1 Kings 12:7
“And they spake unto him, saying, If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day, and wilt serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be thy servants for ever.”
When Rehoboam took over the throne of Israel, there must have a been a bit of uneasiness about leading God’s people. He had just assumed the throne after two great leaders, and there is no doubt some anxiety existed about being able to get the people to follow him after these great leaders.
Rehoboam did the right thing by going to the old men to ask their advice on how to lead the people. We often miss their advice because of Rehoboam’s foolish decision to forsake their counsel, but their advice was gold for any leader who wants to be a good leader. In the verse above, there are four attributes given that will help every leader to lead successfully. Let me share these four leadership attributes that every successful leader must embrace.
The first leadership attribute is benevolent leadership. These men said to Rehoboam, “If thou wilt be a servant unto this people this day…” They were telling Rehoboam not to make his position about himself; rather, lead to meet the needs of the people. Poor leadership makes position about what they get out of it instead of what they can do to help those they lead. If you lead with a concern of what your people can do for you, you will never lead them to greatness. Selfish leadership produces selfish followers, and selfish followers create a divisive atmosphere. The best leader leads to bring out the best in their followers and to help them to achieve more than they thought they could ever do.
The second leadership attribute is servant leadership. These men told Rehoboam to “serve” the people. The purpose of leadership is not to see how to get out of work, but it is leading others as you work together. You will never be a good leader if you are afraid of getting your hands dirty. Certainly, there is an aspect in leadership that delegates, but before you delegate your people better see that you are willing to work. Leaders will never gain the respect of their followers if they are not willing to get their hands dirty in the work they are leading others to do. People will more aptly follow a leader who they know is willing to do the same work.
The third leadership attribute is engaged leadership. These men told Rehoboam to “answer” the people. In other words, they were advising him to be engaged with his people. These older men were advising Rehoboam to be touchable. Aloof leadership that can never be touched leads to frustrated followers. Followers need to be able to touch their leaders. If a follower can’t touch their leader, they will find someone else to follow who will answer their questions and concerns. Never think you are too big to be around those you lead. Engaged leadership always has dialogue with their followers, and dialogue is what allows engaged leadership to know how to build their people.
The fourth leadership attribute every leader should have is respectful leadership. These men told Rehoboam to “speak good words” to the people. Don’t ever use your position to belittle your followers. You will never gain the respect of those you lead if you treat them as subservients. Followers will respect leadership when leadership respects the follower. Respect goes both ways. Respectful leadership always treats followers with dignity, and it always leads to a great bond between leader and follower.