Cost of Leadership

Judges 8:22-27

22 The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” 23 But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 24 And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” (It was the custom of the Ishmaelites to wear gold earrings.)

25 They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it. 26 The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to seventeen hundred shekels, not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

Tenure

There are leaders who wish to stay in power a little bit longer. And there are leaders who are called for a particular situation. In the Book of Judges, God raised leaders and they led Israel in their lifetime. In the New Testament, when Christ called the first group of leaders for His church, they served Him in their lifetime. 

This lifetime tenure for church leaders is biblical. You may ask, “What if an Elder abuses his authority?” That is one major reason Congregational churches have annual elections to check, balance and ensure that power is not concentrated in the hands of individuals. Well, abuse of power is a possibility but God will punish abusive acts. 

The price of leadership is costly. God may allow a person to be elected to reveal if one has been called or given the gift of leadership. Leadership in the church is not a popularity contest. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit. One can be tempted to politicize church leadership but one has to face and live with the price that comes with it.

It says in Romans 12:6-8, 6We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Does anyone have all of those gifts? Diligence exhibits a gift of leadership. Since it’s a gift from the Holy Spirit, there’s joy and peace that comes with it, even when result is not always favorable. Leadership like other spiritual gifts is God’s design to do His purposes in our life and worship Him. Using our spiritual gift is God’s will for us.

Flashback in Judges 6:15, 15“Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.”  

Like Gideon, many among us hesitate to lead because of how we perceive ourselves. Yet, we observe that Gideon was victorious against the Midianites not because of his ability or strength but because God gave the Midians into his hands.

1. Save

 22 The Israelites said to Gideon, “Rule over us—you, your son and your grandson—because you have saved us from the hand of Midian.” 23 But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.” 

The Israelites respected Gideon after he saved them from their enemies. They appreciated their freedom from the oppression of Midians. They did not want to struggle and fear for their life again. They did whatever it cost to never experience oppression again. They wanted Gideon as their ruler and lead them if ever invaders attack again.

Before the battle started, Gideon may have been oppressed not just by invaders but by his own people, clan, or tribe.  Yet, Gideon didn’t take advantage of that situation to prevent future oppression when they ask him to be their ruler. It would have been an opportunity for his family to be distinguished or respected among the Israelites.

Oppression not from enemies but among fellow countrymen is no isolated case. In the Philippines, residents from bigger cities make fun of people from the countryside. In Canada, some Canadians discriminate other Canadians from other ethnic groups. People with minority backgrounds suffer some sort of racism and prejudice. And, believers hesitate to take leadership roles because of such discrimination encounter.

Anyways, Gideon did the right move when he pointed them to the Lord as their ruler. He knew that it was not by his strength or ability that they defeated their enemies. They were freed from their enemies because of the mighty power of God.

Listen: We claim that God has freed us from our worst enemy, sinful nature. Let us imitate Gideon. How? Let the Lord be the ruler who should reign in our hearts. Christ, our Lord freed us from the oppression and slavery of sin. He is the worthy Ruler of our life. To accept the call to lead and use our spiritual gift is to allow Christ to reign in us.

Interestingly, God empowered Gideon to save the Israelites but he also allowed him to be snared by the flattering adulation of his people. Praise from people is a snare.

2. Snare

24 And he said, “I do have one request, that each of you give me an earring from your share of the plunder.” 25 They answered, “We’ll be glad to give them.” So they spread out a garment, and each of them threw a ring from his plunder onto it. 26 The weight of the gold rings he asked for came to 1700 shekels (20kg), not counting the ornaments, the pendants and the purple garments worn by the kings of Midian or the chains that were on their camels’ necks. 27 Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family.

A snare is a device for trapping birds or small animals. It is a flexible loop or noose that is drawn tight around a prey suddenly. To snare is to catch or to trap with a snare or to capture by trickery unaware victims. It is an entrapment, deception to capture innocent or naïve victims.

Gideon may have been attracted or tempted to have a little more wealth that may earn him and his family better regard or approval from his clan or tribe. He may have thought of just having a lifestyle that may raise his social status a little higher. Before he killed them, Gideon asked the Midianite kings in Judges 8:18, 18 “What kind of men did you kill at Tabor?” “Men like you,” they answered, “each one with the bearing of a prince.” 19 Gideon replied, “Those were my brothers, the sons of my own mother. 

Gideon’s brothers looked like princes to the Midianites. Perhaps, they had great fortune or wealthy. Yet, Gideon claimed that he was the least among his family. Gideon has servants but may not be as wealthy as his brothers. It’s not unusual for the rich to be aloof or exclude relatives who are less fortunate. Gideon experienced such malign.

Out of gratitude from Gideon’s heroism, the Israelites obliged and shared their plunder with him. He didn’t really need the gold for personal use because he made it into an ephod. He might have wanted to remind the Israelites that he was there to serve them and not to rule over them. Yet, his plan has backfired. 

The ephod became an idol, instead of just a reminder that God is their ruler.

Have you observed a similar behavior of the Israelites who worship the ephod that Gideon made? When believers testify that their material wealth is God’s blessings, others don’t want to worship the God who bless. They just want the material blessing.

Well, many churches hope to have the most elegant, majestic or stylish church building that money can buy if only they have much resources. Many would like to have the best choir or musical instrument. Why? To attract people! And, believers want to have the best of everything, the latest in the market. Not a bad thing, if you can afford it.

It says in 1 Timothy 6:9-10, 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Buy Boat

If you have much money, what gift would you like to buy for yourself? 

I like fishing. If I have much money, I would buy me the best boat I can afford and go fishing. If as a pastor, I can dream of having such luxury, would ordinary Christians be more modest and won’t dream of having some fun? Such snare or entrapment of material advancement was also a problem in the first century Christianity.

It says in Acts 5:1-4, 1Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 

3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

Why did they keep some money but brought the rest to the apostles? Did they pretend to be generous like the other believers but secretly desire to have higher social status than the rest? That’s the desire that became a snare to Gideon and his family.

 The Lord is not impressed with people who wish to flatter or deceive others. 

God cannot be deceived. God consistently observes the motive of the heart.

In Hebrews 13:5, 5Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

Long-lasting contentment comes from God. One may have much wealth but still not satisfied or cannot find time to worship God. Material wealth is important but it should not dictate our lifestyle or worship of God. Continue to serve God with your spiritual gift whether you become rich or not yet.

Learn from Gideon. He wished to have more gold when he asked the Israelites to share their plunder but it became problematic snare for him and his family. Serve God not because of material blessings but because you received spiritual gift from Him.

Accept God’s call to lead and use your spiritual gift. When we let Christ performs His lordship in us, we offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, and we become holy, set apart, and pleasing to Him—such is our true and proper worship acceptable God.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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