THE SERVANT GENERAL
ON SERVANT LEADERSHIP
FAILING AND FALLING
Today’s reading: 2 Samuel 24:2-17
continue to learn about servant leadership in the Old Testament
story of David, that great servant leader (king), with regards
to the census and the plague.
On numbering the people
King David ordered a census of the Israelites “that
I may know their number.” (v.2). God was displeased.
This is because God’s people belonged to Him and not
to His instrument or top servant leader, and so only He needs
to know their exact number.
whether in parishes or communities, we do number our people.
This is to know how we stand and what work we can do. Joab’s
census gave “figures to the king: of men capable of
wielding a sword” (v.9). How can we move confidently
forward, especially in war (for us, spiritual), if we do not
know our manpower or financial resources?
what is right: do we number our people or not? It depends
on one’s intent. If it is to serve God unselfishly as
a true servant leader, then it is OK and even necessary. But
if it is to be triumphalistic or proud of numbers or to feel
superior to others, then it is very wrong.
us, we number our brethren in CFC-FFL, for many good pastoral
purposes, and for the sake of continuing mission. For LCSC,
which is a movement, we look at results of programs, but do
not maintain a list of LCS graduates or keep detailed info
on those who become part of the movement. God knows, and we
just need to know the broad strokes of where God is bringing
Sinning against the Lord
David had his selfish intent in numbering the Israelites.
As king, he could then exercise centralized power, impose
taxation, conscription and expropriation upon Israel (NAB
footnote). David later “regretted having numbered the
people. David said to the Lord: ‘I have sinned grievously
in what I have done.” (v.10a). We all make mistakes,
and we all many times miss what is God’s intent for
us as His servant leaders. We must be humble enough to admit
times like these, we can always look to God’s mercy.
“Take away, Lord, your servant’s guilt, for I
have acted very foolishly.” (v.10b). We repent sincerely,
and we are forgiven.
restores us to God, by His mercy. But sin always has consequences.
So David had three choices of terrible consequences (v.13).
For us, Jesus already paid the price for our sins, but we
pay the price for the consequences of our sins. This is a
good thing. This is how we learn not to go against God’s
ways. This is the experience of true mercy, where we are led
to a turnaround and a transformation of life. We take the
bitter pill and move on. “I am greatly distressed. But
let us fall into the hand of God, whose mercy is great, rather
than into human hands.” (v.14).
here is a sobering reality. As servant leaders, we not only
suffer the consequences of our sins, but our sins adversely
affect the lives of those we lead. David chose the plague,
and “seventy thousand of the people died.” (v.15).
If only we were the ones to suffer for what we do wrong. “It
is I who have sinned; it is I, the shepherd, who have done
wrong. But these sheep, what have they done? Strike me and
my father’s family!” (v.17). But again, our sins
affect others. If the shepherd does not watch and protect
the sheep or abandons them, then they will be lost, will go
hungry, or be devoured by predators. Be very mindful of your
responsibility as a servant leader!
Looking to God’s mercy
Servant leaders have such an important task, as God entrusts
His work to them. With such a great privilege comes great
responsibility. As such, we will be punished for our neglect,
serve a demanding and jealous God, who looks to our commitment,
loyalty and faithfulness. God alone! But our just God is also
our merciful God. We will indeed fall and fail, but we can
look with confidence to God’s mercy. “But when
the angel stretched forth his hand toward Jerusalem to destroy
it, the Lord changed his mind about the calamity, and said
to the angel causing the destruction among the people: Enough
now! Stay your hand.” (v.16a).