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Liabilities and Leadership

The older I get the more fascinated I am with the dynamic of leadership. True leadership is not about the leader only; the acts of the leader can create great liabilities for those being led, liabilities that have generational repercussions.

A liability, per our new “go to source” Wikipedia, can mean “something that is a hindrance or puts an individual or group at a disadvantage, or something that increases the chance of something occurring (i.e. it is a cause).”

What took me here this morning was a growing awareness in my read thru the book of Samuel. Saul alone was not Israel’s problem, but as well, David’s response to Saul.

Near the end of I Samuel in chapter 27:1 a phrase, apparently read over many times, now caught my eye: “But David thought to himself, one of these days I will be destroyed by the hand of Saul.” Paranoia takes its toil when a leader begins to consider self preservation over providence. Heretofore God had covered David against the lion, the bear, the Philistines and many times, even Saul. Yet, we find this budding leader second guessing God.

The timing around our second guessing may be more important than the incident, and quite often signals a significant Kingdom moment for the experienced leader. By second guessing, I am not implying that a leader not think strategically before executing, but fear based self talk and wisdom are two entirely different things.

If one reads chapter 26, we see a potential turn around moment for the deluded Saul, once a humble man whom many admired, one obviously anointed, and a prophet by his on rights. Would a God of mercy not salvage such potential?

At this critical juncture in the future of Israel, rather than trusting God when met with the fears that come to all aspiring leaders, David takes his family and some 600 loyal followers and flees, thus further distancing Saul from the influence of righteous counsel, given that Samuel was also dead.

Terror enters the heart of Saul and rather than having the benefit of a truth telling friend, which could have developed had David stood his ground, Saul summons a witch, the very thing he had earlier forbidden his subordinates. I know this sounds speculative but the longer I spend time in the scriptures, overlaid with personal leadership experiences, and even my experience with Godly leaders, I am convinced of the marvelous capacity of scripture to both communicate the sovereignty of God while disclosing the ills of those whom God used to capture His-story.

David’s paranoid moment set off a predictable path for Saul that led first to a witch, then a confirmation of Saul’s eventual loss of the Kingdom and death, the inevitable product of sin. What if the spirit conjured up by the Witch of Endor was not Samuel but a manifestation of Saul’s worst fears? What if David had trusted God, the God whom we now know as Jesus (quite a contrast to the Old Testament God that Israel had experienced in their rebellion), would Israel, Saul and David have had a different future, one of grace and mercy, rather than bloodshed, civil war and eventually, adultery for David?


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