By Rebecca Holloway
Are you a leader in hiding?
Samuel was dedicated to the Lord as a boy and served Him faithfully his whole life. He was the last judge in Israel and a prophet, and the Bible says that the Lord was with him and no word of his ever fell to the ground (I Samuel 3:19). Samuel was leading Israel at a particularly dark time in their history. The glory of the Lord had departed from Israel and the ark of the Lord had been captured by the Philistines. Under Samuel’s leadership, the ark was returned to Israel and the Philistines had been subdued. But as Samuel grew in age, Israel began to cry out for a king. Samuel was against this idea, but the Lord told him to go ahead and do it. After all, they were not rejecting Samuel. They were rejecting the Lord as their King.
The Lord told Samuel exactly who He had selected as king, and Samuel found him and almost immediately anointed him as king. His name was Saul, son of Kish. He had “the look.” He was tall, ruddy, and handsome, as the Bible describes him. After he was selected by Samuel, Saul right away began prophesying, and all that the Lord said he would do, he began to do without any delay. But when Samuel called all of Israel together to officially make Saul king, here’s what happened:
Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah and said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.” When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?”
And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” (1 Samuel 10:17-22)
He had hidden himself among the supplies? Some translations say baggage or equipment. The KJV says – and I love this – “stuff.” Wait a minute. Let’s go back and think through this. Saul had already been anointed by Samuel as the first king of Israel. It says in v. 9 of this same chapter that he had had a change of heart. Everything Samuel told him would happen had happened. Then what in the world was he doing hiding among the baggage?
Imagine it in more modern terms. Let’s say Queen Elizabeth has passed away in England, and Charles is set to become king. He knows this because he is next in the line of succession. There is no question about it. But on coronation day, instead of being where he’s supposed to be, no one can find him. They finally find him hiding behind the television cameras or something. Why would someone who had been called and anointed to lead hide?
One commentator I read on this passage had this to say: “From the beginning of Saul’s story, we see hints of the life-long struggle that would plague his leadership – a lack of trust in God. Saul’s life is a sad story of unrealized potential…”[i] And his story is truly that. It wasn’t long before Saul was disobeying direct orders from God, and Samuel was constantly calling him out on it until finally Samuel left Saul and never returned to him. Saul was consistently acting selfishly, impulsively, and disobedient, and ultimately, the Lord rejected him as king. Samuel would eventually anoint David to be king in his place.
So what is the lesson here? Are you a leader in hiding? Are you hiding behind your baggage? If the Lord has called you to a task, He has equipped you for that task. Our job is to trust Him and walk in obedience to His commands. Oftentimes, I think we do let our stuff keep us from leading. We’ve all got baggage. We’ve got personal baggage. We’ve got baggage at our jobs. We may even have spiritual baggage. Much like Saul, we all have character flaws that can keep us from leading. But God has not called us to hide behind it. He has called us to obey and lead out of that obedience. We need to take our “stuff” to God and let Him work on it. If we don’t do that, ours could be a sad story of unrealized potential.
My husband has said many times, “We need to get what’s in our way out of our way so we can go God’s way.” Find out what the baggage is and get it out of your way. Don’t be a leader in hiding. Be a leader who trusts God and lives to the full potential He has placed in you.
Rebecca Holloway is the wife of Stewart Holloway, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pineville, and the mother of two sons, Zach and Evan. This editorial was first shared at the monthly First at First Business Leaders Luncheon and later on her blog.