There is a growing quest for meaning in life and the workplace. In connecting with their spirituality, more and more leaders are discovering that the function and position of leadership must be guided by a higher purpose that sets the compass for conduct and lifestyle. This was the note on which we ended the first part of this series. Today, we continue the lessons every leader could learn from the experience of David and his followers in Ziklag as narrated in 1 Samuel 30 of the Holy Bible.
Some years ago, my family and I returned from a night vigil only to discover that my house had been burgled. The burglars had ample time to operate with enough time to cart away all electronics and valuable items including cash. On our return to the house and discovering what had happened, I had to go and make a report at the police station. On getting there, the police had no paper for me to write a statement. So I had to part with the last twenty Naira in my pocket to buy a sheet of paper from one of the police men on duty! That is a story for another day. I went back to the house and lay on the carpet to try and get some sleep. Then I heard a knock on the door. It was a couple that had come to see me. I had met the husband only once when he was introduced to me by someone I had taught in Mission school. The man had to reintroduce himself to me because I had forgotten his face. I ushered them to a seat and informed them of our sordid experience as evidenced by the bareness of our living room. I might as well have been speaking to stones!
While I was wondering how they knew where I lived since it was a long way out of town, the man began what seemed to me a lamentation about how their landlord was about ejecting them because they had not been able to come up with their rent. That was why they had come to see me. Within me, I was livid with rage. Even if they were blind, were they deaf? That was when it dawned on me that they had not been listening to anything I said!
I had just lost a lot of cash and it was convenient to tell them that there wasn’t much that I could do. But I heard a gentle nudge in my spirit to do something to help them in spite of my loss. So I brought out my cheque book and wrote out a cheque. It was one of the toughest things I ever had to do up till that time. I learnt a lesson from that experience that I saw play out in David’s response to his dilemma. Great leaders never neglect to show acts of kindness even in the midst of their pain!
While David and his men went in pursuit of the Amalekites, they came across an Egyptian who was servant to a commander of the Amalekite army. He was abandoned by the roadside to die because he had fallen sick and his master therefore felt that he would become a liability. When David saw him, he gave him food that literally nursed him back to life. One good turn they say, deserves another. This abandoned Egyptian led David’s army to the camp of the Amalekites!
Which leads to another lesson. Leaders must be careful how they treat their team members. A great leader never treats anyone on his team as insignificant or dispensable. Leaders are to empower their followers and not abandon them to their problems. The team member you treat nonchalantly could eventually become your nemesis. The Egyptian was only said to be sick. In reality, it appears that the sickness was probably exhaustion due to the stress of work and the ceaseless warfare his boss had exposed him to, or even hunger! David didn’t give him medicine. He only gave him FOOD and he became strong!
David might never have discovered the Amalekites’ hideout without the Egyptian’s help. Sometimes, the people that we consider to be weak may, if we don’t build them up to be strong, become the weakest link in our sustainability chain. It has been said that no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. It is easy to shift loyalty when a follower has a feeling that his leader is the ‘use and dump’ type. No one likes to feel used or abused. In the same vein, everyone responds positively to a demonstration of genuine concern. Love is an ice-breaker any day when it can reach out even to the undeserving.
When followers err or go out of order, restoration must be more important to the leader than recriminations. This is because in the leader-follower dynamics, PURPOSE is more important than the PROCESS. It is noteworthy that David went against the Amalekites with the same soldiers that had mutinied earlier. Note that David never once reprimanded them for that action. He simply showed leadership that sought a way out. Every leader who seeks relevance must know that a leader is only worthy of being called one because he has followers who continue to believe in his leadership. Without anyone following him, a leader is as good as taking a walk.
Jesus had twelve disciples. One of them betrayed him. One of them denied him. When push came to shove ALL of them forsook Him and fled. He went to cross ALONE! After His resurrection, He did not choose to make Himself known to any other group except this same group, less Judas who had committed suicide before Jesus resurrected. Peter was restored to a place of prominence in the early church. Ditto the other disciples who eventually went ahead to become apostles. The same men who denied and abandoned Him became His witnesses and many of them were martyred and they had no qualms about dying for what they believed. Imagine what would have happened if Jesus had been more focussed on rebuking them than He was on them being empowered to fulfill their assigned purpose…continued.
Remember, the sky is not your limit, God is!