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considering leader motivation June 11 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 2Chronicles 12:13-14; 1Kings 14:21; 1Kings 12:1-19; 2Chronicles 10; 1Kings 12:20-24; 2Chronicles 11:1-4; 1Kings 12:25-31; 2Chronicles 11:13-17; 1Kings 12:32-13:34

What Should Motivate Leaders?

Almost everyone is a leader in some capacity. We may be parents, business owners, pastors, military commanders, politicians or some other kind of leader. What should motivate us as leaders?

In our chronological Bible study, King Solomon is dead and his son Rehoboam reigns in his place. One day “the whole assembly of Israel” (1Kings 12:3) meets with King Rehoboam with their newly reappointed labor leader, Jeroboam. They plea with Rehoboam, “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you” (1Kings 12:4, NIV). Apparently, Solomon ruled ruthlessly over his labor force. The new king's elderly advisors counsel him to listen to the labor leaders. His peers, however, are very proud and advise King Rehoboam to answer the labor leaders harshly to show them that he is a more powerful leader than his father. King Rehoboam rejects the advice of the elders and follows the counsel of his friends. This show of brutal strength, instead of compassion, causes ten of the twelve tribes of the united kingdom of Israel to reject him as king. What is our interest in leadership—to show others who is the boss or to serve in the best interests of those whom we lead?

Rehoboam is intent on putting down the rebellion and forcing the ten tribes to submit to his rule. He musters 180,000 men to fight Israel, but God stops him.

This is what the LORD says: “Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.” So they obeyed the word of the LORD and went home again as the LORD had ordered (1Kings 12:24, NIV).

Why does God tear Rehoboam's kingdom in two? The reason for the division is not just poor labor relations. The LORD says,

“I will do this because they [King Solomon and Israel] have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molech the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in my ways, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my statutes and laws as David, Solomon's father, did” (1Kings 11:33, NIV).

Because King Solomon allowed his many wives to influence him toward idolatry, he led the entire nation away from the LORD and toward judgment. God used the labor dispute to bring about his judgment on Israel. We also need to be careful how we lead; obedience to the LORD usually brings his blessing and prosperity, while disobedience brings his discipline and judgment.

In 1Kings 11 God promises Jeroboam a lasting dynasty if he will obey the LORD, but what does Jeroboam do when he is made king of the northern ten tribes of Israel? He does not trust in God but lives by his own wits and acts in fear. He sets up calf and goat idols and his own festival days so the people will not go to Jerusalem in Judah to worship; he does not want his people to change their loyalties. He even sets up his own priests to replace the Levites living among them in their own towns. He does not want the Levites to teach the people the law of the LORD and encourage them to worship in Jerusalem. This idolatry becomes what is termed “the sin of Jeroboam.” Instead of leading the Israelites to follow the LORD, he leads them to follow idols.

How do we act when given positions of authority? Do we act in self-preservation, seeking security for our new position, or do trust in God? Do we lead people in righteousness or do we act in our own self interests? As Christian leaders our security should be in God.

When Jeroboam is rebuked by a prophet of the LORD for leading the people into idolatry, he is angry. “When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, ‘Seize him!’” (1Kings 13:4, NIV). That hand, however, instantly withered.

How do we handle rebukes? Are we angry when challenged or do we respond with humility, consider the rebuke and, if necessary, change our ways? What is our interest—our will or God's will?

After suffering the affliction from God, Jeroboam is forced to humble himself and ask the man of God for prayer to heal his hand. The LORD is gracious to Jeroboam and restores his hand, but, as we will see in future lessons, Jeroboam does not learn from the experience.

Grateful for the healing of his hand, or possibly to curry favor with the prophet, or perhaps to kill him, Jeroboam invites the man of God to his house to dine with him and to receive a gift. The man of God, however, had a word from the LORD not to accept any charity but to deliver the message to Jeroboam and then go back home by a different route. This was not a pleasure trip for the man of God; it had one purpose—to proclaim God's judgment on Jeroboam. On the way home, however, an old prophet of Israel deceives him with a different message “from the LORD.” We are not certain of the purpose of the prophet's deception. Perhaps the old prophet was testing the man of God to see if he would follow The LORD's original revelation.

The man of God is tired and hungry from the journey, and God's “new” message appeals to him. Because the man of God believes this false prophet and does not follow the original counsel of the LORD, he is killed for not honoring the Word of the LORD. This seems harsh. Why would God do that? Jesus says to those of whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). Because the man of God is a true messenger of the LORD, he needed to be completely faithful in carrying out his assignment. What about us; are we interested in our comfort and profits or do we seek to fulfill God's Word completely? We need to beware of false teachers or believers who seek to distract us or compromise our testimony.

Lessons to Live By

  • Our interest in leadership should not be to show others who is the boss but to serve in the best interests of those whom we lead.
  • True spiritual leaders realize their positions are from God. They give him thanks and seek counsel from him. They trust in him. They walk in humility and in fear of the LORD. They seek to serve the people entrusted to their care with the best of their ability.
  • We need to be careful how we lead; obedience to the LORD usually brings his blessing and prosperity, while disobedience brings his discipline and judgment.
  • A leader's security should be in God. Do we know him? (more...)
  • When challenged, leaders should put off their anger, respond with humility, consider the rebuke and, if necessary, repent. Their interest should be doing God's will, not their own.
  • Spiritual leaders should seek to fulfill God's Word completely. They need to beware of false teachers or believers who would seek to distract them or compromise their testimonies.

Focus Verses

Jesus said, ... whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-- just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:26-28, NIV).

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A Look Ahead: Jeroboam and Rehoboam need to let God be their Defense. Will they do it? Check out our Next Lesson and find out what happens and how it applies to us.

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