Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Judges 8: People Follow Leaders who Believe in Them

Judg 8:1-3 Now the Ephraimites asked Gideon, "Why have you treated us like this? Why didn't you call us when you went to fight Midian?" And they criticized him sharply. But he answered them, "What have I accomplished compared to you? Aren't the gleanings of Ephraim's grapes better than the full grape harvest of Abiezer? God gave Oreb and Zeeb, the Midianite leaders, into your hands. What was I able to do compared to you?" At this, their resentment against him subsided. 

Gideon's 300 has just blown their trumpets and broke the jars in their hands, causing confusion and self-slaughter in the camp of Midianites. When the Midianites were fleeing toward Beth Shittah, Gideon called for the nearby tribes of Napthali, Asher & Manasseh for reinforcements to pursue the Midianites. Last, but not least, he also called for reinforcements from the tribe of Ephraim when the main battles against the Midianites were drawing to a close. The Ephraimites captured the Midianite kings Oreb & Zeeb and killed them. But they were miffed and criticized Gideon for calling them out so late in the battle plan. Here is the quirkiness of human nature that all leaders have to dealt with: instead of celebrating God's victory over their enemies, they focused on themselves and their fragile egos. But Gideon exercised great leadership by not responding to their anger but rather set about to heal their bruised egos by affirming the critical importance of their contribution in the whole battle strategy. Instead of feeling side-lined, the Ephraimites felt important -- and that mollified them.

Leadership is a skill: and one of them is the ability to make the followers feel significant. The old Christian leadership school emphasizes calling people to repentance (not wrong in itself) but the spirit is often negative. Instead of urging people to give up their small ambitions to pursue God's greater Kingdom ambition, the call for repentance become an occasion to rebuke and expose the inadequacies and failures of the followers. People seldom respond to leaders who constantly focus on their weaknesses. But people will follow any leader who will focus on their strengths and believe that God can and will do great things through them.

Father, what a privilege to be a servant-leader in Your Kingdom. It's a joy to lead people from victory to victory and see them grow in their faith in You and their confidence in their own giftedness. Amen.

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