Can a King be a servant?
When Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king of Israel, after God had promised to divide the kingdom due to Solomon’s idol worship, he was faced with an important decision. How should he rule his people? His father began humbly asking God for wisdom to rule the people, but ended up in all kinds of pride, self-centered catering to his every whim and ultimately turning away from God, (though he did come to repentance at the end of his life). Rehoboam also starts out with some wisdom, he asks for advice. First he asks the older counselors who sat under his father. We can see their reply in I Kings:
I Kings 12:7 (NASB), “Then they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to this people today, and will serve them and grant them their petition, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”
Unfortunately that is the end of his wisdom in seeking counsel. Next, he goes to the young men he had grown up with. Just reading their answer makes me cringe:
I Kings 12:10-11 )NASB), “The young men who grew up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus you shall say to this people who spoke to you, saying, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, now you make it lighter for us!’ But you shall speak to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! ‘Whereas my father loaded you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’”
How do you follow in the footsteps of the wisest, richest man ever? According to his son, you rule the people with an iron fist, in their face, and demand total submission. Sounds like a good plan, right? The Israelites cried out and turned against the house of David. From that day on, the kingdom was divided between Judah and Israel, two kingdoms and two kings. You can continue reading in I Kings and in II Chronicles if you want to see how that all ends.
My point is that we cannot lead by force! Jesus never did. He led by example. He never demanded that people follow him. I can just picture Him with a big smile on His face and a friendly hand on Matthew’s shoulder saying, “have you had your fill of this mundane life, how about walking away from collecting taxes and come with me?” or what about Peter and Andrew, James and John, same smile, same call from a friend, “put down those nets, and lets go catch some souls!”
Jesus is a King, He serves. Why? Because that’s where The Father’s heart is, helping people. God’s desire is that our lives are better. So, each one of us are called to be servants. Jesus repeatedly talked to His disciples about being servants and serving others. When the multitude was hungry and the disciples wanted to send them away, Jesus told them to feed them. At one time, after hearing them argue about who was the greatest, He said, “Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else.” (Mark 9:35).
We all lead. At least we are supposed to. We might not all have a leadership position at work or at church, but we are parents, we have friends and family, we are part of a community. How are you leading? Our Senior Pastor always says, “Leaders must go there first. Leaders must do it first.” That sounds pretty simple. If we want our community to be more loving, friendlier, then we need to be more loving and friendly. If we want our church to be debt free, we have to give our money. If we want our co-employees to stop talking like they live in a gutter, watch what you say.
We don’t have to be a walking bible to witness and change our atmosphere; we just have to live right. Living like the world never got a single person saved. Our faith during a hard time, our expecting good when the world expects the worse, or support and prayers during someone else’s crisis, all show a relationship with a Savior. How we act matters.
If you are in a leadership position, don’t follow the advice of the young men Rehoboam grew up with! Don’t lead like his father, Solomon, who only cared about his chariots, his palaces, his riches, his pleasure, and his foreign wives.
Look again at Jesus. Why do we commit to follow and serve Him forever? Because, He first served us. He treated us kindly; He showed us mercy, and most of all He gave up His life for us.
When is it right for a king to rule with force? When the people rebel. There will come a day when the King of Kings will come in His power and glory to show Himself as The King to the whole rebellious and hard hearted world.
Revelation 19:11-16 (KJB), “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”
I for one, want to know Him as the King who serves those He loves. The Mighty Warrior King from the book of Revelations is the King who protects and defends me. I will never have to be on the other side of His righteous anger! Praise God!
As leaders, there may be a time to correct and discipline, and even a time to cut loose. However, it’s never our place to try and take the place of God. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords, He is the One to carry out punishment. As I have said so many times before, we would mess it up. Leave that to God and lead with the motivation of building The Kingdom, not your kingdom. Have a servants heart, the heart of God, and those who follow your lead, will serve The King forever.
After all, isn’t that ultimately where we are leading…to The Father?