Solomon goes to work on the temple. He assigns over 150K people to the task. This is one big project. Can you imagine the enormity of it? I struggle to get my arms around just what it is he is trying to do here. The numbers are huge. Chapter 2 lists the food just for the lumberjacks “130,000 bushels of wheat, 120,000 gallons of wine, 120,000 gallons of olive oil”. Guys that is a lot of pancakes and wine. And these are workers he is feeding, not party animals. It really puts into perspective the leadership that was required of David and now Solomon in leading their kingdom. A whole lot of people with no real tools to use to lead except communication and delegation. We could learn much. I am impressed with how Solomon approaches the task at hand: “who am I to think I can build a house adequate for God…. I need your help”. Solomon knows he is up against a big chore. And he expresses humility here – he doesn’t come off as being able to just handle it all himself. He knows he needs help and humbly asks for it. Wise man. Leadership that is effective requires humility guys. When we get to thinking we can do it alone – that is when we fall flat on our faces. We have to recognize that God alone is our enabler and in order to be a leader we need followers. People follow humble servant leaders – not dictators who don’t care about them. Solomon was the wisest and most powerful man in the world. Yet he approached people with a simple message – I can’t do this alone and I need your help. Seem like a man of weakness? Think again – this is a man of wisdom who knows how to keep God in His throne and exercise his role as one who leads by example. May we all do that as we lead at home or wherever….
Archive for October, 2007
Today I read from 2 Chronicles 1. Solomon “took a firm grip on the reins of his Kingdom”. Sounds like a control issue?? Not necessarily but what scripture says next caught my eye: “God was with him and gave him much help”. Is that how people describe your leadership? Do they see that God is with you and gives you help? Or do they think it is just Jeff or Phil or Mitch or Steve doing this on your own? Where does God fit on your leadership team? Is He the center and the One from whom all direction comes? Or is He just the safety valve for when things go south? God desires to be the center of the team – the leader of the pack – the guiding light for all we do. Solomon follows in his father’s footsteps as he does some vision casting: “Solomon addressed all Israel”. We just saw David do this a few chapters back. Communication and vision casting is so important for us to be effective as leaders. We have to let people know. It was no simple task in those days – no technology to make it simple and effective. But both father and son see it important here so they both addressed all the people. God comes to Solomon and offers to give him something he asks for. You know the story – Solomon asks for “wisdom and knowledge as I come and go among this people”. He didn’t “grasp for money, wealth, fame and the doom of your enemies, or even a long life”. God was impressed with the ask. “Because of this, you get what you asked for”. God gives it to him. Seems related to the motives here doesn’t it. Solomon didn’t ask for his own good, but for the good of leading his people. God was pleased and gave all he asked for. Following the vision casting, worship and interaction with God – scripture then tells us “Solomon left the worship center….and set to work as king of Israel”. He had the priorities in order. Get the communication in place – with the people and more importantly with God – then start leading. Solomon was the wisest man to ever live. We can learn much from him here….
David continues in 1 Chronicles 29 with some additional thoughts on giving. I love what he says in verse 14: “But me – who am I, and who are these my people, that we should presume to be giving something to you? Everything comes from you; all we’re doing is giving back what we’ve been given from your generous hand”. Guys – here is a truth that we need to come to grips with. It is all God’s. ALL of it. Sometimes I tend to start thinking that some of what has happened in my life is because of me and the results are mine. WRONG. It is all because of God’s blessing and the results never were mine. “It all came from You” is how David says it. One of the challenging things that I have wrestled with the last week has been some thinking along these lines. I was reading some online info on a Christian businessman’s website about this very topic – our business as a believer is not ours – it is God’s. And we have a responsibility to use it for ministry, not just to provide for our family. When God puts us in a place of ownership or leadership, it is not for our benefit but for His kingdom. I need to use that which He has entrusted to make a difference for the Kingdom. Sometimes I lose sight of that. I even get close to thinking that some of the success is about something I did. That just is not the case. Any success, any impact, any results are all a gift from God. My role is as steward of what He has entrusted to me. I can’t lose sight of that. David had it clearly in the crosshairs here. The chapter ends with something very cool. David and the people had just given sacrificially to the building of the temple. They had worshipped and blessed God. Check this out: “The very next day….they sacrificed animals…offered worship…feasted all day…exuberant with joy”. These people gave til it hurt and then partied about it together. They recognized one of the most important principles of scripture – the principle of giving. We cannot out give God. Our cup will run over when we learn to give it ALL to Him because it is in fact His already. When we open our hands and let God have control of the things He has entrusted, we will be amazed at what He will do. This is a hard principle to learn and live by, but oh so important to experience God’s fullness in our lives. Give…and celebrate – that is God’s plan!
