A Classic Leadership Mistake

I have come to realize that we are the sum total of our decisions. Each of us can look back at the critical decisions we have made and see how they directed the course of our lives. Flash forward to the path we see before us. For better or for worse, our destiny is determined by decisions. Many times big decisions might seem like little decisions, but destiny can turn on a dime when we make a poor decision.

A great example in the Bible is found in 1 Kings 12:8. Solomon has died and is asleep with his fathers (1 Kings 11:43). His son, Rehoboam, was all set to be crowned the king over Israel (1 Kings 12:1). The people request an audience with the young king and they plead that they will serve the king if he will lighten the heavy load his father put on them (1 Kings 12:4). Rehoboam wisely delays his decision and seeks counsel from the elders (1 Kings 12:5).

The wise and experienced elders recommend that Rehoboam back off the hard labor on the people in order to gain their loyalty (1 Kings 12:7). Here is the decision that determined the destiny of the nation, Rehoboam abandoned the counsel of his parents’ generation and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him (1 Kings 12:8, 13). “If you thought my father was hard, you ain’t seen nothing yet” (1 Kings 12:14). These young men inherited something for which they did not work for or earn.

In politics today, how often do we read about our young national leaders forsaking the wise counsel of history in order to embrace failed socialistic policies of the past? Once the “new generation” is in power (Generation We) they will set the new course for America. As Solomon’s situation predicted, the Builders and Boomers who created a strong America will soon die off and leave it all to fools who did not earn it… all vanity and futility (Ecclesiastes 2:17, 18, 19, Psalm 39:6, 49:10). They will eventually learn that promoting and endorsing a utopian society will not make it so just because they claim to have the larger voting block.

But I digress, what about your situation? Who are you listening to?

I think Rehoboam made the classic mistake many young leaders make. He surrounded himself with “yes men.” By surrounding himself with the good-old-boys from his youth he limited his counsel and experience. It’s so important to have some people who can speak into our lives from a different vantage point. It’s so important to have counselors who have been there, done that and can speak from experience. It’s so important to respect those who have made more trips around the block and around the sun.

I believe that we only make a few major decisions in our lives and we spend the rest of our lives managing those major decisions. In context, this little decision by Rehoboam (to listen to the wrong crowd) split the kingdom in two! It led to civil war between the Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12:16, 19, 20). All of this sprang from a young leader’s arrogance. He even foolishly sent Adoram (the leader over the forced labor) to share the news, and the people killed him (1 Kings 12:18).

I think it’s important that we listen to the voice of innovation but we also need to listen to the voice of wisdom and experience.

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