Max Dawson

Leadership ability is a limiting factor in the lives of some Christians. While we can faithfully serve God even if our skills are few, we can be much more effective if we grow in our skills.

King Saul was a man who failed to grow. Though he was an appointed leader, merely having a position did not help him govern the people of God. His life reads like a catalog of leadership errors. I have listed below some of his mistakes just from 1 Samuel 15.

Failed to obey God’s command to destroy the Amalekites (vv. 8-11).

Set up a monument to honor himself (v. 12).

Lied to God’s prophet, Samuel (v. 13).

Blamed the people for his own disobedience (vv. 14-15).

Guilty of rebellion as he rejected the word of the Lord (vv. 16-23).

Feared the people and not God (v. 24).

Asked for honor before the people of Israel (vv. 25-30).

All this, just from one chapter. We have not looked at chapter 13 where he foolishly offered a sacrifice for which he had no authority. We could mention his foolish vow in chapter 14. We have not noted his anger and jealousy in chapter 18, or how he sought to kill David in chapter 19. And then, there was the case when he killed the Lord’s priests at Nob in chapter 22. And finally, we could note his consulting the medium in chapter 28.

Do you see what I mean when I say his life reads like a catalog of leadership errors? Almost everything he did was wrong. Even though Saul had a position of leadership, that position did not make him an effective leader! He squandered his opportunity to lead the people of Israel to greatness. He turned out to be little more than a positional leader.

Positional leadership–it is one of the problems of our modern times. Whether in politics, on the playing field, in business, or in the church, to merely have a position does not make you an effective leader. Sometimes, men in the church think, “Just give me a position as an elder or deacon, and that will make me a leader.” Can we not see the folly of that kind of thinking from our case study today?

Saul made a dozen or more critical leadership errors. But can we find one thing that was at the center of all his mistakes? In answering that, I would point to 1 Samuel 15:23, “You have rejected the word of the Lord.” No man can be a successful leader of God’s people when he has done that!

Whatever we do as kingdom leaders, let us hold fast to the word of the Lord!

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