I have been working with Ken and Cally over the past year and a half to build a home group ministry for St. Paul’s. Members have come and gone and we are about four right now. We meet every Tuesday (the members’ idea, not mine, but I certainly don’t mind) for an hour and a half. We show up, talk and catch up with one another for about 1/2 an hour (or more depending on the need), do the “In the Early Evening” (pg 139 BCP) to bring us into a spiritual frame of mind, and then read through a couple chapters of Scripture. We think, discuss, and then apply what we’ve read to life – just finished Luke.
Tonight, we are going to start reading through a little book that I found way back in the mid-80’s while I was working in campus ministry after my bacheloriate experience. This book changed my whole perspective of leadership, follower-ship, and brokenness. It is entitled, “A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness,” by Gene Edwards. It is short, easy to read, and in my opinion quite profound. The book focused on the Biblical King David and how David responds to his son Absolam and King Saul.
Here is chapter 4:
The mad king [Saul] saw David as a threat to the king’s kingdom. The king did not understand, it seems, that God should be left to decide what kingdoms survive which threats. Not knowing this, Saul did what all mad kings do. He threw spears at David. He could. He was king. Kings can do things like that. Kings claim the right to throw spears. Everyone knows very, very well. How do they know? Because the king has told them so – many, many times.
It is possible that this mad king was the true king, even the Lord’s anointed?
What about your king? Is he the Lord’s anointed? Maybe he is. Maybe he isn’t. No one can ever really know for sure. Men say they are sure. Even certain. But they are not. They do not know. God knows. But He will not tell.
If your king is truly the Lord’s anointed, and if he also throws spears, then there are some things you can know, and know for sure:
Your king is quite mad.
And he is a king after the order of King Saul.
(Edwards, pp 11-12)
We all have our own “kings!” For example, bosses, presidents, police chiefs, coaches, bishops, pastors, presiding bishops and primates, and any number of other “leaders.”
Are our “leaders” people we consider worthy of following? Does it really matter whether we consider them worthy or not? How do we know whether s/he really is or is not worthy?
A good leader knows how to be a good follower. A good follower can, if thrust into such a position, be a capable leader. How do we respond to our leaders? Do we treat others (whether our leaders or those that follow us) the way we want to be treated (as a leader or follower)? Are we too quick to judge or are we patient enough to let things play out? Are we quick to rebel? Are we quick to put-down?
All we tend to do is repudiate and malign and condemn our leaders – our presidents, our priests, our bishops, our bosses. In the present troubles we face, why do we find it necessary to believe that we really know better? How do we, particularly spiritual leaders, how do we know that we know better then they? Really? Do we honestly believe we know the mind of God concerning God’s plans for us, for our leaders, for our underlings?
We think our leaders are mad, or at least incompetent, or perhaps heretics, and of course we can do better. Sometimes this is true, but within the Church who is the one who moves and guides and places in positions of leadership this or that person (or perhaps one of us)? God does. Do we believe that? Are we sure we know the mind of God? Really? All the time? Isn’t that being just a bit arrogant and prideful? Isn’t that being just a little bit mad? Maybe we are the mad-king (or at least a stupid follower with great ambition – perhaps an Absolam!).
Too many of us want power and will do whatever is necessary to get it – even if just a little bit. We are wonderful arm-chair Vice-Presidents, party-bosses, Senior Wardens, priests, Archbishops, you name it. We get all uppity when we think we’re being put upon. We get all insecure when our little kingdom is challenged or when someone perhaps more talented or more popular or a little better looking then us shows up and we end up doing very mad things. What if we just let things happen – grow in wisdom and the ability to rightly discern as we grow in brokenness?
Read this book. If you are like me, it will challenge and perhaps change your concepts of good leadership and good follower-ship. Tonight, we are reading up through page 25 (the first third of the book). The background reading can be found in First Samuel chapters 8-20.