The first part of 1 Chronicles 29 deals with the funding of the building of the temple. David addresses the kingdom and sets the bar high. He tells them that he is “turning over my personal fortune” to the work of building the temple. David sets the standard. He leads the way – publicly. One of the things that sort of has always bothered me about giving is why the church thinks it needs to be so private. Is it because we are ashamed of how little people really give? Is that what bothers folks so much. David lays it all out here. He tells everyone exactly what he is giving and then challenges the rest to do the same. Check this out: “And now, how about you? Who among you is ready and willing to join in the giving?” It is much more effective to lead actually leading. David’s challenge is well received because he went first. That is what leadership means guys. We go first. We set the direction by actually leading them there. Sometimes leadership becomes just a let me tell you what you should do game. That is not effective nor is it leadership. Leadership means we do it – we set the example and walk others through it. That includes this area of giving. Was David successful? Here is what scripture tells us: “Ready and willing…they stepped forward and gave willingly”. Why? Was it because they were all wealthy and had lots to give. I think not. It was because the leader led them to this point by setting the example as well as the expectation. God has an expectation around giving. It is called tithing. The church is afraid to call people out who don’t step up and live their life the way God intends in this area of giving. That may be because those of us who lead are not willing to set that example. It worked for David. Not only were the coffers filled, but there was a “full of a sense of celebration” which is what true giving will always produce. Are you a giver in God’s true sense – a tither? If not, I think we all need to study what God tells us about this. Out of the abundance He provides we should at the very least give back what He requires.
David passes the torch to Solomon. But he does it with class. This chapter 27 of 1 Chronicles is a great example of vision casting. David “called together…everyone who held responsible positions”. Did you get that – EVERYONE. He is making sure all people know what the scoop is going to be. He assembles them to tell them about the passing of leadership and the project that is first and foremost on his mind – building the temple which has been assigned to his son Solomon. Listen to what he tells the people here: “And now, in this public place, all Israel looking on and God listening in, as GOD’s people, obey and study every last one of the commandments of your GOD so that you can make the most of living in this good land and pass it on intact to your children, insuring a good future”. This is some pretty sage advice for us too. We need to assemble those we lead and cast vision – give direction on what we expect and how we are going to lead them. It is one of our greatest responsibilities but we do it so little. So many excuses – too busy, people aren’t available, yada yada yada. David shows us how – get the people together and give them direction. Cast vision clearly and concisely. He also lays it out for Solomon too. “get to know well your father’s God; serve him with a whole heart and eager mind, for GOD examines every heart and sees through every motive. If you seek him, he’ll make sure you find him, but if you abandon him, he’ll leave you for good”. This is no cake walk for the kid. He has a big task to get done plus some pretty heavy expectations from dad. But the key is David shares it openly and completely. No unspoken expectations. It is all on the table. Both directives really are about relationship with the Father. That is the vision here. Build a relationship, stay close and serve Him. God will not leave you if you do and the future will be bright. That is pretty much our promise as well. We serve the same God. He loves us equally as much. We need to cast that vision to those we lead.
David is putting more structure into his Kingdom in 1 Chronicles 27. He has created a security force of 24,000 men who each serve for 1 month of the year. 1 month on, 11 months off. 288,000 men in his military each serving for 1 month at a time. Sort of reminds me of the change coming in our new generation. There was also a different commander each month with their group. Pretty darn good planning. No one was overburdened by serving, and each knew exactly what they were expected to do. David also sets up administrators to watch over the affairs of the tribes, people to manage the storage and warehouses where his stuff was kept, and also surrounded himself with wise counsellors who were tasked with helping raise his sons. David understood that to be successful as a leader he had to delegate. His kingdom was large, his responsibilities many, but he managed things by delegation. He was after all, a warrior, not really a sit in the throne and rule kind of leader. So he does the right thing and hands off the day to day stuff to others. Good wisdom here. Too often we want to do it all ourselves. That limits what God can do with our lives. We are so busy doing that we are not available to serve. What does God want you to delegate so you can free up some time to serve? It really is worth considering.
