and use you does not mean
you cannot lose the anointing. You need to keep clinging
to Him in humility and obedience.
must act according to God’s intent, as His instrument,
otherwise you can lose it all, since God has entrusted you
with His very own divine work, but you, even with fullness
of His grace and equipping, might not be acting accordingly.
always mindful of your nothingness and that everything you
are and are able to do is due to God’s grace and mercy.
Be very careful of pride, triumphalism, and increasing while
God decreases (listen to John the Baptist; John 3:30).
God does have His eternal plan and in that plan, He has decided
whom He will use and how. He told Samuel, “I am sending
you to Jesse of Bethlehem, for from among his sons I have
decided on a king.” (v.1c). God continues to work in
the world, as we see throughout salvation history. God intends
to bring His people back to Himself. In this, God makes use
of human instruments in various ways. Perhaps as a prophet
who speaks on God’s behalf. Perhaps as a leader who
will choose and help form other leaders. Perhaps as someone
who has never served God before but is now being called.
need to know that God does have a plan for us, from all eternity.
The key is to be able to discern that specific plan of God
for us. Why, God might intend you to be a great missionary,
or a great President of a nation. What must we do?
You must know Jesus and begin to take on his mind and heart.
This way, when He does call us to greater service, we can
properly discern, and not miss out on the great things God
has already planned for us.
Especially for servant leaders, you must be prayerful, knowledgeable
of the Bible, and growing in holiness.
You must be ready to submit yourself to the will of God,
and not insist on your own ideas, preferences and priorities.
God is a God of truth and He does not lie nor deceive. But
did God not instruct Samuel how to deceive people about his
true mission? “But Samuel replied: ‘How can I
go? Saul will hear of it and kill me.’ To this the Lord
answered: Take a heifer along and say, ‘I have come
to sacrifice to the Lord.’” (v.2). This gives
us an insight into Jesus’ teaching that we are to be
shrewd as serpents but innocent as doves, because we are sheep
being sent among wolves. We deal with a sinful world dominated
by the evil one. Thus, while lying is a sin, there is such
a thing as a “white lie” or a fib.
before you all jump on me on this, please allow me to explain
to you how you can, or need to, be shrewd as serpents. For
that you will have to read Day 23 on “Shrewd as Serpents”
in my book “40 Days of Challenge in the Christian Life”
(I am sorry but there is no room in this article for that).
For now, suffice it to say that the intent is not to deceive
for selfish purposes (which is the usual thing with a lie)
but to be able to do things according to God’s will
while in a hostile world. If Samuel would tell people his
true mission, as they would surely ask him why he is in a
certain place (see v.4), that he came to anoint a new king,
Saul would kill him, and that would have been the end of his
mission, even before he got started.
are some contemporary situations where we tell a white lie
for the sake of mission?
When you smuggle Bibles or religious items into nations
or places that are antagonistic to the Christian faith,
and authorities would confiscate and destroy such. Thus
when the authorities asks, “are you carrying any Bibles?,”
it is shrewd to say “No.”
you are doing mission in a nation or place where Christian
activity is prohibited, and so a priest or a missionary
would go under the cover of being, say, a businessman. When
the authorities ask, “So you are here on business?,”
one should say “Yes.” No need to justify in
our mind that yes we are doing God’s business. Rather,
we are deliberately deceiving secular powers that are trying
to prevent the work of the Lord.
I give a few more examples in the above-mentioned book,
not all connected with the mission of spreading the gospel.
Fourth, God has His own standards, which are very different
from our human ones. Samuel on God’s instruction invited
the elders and Jesse and his sons to the sacrifice. Jesse
brought seven sons, excluding the youngest. “As they
came, he looked at Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the anointed
is here before the Lord.’” (v.6). Perhaps it was
because Eliab was the first born, as first-born sons in Israel
had a place of prominence. Or perhaps it was just that he
stood out from the rest of his brothers (just as Saul stood
out above the people; see 1 Sm 9:2). But Samuel, the great
prophet, was wrong! “But the Lord said to Samuel: Do
not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because
I have rejected him.” (v.7a).
about us? How do we select leaders? Here are some guidelines.
is not necessarily according to worldly standards. The world
chooses the one who is intelligent, highly placed in society,
personable and sociable, has money, talks well, speaks good
English, and so on.
