They said to King Rehoboam, “Your father [King Solomon] 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.” 1 Kings 12:4
Are you a leader? Perhaps you are a supervisor or crew leader at your job? Maybe a team leader in your office? Possibly a small group leader for youth? Perhaps a ministry leader? Or, maybe you are a leader for your family? No matter what area you have been given leadership roles, the outcome is always to be the same. How is that? …to be a servant.
King Rehoboam heard the cries of the people he ruled over. His father, King Solomon, was harsh on them requiring heavy work loads with little to no payback. King Rehoboam had a chance. His people cried out for mercy of him, asking that their burdens would be lightened, and in return, they would faithfully respect and serve him as their king.
- King Rehoboam asked for advise at this request. “[The elders] replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” 1 Kings 12:7
But, he did not heed the advise of the elders, but instead, after consulting his friends, he sided with them instead…
- He said to the people, “My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’” 1 Kings 12:11
The people, of course, were not happy and so, many of them fled the kingdom, and those that stayed rebelled, including a group who then killed King Rehoboam’s labor supervisor. The King had to flee to Jerusalem as he was afraid for his life… Not the outcome he expected.
- “When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them. King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram,who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem.” 1 Kings 12:16-18
In the New Testament, we gain a better understanding of a true servant leader through the example and teachings of Jesus.
- He said to a leader, “Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’” Matthew 18:33
King Reheboam received the same advise that Jesus would have given him, but would have he listened if those same words came from the very lips of Jesus Christ, himself?
As leaders, in whatever regard you lead, the very lips of Jesus Christ speaks to us about our leadership. We are to be last amongst those we lead. We are to be their servants. We are to sacrifice for them. We are to care for them as our own children. We must be a slave to them and their needs, showing grace, mercy, and love. If we are not, then we are not leading as Jesus intended.
- “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—” Matthew 20:25-27
- “Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.”” Mark 9:5
Thank you, Jesus, for showing us a model of how to lead others. Humble us to be the most humble of servant leaders, full of your love, your wisdom, your mercy, and your grace. You are the greatest leader the world has ever known. What a teacher we have! Help us to aspire to be more like you and less like wordly leaders. In Jesus Name. Amen.
“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. ” Luke 22:27