A real leader serves others rather than being served.

They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” – 1 Kings 12:7

Rehoboam reigned as king over all Israel upon the death of his father, Solomon. Solomon had been harsh with the people because of the exacting toll supplying his royal demands put on the people. The people came to Rehoboam looking for renewed leadership and an easing of the burden put on them by the king. Solomon’s previous advisers told Rehoboam to ease up and serve the people, who would then serve him gladly. However, Rehoboam refused their counsel and heeded the words of his advisers, who were his age and had said to make the conditions ever more austere. Little did anyone know that the LORD had set this chain of events into action to split the kingdom to fulfill His Word spoken to Solomon for his sins.

Personally there is a great message in the words of Solomon’s royal viziers. They advised Rehoboam to serve the people and give them a favorable word in regards to easing their burden. Their reasoning was that the king would have a favorable following from the people IF he served them rather than them serving him. Jesus would later expound upon this Godly principle and declare its value to the apostle and hence us. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your SERVANT and to be first must be your SLAVE – just as the Son of Man DID NOT COME TO BE SERVED BUT TO SERVE [emphasis added]” (Matt: 20:26-27, Mark 10:43-44).

Jesus knew the value of serving the people whereas Rehoboam did not. Now, in fairness to the former king, he was fulfilling prophecy from God although his heart was full of evil. He had learned nothing from his grandpa’s good example of servant leadership and must have taken copious notes from his dad’s bad example. This young king thought he knew better than everyone else and trusted in the know-it-all attitudes and disrespect of his fellow youth. He did not respect his elders and their vast storehouse of knowledge they had learned serving in his dad’s administration. His ego, much like his dad’s, fed off the praise and worship he strove for as being king. He did not humble himself and serve God’s people but rather demanded their allegiance and love.

You see, to be a real leader, one must learn the valuable lesson Jesus demonstrated to us all in the serving of the Pesach Seder and the washing of the apostle’s feet. Jesus did not have to come to earth to be served; He had angels at His beck and call in heaven for eternity. He is the King of kings! He is the Master! We wait upon Him, but He chose to serve us in order to teach us love, grace, mercy, compassion, and how to demonstrate our love and worship of God in putting others before ourselves. We can demand rights and allegiance of those under us and around us, but who wants to be loyal to a dictator? Where is the freedom of choice that God has given us all in that scenario? It doesn’t exist. For that reason God didn’t make us worship Him, or we would be nothing more than automatons. God wants us to love Him out of desire not coercion.

So, the big question is, “Are you being served or serving others?” If you’re a parent, are you demanding obedience from your children or rather demonstrating obedience to God before them by serving them ahead of yourself? If you’re a boss at work, do your employees have to “tow the line” in submission to your will or instead have the freedom to express concerns and ideas to you with the hope of making the office a better place to work? What kind of leader are you? If you’re discipling new believers, do they have to bow to you or rather feel wanted and needed and can openly ask questions and raise concerns as they live out their Godly walk under your tutelage?

Jesus gave us the perfect example of servant leadership while Rehoboam demonstrated the exact opposite. Do you want people who willingly choose to heed your words as they did Jesus, or do you want a mob crowd that will rebel and overthrow your leadership? The choice is yours to make. I like to put it this way, “A real leader leads by serving those one leads.” Think about it.

Father, as a veteran of the Armed Forces, I am fully aware of different leadership styles. Most of them are interesting in that arena because the leaders demand respect and allegiance rather than take the time to see things from subordinate points of view. They view serving their troops as a sign of weakness; however, there are those who learn this Godly principle of serving others in order to be the best leader. Often I heard these men say, ‘Take care of your troops, and they will take care of you.” This statement stuck with me for the rest of my days. It is a rewording of Your teaching, but it is true. When my earthly leaders took care of me, I didn’t hesitate to ensure that all they gave me to do was done correctly and efficiently and timely. Now that You have placed me into positions of leadership within Your body, I take even greater care to ensure that those I lead I serve. I desire to follow Your example and to emulate Your teachings. Help me to be the best servant leader possible. Solomon may have been the “wisest” person to live, but please allow me to be the greatest servant leader to live outside of You, Jesus. I humble myself that You may raise me up in do time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.