THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
FACING THE ENEMY
1 Samuel 18:6-19:7
For the past few days, we have been seeing how we are to trust
God for our service and as we are engaged in spiritual warfare.
This is crucial, as we face a formidable enemy, but in addition,
we at times also have the enemy within. All assault us in
some way. “My foes treat me harshly all the day; yes,
many are my attackers. O Most High, when I am afraid, in you
I place my trust.” (Ps 56:3-4).
we should not mind engaging the enemy, that is, the evil one
and his minions. But what of the enemy within? Those who are
brethren and co-workers? This is happening in many different
ways in our Church.
liberals/progressives bash the traditionals/conservatives.
Church organizations and associations speak ill of other
Church orgs or groups.
parish ministries put down other parish ministries.
in Christian community speak ill and malign their leaders.
the above are of course wrong. Those who do such things will
be held accountable by God. But these things have been happening
since time immemorial, and will continue to happen. We are
not in control of others. But the one we can speak for is
ourself. What are we to do?
place ourselves in God’s hands and look to His mercy.
“Have mercy on me, God, for I am treated harshly;
attackers press me all the day.” (Ps 56:2).
put our trust in God, basing this trust in His expressed
word, the Bible. “I praise the word of God; I trust
in God, I do not fear.” (Ps 56:5a).
we put our trust in God, we are ready to endure whatever
assaults human beings can bring upon us. “What can
mere flesh do to me?” (Ps 56:5b).
do not retaliate nor act in the wrong ways that they do,
but we bring our case to God and let Him decide what to
do. “They are evil; watch them, God!” (Ps 56:8a).
Now vengeance is the Lord’s. We trust in His right
judgment and right timing. If He wills, then evildoers will
be punished. “Cast the nations down in your anger!”
know God is on the side of the upright, and that God will
protect and defend us. “My foes turn back when I call
on you. This I know: God is on my side.” (Ps 56:10).
continue doing good, fulfilling our promises to God, living
our covenant, persevering in service. “I have made
vows to you, God; with offerings I will fulfill them”
Now as servant leaders, we not only not speak against others,
including leaders over us, but we must desire the good of
others, especially our co-workers and comrades-in-arms --
those we serve, those we serve under, those who serve with
us, those who serve under us.
particular, a servant leader raises up other servant leaders,
so that the work will continue beyond him. In fact, he should
desire that his subordinates even surpass him in doing good
things for the Lord. He should not be threatened by good servant
leaders. He should not protect his position by putting emerging
leaders down. He should not be envious of those who are better
than him, but rather rejoice in such a case.
was not the case with Saul in regard to David. When David
was becoming more popular than him due to his battle accomplishments,
“Saul was very angry and resentful .... Saul kept a
jealous eye on David.” (1 Sm 18:8-9). The problem with
this is not just the obvious sin in resentment, jealousy and
putting down others. The bigger problem is opening ourselves
up to the work of the evil one. “The next day an evil
spirit from God rushed upon Saul” (1 Sm 18:10a). Now
God does not inflict evil on us, but what this means is that
God somehow withheld His merciful and protective hand on Saul,
so that the enemy that is always lurking looking for an opening
did find one, and immediately rushed in. Even Saul realized
later that the Lord “had turned away from” him
(1 Sm 18:12b).
was the result? Saul “raged in his house.” (1
Sm 18:10b). His envy brought him deeper into the mire. Now
he tried to kill David (1 Sm 18:11). He plotted against David,
even using his daughters Merob and Michal as pawns. His aim
was to get David killed in battle (1 Sm 18:17,21,25). The
more Saul plotted, the more David became prominent and admired.
Through the various military campaigns, David’s “name
was held in great esteem.” (1 Sm 18:30b). “So
Saul feared David all the more and was his enemy ever after.”
(1 Sm 18:29). How tragic. Saul despised David who was his
best warrior, his loyal servant, his son-in-law. Saul persecuted
David and plotted to take his life, engaging even his own
“son Jonathan and with all his servants.” (1 Sm
The work of God is very important to Him. The spiritual war
is very real, and even if the evil one is already defeated,
he still takes many souls with him to hell. So God depends
on His warriors, His servant leaders. Since this war will
rage until the end of time (though we are in the end times,
it could be another millennium), God wants to have orderly
succession in His army. Leaders need to raise other leaders,
caring for them and forming them. Among subordinates are those
whom God will raise to be great leaders. If one is emerging
but a leader, out of envy or any other invalid reason, tries
to put down that person, this is very displeasing to God and
a great sin. “They are evil” (Ps 56:8a).
are all lowly servants. Only God is the great King, Master,
Commander-in-Chief. We must have the posture of David, especially
as we face honor and renown. Being offered Saul’s daughter
as his wife, David declined and said, “I am poor and
insignificant.” (1 Sm 18:23). While Saul would do anything,
including murder, to retain his power and position, David
rejected these. It is ironic that David succumbs much later
to this evil when he in turn is the king, as he in effect
murders Uriah to hide his adultery with Uriah’s wife
Bathsheba. Beware of lust, and lust for power and position!
servant leaders, always look to God. When God works in and
through you, maintain your humility (after all, we can only
succeed because of God). When maligned, assaulted or plotted
against, do not retaliate in kind, but rather keep your trust
in God. And never fear the enemy, whether without or within.
“In God I trust, I do not fear. What can man do to me?”