Even the harshest of dictators has a panel of people around them to help make decisions. These people are typically those that have the trust of the top man or woman. However, just because they have the trust of their leader, doesn’t necessarily make them the best choice for that position. Let’s take a look at a historical account of a newly appointed leader getting some good and bad advice.
I Kings 12 tells us the story of the newly crowned King of Israel, Reheboam. Shortly after he was installed as king, a representative group from the kingdom came to him to ask him if he was going to continue in the ways of Solomon when it came to what would be expected of them. Reheboam asked them to give him three days and he would have an answer for them. During those three days, Reheboam decided to get some counsel from those around him.
The first group of people that he approached were those who had advised Solomon during his reign. Their advice was for him go be considerate of the people and treat them the same way that Solomon had. In doing so, they advised that Reheboam would earn their trust and respect.
Upon hearing this advice, Reheboam then went to a group of his friends and asked their opinion. Their answer to the question was that Reheboam needed to establish an iron fist mentality and right from the start be seen as an absolute authority figure. Now, Reheboam was faced with a choice between two opposite ends of the spectrum. It would quickly be revealed who had King Reheboam’s ear.
Well, Reheboam took the advice of his friends and announced himself as an iron-fisted ruler who was going to be far more harsh than Solomon had ever been. The response was not what he had hoped for or expected. The delegation from Israel essentially removed themselves from Reheboam’s rule claiming that they had no part of David’s house anymore. Reheboam was now left with the tribe of Judah as his only subjects. Maybe he should have listened to those who had advised Solomon for so long.
I’ve seen this type of thing many times. A new boss shows up on the job or a new staff member comes on board at a church and the first thing they want to do is a complete overhaul of the existing system. In my experience, this rarely works. It shows those under the new leader that nothing they have been doing is good enough. It shows (intentionally or not) a complete lack of confidence in those who have been pouring into something for significantly longer than the new boss has been.
I have been guilty of this as well. After graduating from college, I took my first worship pastor position. I was brought in to help the church transition into a more contemporary (I hate that word) worship setting. The problem was, I came in fresh out of college with both guns blazing. We were going to be contemporary and we were going to be contemporary right away. I had a Master’s Degree in Church Music and I was not going to be afraid to use it. You can guess how well this went over. The phrase lead balloon comes quickly to mind.
I had people in the church telling me it was too much too soon, but I knew better. I was going to make my mark. Somehow I lasted three years in this particular church. I learned a whole lot during those three years.
I learned that just having a degree doesn’t always make me the smartest guy in the room. I learned that the opinions of those around me, while different from mine, matter just as much and warrant careful consideration. I learned that when people feel that they have a voice in the process, they will go along with changes much more readily than when they are simply told that this is how it’s going to be.
Here’s the point. Surrounding yourself with those who simply agree with you is often fruitless. Part of being a leader is being willing to listen to dissenting voices and weigh the arguments being made. Doing so will enhance your ability to lead. Going at it your own way will only weaken your position of leadership. So, who has your ear?