Editor’s Note: The AMI devotionals from June 29-July 3 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 King 12:3-7: Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. 2 And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. 3 And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, 4 “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” 5 He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. 6 Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?”
The oft-repeated saying, “He who thinketh he leadeth and has no one following him is only taking a walk,” is attributed to John Maxwell, the author of several books on leadership, such as Developing the Leader within You and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. His unmistakable assumption: a leader is the one who leads those who follow or serve him and his vision.
However, the advice given to King Rehoboam by those elders who had served his father Solomon, was antithetical to that thesis: “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever” (v.7). What a revolutionary concept— particularly in view of the fact that Israel was monarchy in which the kings held absolute power over everything!
In effect, the elders inverted Maxwell’s saying: “He who thinks he’s only taking a walk but has people following him, is leading.” Their advice was for Rehoboam to think less about leading but more on serving the people who, upon seeing his example, would then gladly follow him. It’s amazing that the concept of servant leadership, the one that Christ expounded on the night of his betrayal—“I have set you an example that you should de as I have done for you” (Jn. 13:15)—was ably articulated by the ancients operating under monarchy.
In response, Rehoboam, showing that he was more interested in being a leader than leading (through serving), “rejected the advice” (v.8). Opting to follow a different advice given by those “young men who had grown up with him” (v.10), the king said to the people, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions” (v.14). This didn’t end well: the nation of Israel was now irreparably divided.
How is your leadership at work, home or church? Don’t be like this elder whose opening remark to the youths at an informal meeting was, “Be quiet, I need respect right now.” Instead, serve the people first. Before telling others what to do, do it yourself. Some may take advantage of it, but others may want to imitate you. Lead by examples of servanthood.
Dear Jesus, how often I forget that You came to serve, not to be served. On the contrary, how often I seek to lead by words but rarely by my actions. Lord, please change me so that my lifestyle truly reflects the One who gave “his life as a ransom for many.” Thank You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Revelation 19
Lunch Break Study
Read Matt. 20:20-8: Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Question to Consider
- What do you think Mrs. Zebedee was thinking while making the request on her sons’ behalf?
- Why do you think the rest of the disciples were upset upon finding out this request?
- What is the unmistakable message of Jesus to his men? What about to you?
- Like most mothers, she thought the world of her sons, which naturally led her to believe that John and James were best qualified for the top cabinet position in what she believed was going to be the restored and autonomous kingdom of Israel.
- They were probably indignant for two reasons: first, feeling slighted that those three thought that they were somehow better than the rest; two, John and James might have gotten ahead of them in being considered for the top position.
- Jesus’ message: “My kingdom, because it isn’t like that of the world, doesn’t operate by the same principles. The people of the world lead by power and authority; but in my kingdom, those who seek to lead do so through yielding, serving and self-sacrifice.
Every day, we are being confronted by many situations that call for leadership—including seeing trash on the side of road. What sort of situations did you face today? How did you respond? Did you heed to the advice of the “elders” or the “young men”? Wrap up this day through reflecting on the example set for us by Jesus Christ. Ask the Lord to help you to emulate him daily.