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by Dave Rajoon

A democracy is a system of government in which the whole population gets a chance to participate in selecting its leader. It works best when there is an informed electorate coupled with candidates for office whose best interests are the interests of the people whom he or she expects to serve. Before elected candidates are generally given the chance to present their vision of government to the populace, and after much thought and hopefully, prayer, eligible citizens cast their ballot in favor of the one most suited to lead them effectively and efficiently. Problem is, the system is not flawless and in a deeply polarized society such as ours, it becomes even less so.

The Old Testament book of Judges chapter 9 relates the story of a leadership selection process that ended in disaster because the people did not make an informed choice, and because the leader in question lacked integrity and character. It happened at a critical time in the history of Israel when the aging Gideon, a man chosen by God to lead, was getting ready to ride off into the sunset. Gideon, unfortunately, did not name successor, thinking that the people would defer to God’s leadership. They did not and a leadership vacuum was created. And leadership, like nature ‘abhors a vacuum.’ Into this leadership blank-space steps Abimelech, one of Gideon’s sons by his concubine. Abimelech goes to his mother’s family and makes a proposal that he should be their leader as opposed to all seventy of Gideon’s sons. The people thought it was a great idea and after conferring with the the clan, they appoint Abimelech to lead them on the simple criteria that “he is our brother.” But Abimelech was a ruthless man. His first act was to take money that the people gave to him and hire “worthless and reckless men.” With his band of cutthroats behind him, Abimelech goes over to his father’s house and summarily executes all seventy of the sons of Gideon (his brothers and potential rivals). The only one who escapes is Jotham a young son of Gideon, who hid himself.

In response to this questionable leadership selection process,  Jotham at an opportune time tells the parable of the trees. Using anthropomorphic language in his parable, Jotham says “the trees went forth to anoint a king over them…” First they approached the olive tree saying: “reign over us.” But the olive tree refused because it has an important function, giving oil which is used to “honor God and men.” The olive tree will not hold sway over the trees! Next the trees approach the fig tree, then the vine. Both times they are rebuffed because these trees – like the olive tree – understand their place in the world and the importance of their designated functions. Finally – in desperation it would seem – the trees approached the bramble: “You come and reign over us.” The bramble, full of arrogance – and with nothing to give – responded: “If in truth you anoint me as king over you, Then come and take shelter in my shade; But if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon!”

In reference to Abimelech as the popular choice Jotham tells the people who are listening to him that if they have acted “in truth and sincerity” in making Abimelech King, and if they have “have dealt well with Jerubbaal (Gideon) and his house, and have done to him as he deserves” then they should rejoice in their choice of Abimelech as king. But if they have not, Jotham warned, “let fire come from Abimelech” and ” let fire come from the men of Shechem and Beth Millo.”

Jotham’s parable was analogous to the selection of Abimelech as the people’s leader. It was also prophetic as he would reign only three years before conflict arose between his clan and the same people who made him king. The conflict escalated until it ended in disaster and literal fire, as Jotham prophesied. Abimelech himself met his death at the hands of a woman and his own armor bearer.

There are several observations that can be made from this account. Firstly people crave leadership! There is no doubt that people want to be led. That’s why there are elections. In democratic societies nations are blessed to be able to pick their leaders. Secondly, people don’t always make the right choice. Very often they they are led astray by silver tongued politicians who woo them with empty promises, and because they crave leadership over them, they make unwise selections. Sometimes the most qualified pass over the job and people who have only their own interests at heart jump at the chance to lead. Thirdly, leaders who lack integrity, and who violate the trust of the people will pay a price for if. Unfortunately they can do much damage during their time in office.
Posted on: February 11, 2017
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Acrostics poems are cool!

They are made by taking  a word and using the individual letters to create a poem or puzzle.  Each letter begins another word or phrase.I remember using them as a child and my most memorable acrostic was formed from the word MOTHER. It went something like this: M is for the million things she gave me; O means only that she’s growing old; T is for the tears she shed to save me…you get the idea.

In order to help reinforce some of the learning goals of this leadership training, I have created an acrostic from the word ESCALATE. Each idea or word derived from the acrostic is an important leadership concept. In this chapter we will examine these ideas from the acrostic below. (It is optional but you can feel free to memorize the acrostic):

E – Elevate your calling (go higher): Elevate means “to raise to a higher state, rank, or office; exalt; promote…” In this lesson we will  further explore the idea of going higher in the leadership capacity to which you have been called. Drawing on the work of leadership expert John Maxwell, we will look at the 5 levels of leadership (position, permission, production, people development and pinnacle). 


S – Stand firm (be committed): Your core values are the things that keep you grounded. Many times you will hear leaders who have achieved great things talk about things that they were taught by their parents. Values such as personal integrityhonesty,kindness and so on serve as the foundation for good leadership. 


C – Carry the load ( share responsibility): Every leader is responsible for something, especially as part of a team or organization. Good leadership means being willing to share the responsibility by doing your fair share. Everyone will get a chance to share the glory so everyone should share the responsibility.


A – Accountability (who are you accountable to?): In leadership, no man stands alone. Everyone is accountable to someone and ultimately we are accountable to God.Even though a leader may not have a direct report, there should be someone to whom you answer.


L – Lead like Jesus (servant leadership): Jesus was the greatest servant leader who ever lived; His mission was to serve. You can be a great leader by simply emulating Him.

A – Attitude (determines your altitude): 
How high you go and where you ultimately end up depends a great deal on your attitude in every given situation. How do you handle challenges, disappointments, failures, successes? How do you handle difficult people or criticisms? These are questions we will explore in this lesson.


T – Try and try again (dealing with failure): Every leader will experience failure at some point or the other.But failure is not the end; it should be a stepping stone to success. The leaders that never make it are the ones that did not get up after a fall.


E – Energize (create momentum through passion and motivation): Your passion and your motivation should provide the necessary energy or thrust that creates the momentum for your success. 

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Teaching You To Become A Good Steward

“I can plod.” The man who said those words was William Carey (1761-1834). Perhaps you recognize the name? He is remembered as the father of modern missions, a man who by God’s grace pioneered an awakening in the country of India. He faced severe obstacles and devastating setbacks, yet his ministry was used mightily by God. And he could plod. But is plodding—honorable as it sounds—really what we ought to be doing for God? Is it not more honorable to engage in bold advances for the Kingdom? Shouldn’t we pray for miracles and expect God to do great things? Why plod? Shouldn’t we expect great things from God? Shouldn’t we do something more than just plod?

William Carey was obviously a courageous missionary, and by all accounts, a success. But lest we adopt his plodding mantra without careful thought, let’s think about some of the negative ramifications of plodding.

Perils of Plodding

  • Plodding can result in discouragement. The dictionary definition of plodding is “slow-moving and unexciting.” To illustrate, let’s say a man is a pastor of a small church. He’s a plodder. He’s a faithful guy. But as his ministry rolls on, month after month, year after year, he realizes that not a whole lot is happening. Revivals are not forthcoming. Droves of people are not getting saved. In fact, some of the families that he thought he “put back together,” have come totally unglued. The man plods, but discouragement sets in.
  • Plodding can result in burnout. When a person pours intense labor into something for which they are not gifted, burnout will result. For example, consider a pastor whose gift is Bible exposition. He is not gifted at administration. However, his church of 200 people and lots of programs demands a great deal of administration. Soon, the pastor discovers that the lion’s share of his time is consumed by administrative details. Despite his lack of administrative skill, he tries to organize programs and oversee events. He feels like he’s banging his head against a wall. And eventually, he gives in. He is exhausted. He is fatigued. He plods. And burns out.