Home arrow Blog Format arrow Chapter VIII Rehoboam (I and Me Vs. We and US)
Chapter VIII Rehoboam (I and Me Vs. We and US) Print E-mail
Written by Ray Fairman   


I do not often like to use negative examples as training examples, but at times they do serve a purpose. Once when I was feeling somewhat inept and depressed, one of my subordinates told me that all was not lost, he said I "could always serve as a good, bad example." I guess never ruled that advice completely improvident. Thus I come to this important chapter with a negative example.

If we read I Kings 12:1-24 we can learn a few lessons on how not to lead from Rehoboam a good example of a somewhat egocentric leader. You see Rehoboam was a leader who had a very hard time ever getting beyond connecting with anyone but himself. He did very little to attract and endear his followers. I feel that we can learn great lessons by examining and analyzing our own failures so I guess that's why I have chosen to refer to Rehoboam's leadership contribution as the "Principle of Amalgamation."

As you study the referenced scripture, you will see that Rehoboam was a leader who was much more interested in flexing his own political muscle or clout than actually developing any leader-subordinate relationship with his people. It seemed to me as I read that section of scripture that applying the unifying qualities of teamwork was unquestionably a foreign concept to Rehoboam. (We Marines have a saying that has today spread across many venues, especially the sports world. It goes, "there is no I in TEAM.")

I stand convinced, that to become a good leader, you will frequently be required to do some sacrificial things that for some strange reason seem to be very alien to a lot of so-called leaders in our society today. However, these sacrifices are absolutely necessary in order to truly connect with those you lead and those you serve. You need to remember always that those two terms (lead and serve) are not mutually exclusive; in fact they are much more closely related than most people care to realize.

O.K. now let's look at some of the things that in my humble opinion you must do to really develop a united leadership team and avoid the negative impact of maintaining only individual connections, shall we?

The first thing you need to learn to do is to "get beyond yourself."  This is easily illustrated by observing your ability to leave the "RHIP" (Rank Has It's Privileges) in the background while drawing "RHIR" (Rank Has It's Responsibilities) to the foreground. I believe it was Albert Schweitzer who believed that a person blessed with the knowledge, health, talent and ability to lead should never let selfishness or insecurity develop a gulf between themselves and those whom they are privileged to lead. Getting beyond yourself also means being able to see and evaluate yourself a bit more realistically than others may tend to judge you. You must not only remember, but also believe that to sacrifice for the needs of others is not a duty or an obligation, but a responsibility and an honor and never forget that positions of leadership are and should only be awarded based on performance and capability and should be viewed as a privilege and never as a right.

Another leadership standard you must adopt is the willingness to "absorb and grow through the wisdom of others." They say that a wise man learns from his mistakes. If that is true, then how much wiser is the man who learns through the misfortunes, not only of himself but of others. If Rehoboam had taken the time and sought to learn from the experiences of his elders, he might have discovered that he still had quite a number of things to learn about leading. But this cocky, young and unteachable leader failed to recognize a chance to learn and consequently to grow, thereby eventually leading his nation into disaster. It is my contention that as knowledge and experience are gained; they are stored statically just waiting to become the parents of wisdom. Wisdom indicates that knowledge and experience have to be put into action in order to produce wise results.

In order to ensure that you will always have something judicious to pass along to others, always look for something to learn from everyone you encounter. Like the rules of crime scene evidence state, every encounter with another is an opportunity to bring something in and take something else away from that encounter. So never allow these opportunities, to connect with people and learn, escape your consideration.

A good leader will always "give beyond themselves."  When you focus, like Rehoboam, only on what you can get for yourself, your potential becomes stagnant or stationary like a "Lilly pond," not dynamic and vibrant like a raging river. That means you are going nowhere and doing nothing, which is often a sign of low self-esteem and can frequently be accompanied by a shorter life expectancy.

Leaders, who know where they are going, will always "go beyond themselves." You see, though connecting with others is not complicated; it will always take some effort and sacrifice on your part. This requirement for sacrifice is what so often becomes a leaders undoing. Focusing on the singular "I" instead of the plural "We" is a precursor in planning for defeat. Ask yourself this question, "Who will ultimately insure my success, I alone or those I properly train motivate and watch out for"? It is hard to motivate others, unless you "remain open to their needs." Wise leaders are always attuned to the needs of those who follow them, but must also be wise enough to realize the difference between the real needs and perceived needs and desires of those followers.

If you as a leader consider the importance of "giving first and then accepting the giving of others," you will see the benefits almost immediately. One example I use to use to illustrate this concept is near and dear to the hearts of all police officers. (I can use this example without the fear of being accused of stereotyping, because I served more than 35 years as a law enforcement officer) I will use the example (that even children can understand) that I have an imaginary box of "doughnuts" having just enough doughnuts to allow one for everyone in the room except one person. I ask what the result will be if I take a doughnut first and then pass the box around. The answer is usually the same in most cases. The group tells me that one person in the group will be left out. Then I ask what will be the difference if I do not take a doughnut myself, but elect to pass the box to the others first. They will tell me that I will have no doughnut. Then I ask who in the group would offer me a small piece of their doughnut since I gave out all the doughnuts and left myself out. I usually will end up with enough affirmative responses to result in my receiving two to three times more doughnut than anyone in the group. Leaders must believe that to cast their bread upon the waters will indeed tend to result in it being returned seven fold.

Truly "caring for individuals" gains the attention and respect of crowds. However, playing to that crowd and only paying "lip service" to the caring for others will eventually be exposed for just what it is, manipulation and exploitation. Those are not the character traits required to build a leader a firm foundation based on trust, are they?

Leaders who are not reactive and are truly interested in building a winning team will reach out to their subordinates, who will then reactively reach back to them thus completing a cohesive and permanent bond of brotherhood that can only be described as teamwork.

Whether you are in a new leadership position or have been in one for some time is of no consequence. You must believe that it is never too late to start leading others toward more successful accomplishments by following some of these biblical principles. Remember the measure of a good leader can be found in not what he or she has accomplished single-handedly, but by what they have accomplished through others.

I want to end this chapter with an old toast I heard while serving in the Middle East while in the Marine Corps. It goes something like this "When you came into the world, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life and lead others in such a manner, that when you are finally called home, the world will cry and you will rejoice." This will only happen if you learn to stay connected with those you lead.


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