Saturday, September 29, 2012

1 Kings 1: Succession Struggles

1 Kings 1:5-8 Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, "I will be king." So he got chariots and horses ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never interfered with him by asking, "Why do you behave as you do?" He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.) Adonijah conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei and Rei and David's special guard did not join Adonijah.
1 Kings 1:29-31 The king then took an oath: "As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, I will surely carry out today what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place." Then Bathsheba bowed low with her face to the ground and, kneeling before the king, said, "May my lord King David live forever!" 

1 Kings begins with David in his final days -- an aged man who could not keep himself warm because his physical body was deteriorating and largely confined to his bed. An unexpected crisis looms when Adonijah appointed himself as king to succeed David. However, Adonijah's plan was crushed when David was informed about this illegal succession plan and he appointed Solomon instead as his successor.

My reflections on this chapter on succession:
  • Success in Leadership is measured by Succession: The ultimate role of leadership is raising up successors who could continue our work when it's time for us to go. Especially in Singapore, the Baby Boomers leadership are all approaching their 60's. It's time to change our leadership style from control to empowerment. But successors do not just appear and have to be identified and deliberately coached and groomed to take over our roles. Otherwise, like David, we will have a succession problem when it is really time to step aside due to old age. In churches with an eldership system, the elders must always be deliberating making themselves unnecessary by training and coaching the next generation of leaders and not sit on the church board until they become incoherent. 
  • Leadership is Spirit-Anointed, not Self-Appointed: In some way, I appreciate the Roman Catholic concept of apostolic succession--not that I think it's biblical but because it has ensured the continuity of the Roman Catholic Church over the last 1,500 years. Spiritual leadership has to be Spirit-anointed, not self-appointed. Adonijah's mistake was to think that succession is a matter of Law - since he was the eldest, he was automatically next in line for the throne. However, David did not operate under the Law, but under the Lord--and he had sworn by the Lord that Solomon would be his successor. Those who have a leadership calling should not appoint themselves nor promote themselves as leaders (the sin of Absalom & Adonijah, handsome though they were), because it's nothing to do with popularity but with power from on high. If we are not divinely anointed, we will lack the spiritual authority to lead.
If we feel a call to leadership, learn to cultivate humility like David and faithfulness in small things. David was a shepherd of his father's flock before he was appointed shepherd of God's Flock (Israel). We must be faithful in little so that we can be faithful in much.

Father, deliver us from the sins of self-promotion and self-appointment. May we learn to walk by Your Spirit daily, so that we may always be Spirit-filled and Spirit-directed in whatever tasks You have appointed us to do today. Amen.

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