God can and does use anyone, even the least, at times especially
the least. If other good human or social qualities are there,
those are just a bonus (if at all).
Well, how does God select leaders? “God does not see
as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The Lord looks into
the heart.” (v.7b). Look not at the outside but at
the inside. Look to such virtues as humility, commitment,
zeal and obedience, as well as manifestations of the fruit
of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22).
God chooses and anoints, but He uses other leaders to “choose”
and “anoint” (like Samuel), of course in His name
and according to His will. God had told Samuel that he would
choose the next king from among Jesse’s sons. So Samuel
invited Jesse, who brought his seven sons. They were presented
each in turn to Samuel, who rejected them all. “The
Lord has not chosen any one of these.” (v.10).
those were all the sons presented. What now? What would we
have done? Would we not have presumed that those were all
the sons, given the honor of that invitation from such an
important person, as well as just obedience to the prophet’s
call? So would we perhaps have gone through each son again,
because God already said it would be one of Jesse’s
sons? Would we have applied our own criteria, watering these
down a bit, in order to be able to make a choice? What should
we do in such situations?
We should go back to prayer, seeking God’s wisdom,
asking for His guidance, going beyond our own human limitations
to try to tap on to the mind of the Master we are serving.
We should strive to see beyond what our human eyes can see,
to expand our vision.
should seek inspiration from the One who sends us to do
His work. At that moment that seems to be what happened
to Samuel, as he got some interior sense, perhaps a prodding
from God. “Then Samuel asked Jesse, ‘Are these
all the sons you have?’” (v.11a).
Sixth, God often confounds the wisdom of the wise. God just
does not think as we do. Do you wonder why the world is in
such a deep mess, even with all the intelligent people around?
Well, it is simply because they decide things according to
their human wisdom and not God’s. In this case, Jesse
did not think to bring his youngest son. Someone had to tend
the sheep, and the youngest was the least so he got that task.
As to the elders of the city, they knew that Jesse had eight
sons, but none of them even thought of the youngest. They
all had written off the youngest as not even worthy to be
part of the important gathering. But when the young man was
brought in, the Lord said to Samuel, “Thereanoint
him, for this is the one!” (v.12b). Even the Lord got
is interesting that in all this time, including the writing
of this account, the name of the eighth son was not being
mentioned. Even when Samuel asked Jesse if he had other sons,
Jesse said yes, there is the “youngest.” It seemed
as if Jesse was even dismissive of this son. This son, as
we know, was David, who would become the great king of Israel,
who was a man after God’s own heart.
great divine irony, David is left out and he is out “tending
the sheep.” (v.11b). In God’s kingdom, among the
greatest are those who tend to God’s sheep. Indeed,
the lowly servant has become the great leader.
Seventh, God anoints, equips and empowers those whom He chooses.
When Samuel anointed him, “from that day on, the spirit
of the Lord rushed upon David.” (v.13). Perhaps up to
that time, David was just one other man doing a lowly task.
He had no experience at all in leadership, much less in being
the overall leader. In his family, being the youngest, he
was probably the errand boy of all his brothers. When Israel
was at war with the Philistines, Jesse’ three oldest
sons were part of the army, but David was just a delivery
boy of food for his brothers. But God had chosen him, and
now God anointed him. Because David was called in accordance
with God’s eternal plan, because his destiny was being
fulfilled, God equipped and empowered him, as His spirit rushed
upon him. Rushed? Even the Holy Spirit was excited!!
Is God calling you, having chosen you to be His servant leader?
In addition, would you allow me to be facetious in order to
drive home the point? Husbands, if your wife is a little chubby
(I am being charitable) and she asks you “Am I fat?,”
would you just say “Yes”? Or would you say something
like “No, you are not fat” (liar, liar), or “Well,
I have been telling you to go on a diet” (insensitive
and not wise), or, for the more experienced husbands, “You
are OK just as you are”? Was there a bit of deception
in this latter answer? I have no time to teach you about the
differences between men and women but I refer you to that
age-old sage, Qoheleth II. Please read his book, “Females
are Fabulous” (check out Chapter 4 on “Me Mars,
You Venus”). The white lie is in this case not for the
sake of mission, but for the sake of survival, and of course
the good of the relationship.
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