This is the second Sunday of the Pentecost season; we continue to learn about, and reflect on leadership.
This week, what kind of leadership do you want especially when life threatens, there is conflict, and unexpected vulnerability.
Each of us is a leader whether you agree or not. People lead a congregation, a community, a company, a classroom or their own lives. Some leaders are better and heathier than others in terms of their behaviors, personality and experience.
Leadership requires more strength when people live in war, conflict and times of pandemic disease like we have been experiencing with Covid-19 in this world.
Some are more curious about leadership then others. Leadership helps make things possible and available for what they want and wish for.
On the other hand, leadership is power, power, as in control over or power of service.
However, unfortunately, many think that leadership is something that can be taken, or possessed through fighting and exerting power over.
The story from 1 Samuel today is about a new leadership for the Israelites.
It happened when Samuel was old, and unable to provide leadership as well as before and people knew that Samuel couldn’t be exercising effective leadership much longer. Samuel had two sons. They had Godly names.
His first son’s name was Joel, which means “Yahweh is God.” His second son’s name was Abijah, which means “My father is Yahweh”. Father Samuel has appointed his two sons- Joel and Abijah judges over Israel. Sadly, they had no success as judges. Their work was shoddy and they did not know how to take responsibility. They have failed to follow their father Samuel’s example of faithful leadership.
The elders of Israel came up and said to Samuel. Behold, you are old, and your sons don’t walk in your ways “now make us a king to judge us“(v. 5b).
The elders had complained to Samuel. You are too old to lead us anymore and your two sons are not good leaders. We need a king, who can rule the nation and its people.
Here we need to pause and think about a king and kingship.
In old times, what was a king? People believed that Kings could do everything like God. A King was a strong wall protecting nations and people from whatever they feared the most. A King could do anything that protected the nation and people from the chaos. A king also promised to bring them out from danger and chaos in their lives.
Sometimes we still wish and dream about this kind of leadership or kingship in our church, community and the world. Someone who will tell us that we don’t need to be afraid.
At the time the Israelites thought that they needed a king- kingship for their own reasons.
They knew that all of the surrounding nations had kings and were influenced by their kingships. The Israelites were concerned that Samuel might die and his two sons were not good leaders and took advantage with their power and their positions, just as we have seen our own politicians around the world today.
Another reason was they needed strong leadership who would represent power and security and lead them into battle.
Samuel prayed to God and told him what the people wanted in a king.
He heard the voice of God saying:
“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day, I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
God says to Samuel very clearly, how come the people of Israel forgot that I God, who is the Christ, and King, brought them out from their slavery in Egypt and led them to the promise land? Why do they forget about it and wish for a different king?
We often believe that we can change the leader and solve the problems. The problems come; we are wanting to change the leader. To some degree, it may work, but the leader is not a problem solver.
A Leader or a king can’t’ be perfect for everyone. When something bad happens or we encounter a difficult situation, we humans naturally blame someone else and protect ourselves and that is part of the problem.
The Israelites were no different. They were wanting to have a king even though they never had a king before. They were losing their own identity and, instead they were trying to be someone else.
God was their king from the beginning but they had forgotten about God and they wanted to make their nation what they wished for, rather than following God’s vision and hope.
Sometimes it happens that the decision might bring worse consequences but sometimes we have no choice but to let go.
Samuel had the same feeling and knew that the present monarch doesn’t appear to be God according to his initial plan. God worked with creation and eventually anointed David from whose lineage came Jesus. Israel had 43 kings over 450 years, and only 8 of them followed God. Most of the human leaders created more problems for the Israelites than they solved.
This story is about leadership. God gives us the ability to choose between right and wrong and then suffer the consequences. God limits God’s power to allow for us to make decisions, but God always shows God’s power of grace, allowing good things to happen from our poor decisions. One example was the dynasty of King David, which had a historical significance beyond measure.
We have been called by God to do good works. We have to be on guard against anything that would hinder that work. Samuel’s story reminds us that God has called us to take our leadership in a specific situation, and for ourselves not only for others.
When we live in the world, we are influenced by the political and cultural environment more than we realize. This is so true as we have been experiencing since this world Pandemic.
Leaders become more important than ever before. Depending on the leader, people may have fewer battles, or they may suffer and experience bad consequences. Recently, our church lost 4 church members. This is something that we can think about as we contemplate how much care, emotionally and spiritually we and our loved ones need.
Many families near and far have been suffering from this virus. Many people have died
What things do we need the most for today’s world? What kind of leadership do we want for this church?
This world has been in battle – between the virus, humans and all creation.
We all return to God who is the source of life, justice and love. We long to be reunited with God and believe that God will lead as king and word.
We all turn to God to confess and ask forgiveness for our unclean minds and hearts and serve God. Finally, we thank you God who always welcomes us and God does not stop loving us.
God is waiting for us until we are ready to see God’s vision and hope, and God does not just wait, God is also willing to initiate it too. Where do you see God’s upside-down work in this world and in us?