Winning Friends and Influencing People

It's a story in 1 Kings that makes me write today. A story about a king as a matter of fact. King Rehoboam had just taken power and he was seeking advice from the advisers that had served his father Solomon about how to respond to the people who were asking him to go easier on them than his father had. Here is their advice. "If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favourable answer, they will always be your servants" (1 Kings 12:7).

The elders that advised King Solomon were apparently also very wise. As a matter of fact in their advice to King Rehoboam, they actually foreshadow an important leadership principle that Jesus would later teach and exemplify during His life and ministry...the principle of servant leadership.

To their leader, they said, "if you will be a servant and serve these people and show some compassion, they will follow you forever" (my paraphrase). This was a critical decision that Rehoboam had to make that would impact the legacy of his leadership. But Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders. We do learn later that God orchestrated Rehoboam's response in order to fulfill an earlier prophecy (1 Chron. 10:15). Still, that doesn't preclude the fact that a decision to serve the people would have been a better choice.

The first and most obvious lesson here might be this. Listen to your elders. Benefit from the wisdom of those older and wiser and more experienced than you.

But for the purpose of wining friends and influencing people - I make this application today. True leaders are servants. Serve people with a pure heart and they will follow you forever. Steer clear of personal agendas and manipulation and the abuse of power. Instead, lovingly serve people.

Now - that doesn't mean catering to their every whim. It simply means that as we lead people intentionally toward where we know they need to go, we do it with patient, compassionate, and understanding hearts, not driving them with a whip or placing heavy burdens on them, but instead leading them by example and helping them along their journey.

Philippians 2 is a perfect contrast to Rehoboam's decision. Jesus humbled himself and took on the very nature of a servant. That's what we need to do as well.


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