Learning From a Rebel
1 Samuel 15:2
“And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, Of what city art thou? And he said, Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel.”
Though Absalom was a rebel, he was smart in how he stole the hearts of the people from his father. If we are not careful, we could lose a valuable lesson from a man who exhibited leadership qualities that he used in a wrong manner. His ability to win the hearts of the people over to him from his father who was a beloved king is a lesson in itself to every leader who desires to be a help to those they lead. You can let Absalom’s rebelliousness blind you from valuable lessons, or you can learn how he stole those hearts so that you can earn the hearts by implementing the same tools he used to gain their hearts. There are four things Absalom did to gain the hearts of the people that every leader should apply if they desire to win the hearts of their followers.
First, make yourself available to the people. Absalom didn’t hide in the palace, but he stood at the gate where the people gathered. Certainly, every leader needs to be careful about breaking down the walls of mystique, but it will never hurt a leader to be among the people. I can understand how busy leaders are, but you cannot be so busy that you are never with the people. The people you lead need to be able to touch you at times. If you are among them, you will find it easier to win their hearts.
Second, be willing to listen to people’s problems. One of the things that Absalom did in the gate was to listen to the problems of the people, and that endeared him to them. Many followers just want the leader to hear their voice. If there is something I have heard from followers throughout the years that has troubled them it is that their leader never listens to them. You will do yourself a great service by listening to the problems people have, not only in their lives, but also with whatever areas of your organization they are discussing. No leader likes to hear negative about their organization, but you can be so closed-minded to listening to things going wrong that you miss the things that could improve your organization. Swallow your pride as a leader and listen to people when they honestly tell you things they see as wrong. If you don’t, you will lose their heart and the ability to lead them.
Third, be inclusive of all groups. Absalom listened to every person so that he could win their hearts. A leader must be careful about having favored groups he likes to be around. The quickest way for a leader to drive a wedge between him and his people is to have one group he favors over another. You are going to have to treat everyone the same. I can understand that there are times when some people have had a greater impact on your life, but you could be missing others who will be a great help to you if you only favor a small group of people.
Fourth, don’t look down to people. When the people came to Absalom and bowed to them, he took their hands and kissed it. He was trying to win their heart by letting them know that he was like them. Be careful about allowing your position to think you are better than others. Leadership position doesn’t make you better or smarter; it just makes you the one God has chosen to lead. Be humble that God chose you to lead and people will gladly want to follow you.