This morning I read 1 Chronicles 26. This chapter deals with a couple of groups of folks who were serving in the temple. The first group was assigned to security – temple bouncers if you will. They were charged to “keep order in the Temple”. Is your church rowdy? Do you need a group of folks to keep order? Ours doesn’t usually get that way. But when I worship in some of the churches here, there are security folks assigned to provide safety to the pastors. Our visit to a couple of metro churches here have had men stationed at the foot of the platform for security, with other wired like FBI people positioned strategically around the worship area. In David’s time – the people selected were described like this: “all of them outstanding and strong”. Would you qualify to be a part of the security team? I had to ask myself if I am “outstanding and strong” when it comes to serving God in our church. Once again the way they were assigned is so God: they were “assigned to their posts by the same method regardless of the prominence of their familes – each picked his gate assignment from a hat”. Don’t you love that – no favorites, no requests. If you serve, then you serve wherever you get assigned. I see a whole new bar set for service here in this book. No strings – no control – just serve as called. There were some who were assigned with guarding entrances. Scripture tells us “the guards stood shoulder to shoulder”. Guys – this is how we need to deal with the enemy and why small groups and groups of men like on this thread are so important. We need to stand together – shoulder to shoulder – to deal with our enemy. He is coming against us. We are much stronger when we go it together. It starts with prayer, but it means we need to spend time with other brothers preparing for and doing spiritual battle. A second group is described in this chapter as well – those who “supervised the finances of the sanctuary of God”. Scripture tells us they were responsible for “anything that had been dedicated ever”. How about that job description. If anyone ever gave anything to this temple – it is your responsibility. Another level of serving that seems pretty high to me. The dedication of those who served – be it musicians, security or finances – it was pretty high and done with no strings attached. People stepped up and did the job assigned. A great example of how we need to serve today as well.
At first read I thought 1 Chronicles 25 was going to be a yawner. Another list of names – this time associated with leading worship for the Levites. But as I reflected on it, God gave me a couple insights that seem rather important. First of all, David is involved here in the selection. “David and the worship leaders selected some”. He was king after all. This seems like a rather trivial thing for a king to get involved in – the selection of the worship team. But not really. These folks set the tone for everyone. I don’t know if your church has a worship team, but I know on Sunday mornings at our church this group makes all the difference on how people get ready to meet God. It was true for David’s time too, and he understood that importance. The second thing that jumped out at me was this: they were doing “divinely appointed work”. Not only did David care, but God has something to say here too. This worship stuff is important to Him and these people were appointed by Him to make a difference. But the biggest thing that jumped off the page at me was when they selected the 288 well trained masters in music. They assembled the best of the best – “well trained in sacred music, all of them masters”. That is one big band. But look at what scripture tells us: “They drew names at random to see who would do what”. If you know any really good musicians, they normally are not the easiest folks to manage or work with. They want things just right and their way because they have earned that ability and position. But in God’s band – David assembles the best 288 musicians and draws names to see who does what. Can you imagine the revolt today if someone tried that. But even more important, I think it sets the tone for service that we all need to take guys. When you sign up to serve God at church or anywhere for that matter – does your service come with “strings attached” (and I am not talking about the instrument strings here)? Mine often does. I’ll serve if…..not exactly the way God wants us to serve. His plan is to do it just like these musicians. As another bible verse says “Here I am send me”. No strings……
1 Chronicles 24 is a list of names from the Levites. Nothing really jumps out from the list other than the fact “They served in this appointed order…..following the procedures laid down”. Sometimes following direction is the best thing to do. I have to admit that my style is more to be outside those lines, but in some cases, probably many cases, obeying the rules and following the procedures is a good thing. Aaron had taken the direction from God on how the Levites were to act. So in reality, these folks were obeying God’s direct orders. That is always a good thing for us to do. We need to be tuned in and on track with what God has in store for us. Are you a rule follower? Do you walk in obedience to the rules set forth? Do you know the rules so you can obey them? Sometimes we want to plead ignorance to even what the rules are. But God has given us a huge percentage of what we need to know in His word. Are you in the Word so you know what and how to obey? The Levites set the standard for us here – and we need to set the standard for those we lead. We are not our own, we were bought with a price and we need to be focused on walking with Him in that relationship of obedience, following the procedures He laid down for us. Let it be so in your life and mine…………
1 Chronicles 23 is all about getting things in order to pass to Solomon. I relate to how the chapter begins: “When David got to be an old man”….sounds familiar to me – how about you? David is running out of steam here but as part of preparing things to pass on to Solomon, he is continuing to put things in order. Now he is getting the leadership aligned and efficient. He brings them all together and there are 38,000 of them. So often when I read scripture I think that the world we live in is just so different than it was then. But think about it – David is leading all of Israel and the leadership of that is 38,000. He is leading a whole bunch of people here – this is no small task. And he does not have email, phones, internet, TV, radio….really an amazing task. David “sorted them into workgroups….divided them into groupings”. He took his leaders and put them together in smaller groups that could get things done. He had to identify and delegate. Hard lesson to learn, harder to actually do. But it was the only hope of setting Solomon up for success. We have to invest in building leaders guys. We only do that as we let go of some tasks and pass them to others. It is scary at times, downright petrifying to me at others, but leadership is about building others to help carry the load. David is doing that here as part of the transition plan. He is putting the foundation in place to drive success. It is a great lesson for us. Are you preparing people to do the work, not only at work, but the work of the ministry as well?