1. GREAT LEADERS KEEP LEADING (JUDGES 8:4-8)
Gideon and his men were weary from pursuing their enemies, yet the Scripture states they continued their pursuit. He would not give up just because leading wasn’t convenient.
Leading can be a grind; it can snatch the life right out of you. We often find ourselves weary, but we cannot stop pursuing. This doesn’t mean there aren’t times we need a vacation, but strong leaders keep pursuing long after they feel fatigued. They don’t quit when the going gets tough. Great leaders keep leading.
2. GREAT LEADERS ADDRESS OPPOSITION DECISIVELY (JUDGES 8:16)
Gideon wasn’t afraid of or ignore opposition. He dealt with internal (his son) and external (his enemies) problems quickly and decisively.
If I’ve learned anything over the past 20 years it’s that most problems don’t go away just because you ignore them. Sidestepping contentions only allows them to pile up, creating a synergistic effect that makes conflict resolution exponentially more difficult. Deal with stuff right, but deal with it immediately. Great leaders deal with opposition decisively.
3. GREAT LEADERS INVEST IN THEIR FAMILY (JUDGES 8:19-20)
Gideon was invested in his family. He took time to teach his sons. He took the treatment of his family seriously. Great pastoral leaders are invested in their families.
I don’t want to sound cold or accusatory, but most people are fickle. Church members will cut you off in a second. You can be the big kahuna today and the scum of the earth tomorrow. You’ll spend weeks, months, even years, pouring into some people who tell you they love you, only to find them walking out, turning on you, and that without warning. Invest in your spouse and children. They love you unconditionally and will be there long after the people have left. Not to mention your family is your first ministerial priority anyways. The Bible teaches us if we can’t lead our own houses we have no business leading others (1Ti 3:5).
4. GREAT LEADERS EQUIP OTHERS (JUDGES 8:20)
Gideon delegated and trained those that fought with him. He gave his fellow laborers an opportunity to win. He gave them the opportunity to participate in their victories.
Delegation is one of the hardest things to do, but it must be done. And ... it must be done right. Trust me, I’ve learned this the hard way. I’ve spent much time asking people to do things that they did not know how to do. When people don’t have the necessary knowledge to fulfill the task you’ve asked them to do, they become frustrated and quit. After several experiences of delegating jobs to people, only to watch them quit or do them half-heartedly, the knee-jerk reaction is to just do it yourself. This invariably leads to burnout. Do yourself a favor and train the people you’re delegating responsibilities to. It may take weeks, even months, but it will be worth your time. You will be able to cover far more ground with TEAMS working together as opposed to you working alone. And don’t forget to allow everyone to share in the victories and successes. No man is an island. You didn’t get where you are by yourself, unless of course you’ve swam out to an island.
5. LEADERS ARE CONCERNED WITH THE KINGDOM OF GOD, NOT THEIR EMPIRE (JUDGES 8:23)
Gideon was successful. He led his men to many great victories. God’s favor was with him mightily, therefore, the people responded by asking him to rule over them; to be their king. Gideon said, “No. God will lead us.” Gideon was humble. Gideon knew who had truly given them the victory. Gideon was a man of God. This point is what prompted me to write this article. My heart was filled with the utmost admiration for Gideon. He didn’t even hesitate to point his men toward God.
There are far too many dictatorial pastors in our churches. They pastor “their” church; “their” people; and operate “their” ministries. They want glory. Everything they do must be seen of men or they feel like they’re a failure. Listen, we work for God. We use His provisions. We breathe His air. His life keeps our heart pumping blood through our veins. Give God the glory for everything. Stop trying to lord over God’s heritage (1Pe 5:3). I see this over and over with pastors who think everyone has to come to "their" church. Real pastoral leadership isn’t about building your own kingdom, it’s about building the kingdom of God. If your labors cause someone to yield to Christ, yet that person attends another church, so what!? God rules. The Church is His and it's much larger than our littler congregations.
6. GREAT LEADERS MESS UP (JUDGES 8:24-27)
Gideon messed up big time! Even after all of the great things he did-even after pointing to people to God-he caused them to err in their faith. He asked them to give him their golden earrings which ended up yielding about 71 pounds worth. By today’s prices, that’s approximately $1.2 million dollars worth. He took the 71 pounds of gold and made it into an ephod (a sleeveless garment worn by Jewish priests) and a breastplate. You talk about bling bling–a 71 pound golden garment! The ephod was so amazing the people of God started worshiping it. Wow!
Don’t get me wrong, Gideon didn’t mean for this to happen. He would have never made it had he known what they would do, but he didn’t discern the heart of the people and made a terrible judgment call.
You and me are going to have lapses in judgment resulting in mistakes. You might as well get ready, it’s just part of leadership. But be humble. You have to learn to repent, apologize, and then move on! Do better the next time. Don’t allow your failures to paralyze you.
8. LEADERS ARE A BLESSING TO THOSE AROUND THEM (JUDGES 8:28)
God’s favor on Gideon was a blessing to the Israelites. Despite Gideon’s lack of discernment and Israel’s idolatry, God honored Gideon’s faith and humility. He gave Israel 40 years of peace.
Stay holy. Stay humble. You may stumble here and there, but God isn’t fickle. He knows your intents and motives. If you’ll stay faithful to God and His kingdom, the blessings of the Lord will overtake you and those blessings will overflow, saturating everyone around you.
I hope these 8 lessons help you!