What Happens When We Don’t Lead

Now Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, “I will be king.” And he prepared for himself chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him. His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, “Why have you done thus and so?” (1 Kings 1:5-6)

I don’t know a man who doesn’t struggle, in one way or another, with his role as a leader-in his home, his work, his ministry. It’s a tough, tough task. But God has clearly called us as men to LEAD. We struggle between the balance of over-agressive, autocratic leadership, and under-agressive, passive leadership. Striking the balance is not easy, but it must be doable. But it does require a large dose of the grace of God and a reliance upon Him CONSTANTLY. 

It’s easy, like Adam did, to go passive. We are tempted to think that if we just ignore a touchy situation that calls for strong leadership it will just go away, particularly with our children. King David’s failures in this arena prove otherwise.

Three times in David’s life he let his love for his children abort his leadership of his children…and each time it cost him. First, with his son, Amnon who raped his half-sister, Tamar. David failed to discipline Amnon (1 Sam. 13). David’s other son, Absalom, took an offense up for this injustice. He waited until an opportune time and then rose up and killed Amnon. 

This later led to Absalom’s rebellion against his father, which hurt all of Israel and led to many deaths.  We have to suspect that Absalom lost respect for his father. In this seeming leadership vacuum, Absalom seized control. Again, David failed to deal quickly and decisively with Absalom. His procrastination led to one of the darkest moments in David’s reign.

And then, at the end of David’s life, his son Adonijah led another rebellion to seize the throne. David was old and tired and perhaps was not leading well. Instead of quickly clarifying what David knew to be true (that Solomon was to be king), David did not confront Adonijah and ask him what he was doing. He just let it go on until it escalated into a nasty situation that divided David’s family. David is not solely to blame for this, of course, because it was fueled by Adonijah’s selfish ambition–his desire for the throne for himself, but David’s lack of strong leadership opened the door for Adonijah’s rebellion and for others who were confused by a lack of a clear directive from their king. 

The implications are clear and convicting to us as leaders. Whenever we don’t lead with timely, just, proactive leadership–even within our own families–it leads to confusion. A vacuum of strong leadership will always open the door wide for those who think they know how to lead better. It can also tempt unduly ambitious men to usurp authority.

I once heard a man say regarding meetings that “the man who is best prepared leads in any meeting.” If you are a leader and don’t pay the price to prepare, lead with proactive leadership, then the person in the room who has prepared better ends up being the defacto leader–whether you want that to happen or not. 

This passage also has volumes to say to us as Dads. It’s so easy to go passive in the leadership of our own children out of an improper view of loving leadership. When we see difficulties in the lives of our kids, we must love them enough to confront with grace and truth. We must seize those moments as great opportunities to teach them and model leadership. We must LEAD…and lead well.

Leadership is hard, but we can lead well by the grace of God and a dogged reliance upon Him. David’s story is written to help us lead with great love and strong clarity.

©Bill Ellif 2012