At The Global Leadership Summit, Mario Vega the Senior Pastor of Misión Cristiana Elim in El Salvador (a church with over 73,000 attendees) took us through 1 Samuel 15 to look at a biblical example of leading through tough decisions.
At this time, the people of the Middle East were transitioning to powerful monarchies. However, Israel remained tribal chiefdoms, and this fragmentation lead them to be vulnerable to their neighbors. Previously, they relied on God, but worry led them to decide they needed a king and a powerful army.
Saul’s First Slip
King Saul was a humble and unassuming person in his early years. Quickly endearing himself to Samuel the prophet. Samuel was extremely proud of Saul and his king, but on one occasion Saul deliberately disobeyed the decree of the Lord. He was greedy and stole cattle. When he was called out, he tried covering it up by saying it was an offering. God was not interested in sacrifice but obedience.
Just the Tip of the Iceberg
Because of this failure, God no longer viewed Saul as one certified to be King. Some may think that God was too hard for rejecting Saul over a single act of disobedience. But when a person engages in dishonest living, they reveal their lack of character. It was just the tip of the iceberg and revealed his selfish ambition. Saul’s lifestyle of disobedience after that showed that God had not been too harsh in rejecting Saul. He grew violent and abused his power. This lead Saul to mass murder of temple priests and even attempt to murder his own son. He pursued David with an obsession.
Those that allow themselves room for moral failure, open the door for further failure to come. Charisma and skills were not enough to keep Saul on the throne of Israel. Integrity of character was far more important. Saul had showed the world his lack of character. And it was very painful for Samuel to accept the fact that God had rejected Saul as king. He spent the entire night crying for Saul. His love for Saul ran deep, and he was deeply grieved that God had disqualified him. This brought Samuel to an ethical crossroads. Samuel would now have to choose between hiss love for God and his love for Saul. In other words, his loyalty to values and loyalty to his friendship.
The 4 phases of Handing Moral Failure of Leadership
Samuel’s pain was so deep that he couldn’t accept the truth. He couldn’t accept that Saul would no longer be king. Doing something that seemed so small caused him to lose everything. Samuel expected God to change his decision, but God’s decision was final. The sun went down and the anguish was uncontrollable. He was forced to confront the new reality, entering the second phase of this difficult proceeds – depression
His love for Saul couldn’t blind him to the reality. Saul was not who he thought he was. He lacked a healthy fear of God, and the evidence was undeniable. There was no turning back. This daunting reality lead him to a deep, deep depression. Samuel walked the dark hours of the night searching for an alternative, one that would not involve firing Saul. However, there were no other options. It was clear that Saul would no longer be King. At about midnight, Samuel entered into the 3rd phase of this difficult decision making process – acceptance.
Samuel finally accepted that Saul would no longer be king. This made him feel alone and desolate. If Saul would no longer be King, then who would be? If Samuel was God’s prophet, then it would be his responsibility to anoint the other. An action that would certainly alienate his good friend Saul. Was this a contradiction? Wasn’t he the one that publicly appointed Saul in the first place? The light of the new day found Samuel still aching with new pain. This process would not be complete until he would hear the voice of God saying, “How long will you grieve over Saul as I have rejected him as the king of Israel. Fill your horn with oil and [go].”
It was time to go appoint a new King. It was not the time to look at the past but the future. The plans of God were still on course. It was time for action. The heart finds comfort with every new step of integrity. So Samuel went into action. He filled up his horn with oil. Dried his last tears. Moved forward to appoint a new king of Israel.
Leaders are defined by the ongoing decisions they make. And leadership rises and falls on the decision that are being made.
Are you facing a difficult decision at this moment?
Are you allowing your personal bias to influence your decision?
Maybe you are going through your own dark night of grieving. It is difficult when you have to decide over people’s lives. Theses are decisions that you cannot delegate to any other person. Give yourself permission to grieve, hurt, cry, and walk through depression. All of this is normal. After all you are a human.
But never give yourself permission to avoid doing what is right. And don’t give yourself permission to stay in the valley of depression. Lay your burden with God. Don’t stay stuck in your grieving. Look to the heavens, God has more in store with you. This is the best choice for everyone involved. It is the right decision for you as well. You will never regret doing what is just and walking in integrity. When the years pass by, they will reveal justice and integrity in your action.
In light of these thoughts, be courageous, be strong, live with integrity. The Lord is with you.