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About Church Leadership - Poor Leaders

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Poor Leaders

What qualities make for a poor leader? It may seem a strange question; why study poor leaders? But in looking at the qualities of poor leadership, we find in their antithesis the qualities of good leadership. The Bible is filled with examples of leaders, good and bad, and in studying them, we may find help in producing leaders in the future who can provide the type of guidance and instruction which all churches need.

The "classic" poor leader has to be King Saul, for his leadership was so poor that his kingdom, and therefore his legacy among God's people, was stripped from him. Let us examine some of his more prominent errors.

A poor leader mistakes doing what is popular for leadership. When Saul had an opportunity to accomplish something great for God (the destruction of the Amalekites), he failed miserably. Instead of leading God's people, he responded as many leaders have done, and continue to do: he did what he thought would make him popular. The children of Israel did not wish to obey God by destroying the Amalekites fully; instead they desired to keep what was pleasing to them among the spoils of their enemies (1 Sam. 15:7-9). Instead of standing up before the people and declaring, as Joshua had, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh. 24:15), Saul gave in to the wishes of the people. If ever there was a time in Saul's reign which presented an opportunity to lead, this was it, but Saul responded cowardly by doing what was popular.

A poor leader blames others for his mistakes. When confronted with his sin by the prophet Samuel, Saul had another opportunity to lead by example, and again, he failed. In answer to Samuel's question concerning the bleating of sheep and lowing of oxen, Saul blamed his followers, "They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and oxen . . ." (1 Sam. 15:15, emphasis added). Given a further opportunity, he again blames the people, "I did obey . . . But the people took some of the spoil . . ." (vv. 20-21, emphasis added). Rather than admit his wrongdoing, which could have started him on a road to renewal and redemption, Saul chooses to blame those he should have been leading. When a leader does this, he is useless as a leader. Those who are blamed will hate him for his weakness, and those all who hear his excuse will question his ability to lead.

A poor leader attacks those who seek to do right. When a leader is bad, he cannot abide those who are good, and the case of Saul is no different. Having learned that his kingdom is to be taken away, Saul turns against a man of God, David. Despite David's loyalty to God's anointed (see 1 Sam. 24:6; 2 Sam. 1:11-16), Saul held David and his prospering at God's hand in contempt (1 Sam. 18:10-16). Several times Saul sought to kill David, and David's ability to do right and prosper kindled a burning rage the miserable King. Many leaders still hold in contempt those who strive to do right.

A poor leader seeks counsel in evil places. Nothing is more critical to a leader than the place he turns for counsel in time of trouble. For Saul, this is another area of failure. Near the end of his reign, when Samuel, the man of God, is long since gone, Saul needs help and advice as he prepares for battle (1 Sam. 28). Fearful of the Philistines and desperate for some kind of help, Saul visits a medium to seek spiritual advice (vv. 7-14). This points out Saul's inability to even recognize good advice. Any number of good leaders have been brought down by bad advice. Years later, Solomon's son, Rehoboam, would lose most of his kingdom for the same reason (1 Kings 12).

A poor leader may or may not be guilty of all of these bad qualities, but any of them can bring his leadership crashing to an end. The church of our Lord needs good leaders, and the qualities which make for bad ones must be avoided. The examples of old are there for us to learn (Rom. 15:4), and that includes these bad leaders. If we seek to become good leaders, we must not make the mistakes and commit the sins of men like Saul and Rehoboam.



Last Updated ( Friday, 21 January 2011 09:12 )