Monday, August 10, 2020

“But Gideon told them, ‘I will not rule over you, nor will my son rule over you. The Lord will rule over you.’” —Judges 8:23

Can you remember the first time you were put in charge of something? Maybe your parents gave you a chore to do every Tuesday afternoon when you got home from school. Maybe a teacher gave you a classroom job that would be yours for a whole week. Maybe you were an older sibling allowed to stay home alone as long as you promised to keep an eye on your little brother or sister.

There’s an episode of The Office in which Assistant to the Regional Manager Dwight Schrute is allowed to put together the holiday and weekend work calendar. As he proudly works on the schedule, suggesting that his nemesis Jim will need to work on the coming Saturday, Jim says, “This is the smallest amount of power I’ve ever seen go to someone’s head.”

For all of us, being put in charge of something creates the possibility that we’ll abuse that power in some way. Authority is a responsibility, and we need to be responsible with it.

In the centuries following their exodus from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites faced relentless pressures, both internal and external. Internally, they struggled to keep faith with the covenant God had made with them. They went through cycles of rebellion and repentance.

The Israelites also faced external pressure from hostile neighbors. In Judges 6, we read about the oppression carried out against the Israelites by the Midianites. When the Israelites cried out to God, he raised up for them a great military leader named Gideon, who led the people to victory against their oppressors. As so often happens, the great military leader of liberation was asked to rule over the people.

Gideon’s response, one of today’s Daily Texts, reveals that he had not lost sight of his role. He was not the ruler over Israel. God alone ruled Israel. Gideon served God in the unique role to which God had called him.

Leadership of any kind is stewardship of something entrusted to us. Humans (other than Jesus) never rule in an absolute sense. When we have authority, whether in a specific situation or in a particular group, we have that authority in order to serve God and to benefit the situation or group. Human leaders don’t rule. Human leaders serve.

In whatever areas you’re in charge today, may you lead well by serving well. And may you remember that the Lord—and only the Lord—rules over each of us.

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