Unkind Leadership: Why Rehoboam was a fool
Written by Brian Jennings, Posted in Your Church
The great King Solomon was dead, and his son was new to the throne. Immediately, the people came to him, and begged him to lighten the oppressive load that was upon them. Life was unmanageable. Lives were at risk. The forced labor demanded by the government could not continue.
II Chronicles 10 tells us that King Rehoboam told them that he would consider their request, and return to them with an answer in three days.
Good leadership move: Take some time before making important decisions.
Rehoboam was wise to this. It was also good that he told them when he would make his decision. This indicates that he heard them. Ever made an important request, only to have the person say, “I’ll get back with you,” which you translate, “I’ll forget about it in 5 minutes?”
Rehoboam then seeks the input of the wise, experienced advisors to his father. They advise him, “Lighten the load, and then the people will always serve you.”
Good leadership move: Receive input from those who have been around the block before.
Being experienced does not guarantee that one will give the correct advice, but it sure can help, and it’s foolish to ignore those with experience.
After receiving their advice, he immediately rejects it, even before hearing other advice.
Bad leadership move: Make a decision before you’ve received all of the needed input.
It suddenly becomes very clear that he is not on a quest for wisdom; he just wants to find someone to agree with him. He didn’t have to look far.
He listens to his posse (really, this is a good word for them – they are his chums who grew up with him). They advise, “Tell them that your little finger is thicker than your father’s waist; I will be harsher; he scourged you with whips; I will do so with scorpions.”
Wow, not what you want to hear from your king – trash talk.
Bad leadership move: Lead with intimidation.
I am horrified at how often I hear friends tell of how their boss or leader resort to intimidation. It seems to be the norm, but it’s perceived beauty is fleeting. Sure, one may get what they want temporarily, if they lead this way. It may even work for them for a long time, but at what cost? How loyal are their followers? How invested are they? Are they lifted to their greatest heights or beat down? What will become of future generations? These are questions that need to be considered.
The Israelites cried out. They felt abandoned. The country was no longer their country. They felt like foreigners in a strange land. And Rehoboam barely lived to see another day. He escaped the rebellion, but his chief of forced labor was not so lucky. They stoned him to death. In some ways, he was simply the ugly face of the King’s intimidation.
Bad leadership move: Have a “Chief of Forced Labor” on your staff.
I can hear Jeff Foxworthy saying, “If you have Chief of Forced Labor, you might be a bad leader.”
But don’t get me wrong, kind leadership does not equal passive leadership.
Jesus demonstrated kind leadership. He was often very firm. He sometimes rebuked others. He was not a “push-over.” He set the bar unbelievably high. But he did all of this with kindness. And his followers were willing to die for him. And they still are today.
If you care about your family, your church, your business, your team, or your organization, lead with kindness. It’s a command, and the bi-product is that it will lift those around you to new heights. They will be much more apt to invest heavily, invent, create, and stand loyally with you. And you will look around one day to see healthy, loving, flourishing people who love to be around you. And you will leave a Godly legacy for those who follow you.
Lead with kindness.
Note: If you would like the handout to a leadership talk that I gave on this subject, e-mail me at email@example.com.