1 Samuel 10:17-27 (Part 3) – If Ya Ain’t Part of the Solution; You’re Part of the Problem

Posted: January 3, 2018 in Book of 1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 10:17-27 (Part 3 of 3)
Saul Is Acclaimed King

If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. It’s an old axiom that indicates that it is easy to complain but it much harder to come up with solutions to problems. It’s true in the business world and it is equally and especially true in the church world. It is so easy to criticize what you don’t like about a church and how it is led but it is a whole ‘nother thing to have to make those decisions yourself. Being in leadership at church is often like being the president of the United States. No matter what you do. No matter what decision you make. Someone is going to be unhappy about it. Criticism just comes with the territory.

Recently, our church had to part ways with its youth pastor. It created somewhat of a firestorm within a certain segment of our church’s population. What do you do if you are a leader in the church, part of the church leadership team, and such things happen? What do you do when a major change is made when senior leadership makes a change in an area that is outside your lane within the leadership structure of the church. Do you get behind senior leadership or do you become part of the crowd of complainers? Although in this case, I understood why the action was taken. What if I had not agreed with it? What then? Do I become part of the complainers or do I fall behind leadership or do I voice opinions privately to senior leadership but show public solidarity with my senior leadership? Tough questions. Sometimes, we think that church should be easy. It should be flowers and daisies and running through fields tossing flowers as we go. But church is like any other organization, it is filled with people. People with their own agendas. People with flaws. People with strong opinions. People coming at church with their own backgrounds and experiences and hurts and baggage and victories and defeats. As long as church has people in it, there is going to be conflict and there is going to be criticism of leadership decisions. There is always going to be criticism of leadership direction. Just as we often do with football where it is easy to criticize what could have been done differently after the fact, so it is with church.

Like Monday night, it is easy to second-guess why Clemson look so inept offensively against Alabama in the semi-final game and criticize the preparation, it ultimately came down to the Alabama players wanting the game more. It came down to the talent difference between Alabama’s defense and Clemson’s offense was greater than the talent difference between Clemson’s defense and Alabama’s offense. When Alabama had the ball the talent was about equal between their offense and our defense. When Clemson had the ball, the talent gap between this year’s Clemson offense and this year’s Alabama defense was glaringly obvious. Alabama did just enough on offense to win the game. Clemson was unable to do anything on offense. That was difference. But there are Clemson fans who will be second guessing our coaching staff all the way until the 2018 football season starts in September. Sometimes, as football fans, we refuse to believe that our team is just less talented than another. This year, although Clemson was one of the best team’s in the country (and their 12-2 final record proves it), they simply were not as good as Alabama. There will be complainers. There will be claims that our offensive coordinators are dunderheads. However, one thing is for sure, Coach Swinney will not listen to all that chatter. He will learn from the mistakes of Monday night, make the necessary changes that are needed and move on. He cannot listen to the armchair coaching staff among the Clemson faithful. The track record of this staff of making the right decisions and doing the right things to keep the program moving forward far outweigh one bad night in New Orleans.

So it is with the church, there are tough decisions that often have to be made by senior leadership. Sometimes those decisions will be unpopular. There will be criticism. Sometimes the criticism will come because people fear losing the position that they have gained with certain personnel on staff. Sometimes, people will complain because they let pride get in the way. Sometimes, we complain from selfish motives. Sometimes, we just don’t understand the bigger picture.

Parting ways with a youth pastor was an employment decision that was a necessary one for the future growth of our youth ministry. Although he was a lovable person and liked by many, sometimes we have to make tough employment decisions in church as to who is going to take a ministry to the next level. We have to make those decisions in the secular world and we have to make them in the church world. Sometimes those decisions will not be popular. We must however as leaders of the church make the decisions that honor God. We must always make decisions that are intent on giving God honor then we will make them without concern over their popularity.

That was the thing that I thought this morning as I read through 1 Samuel 10:17-27 this morning – how the criticism of Saul began even before he began to reign as king and how that idea is so present in our churches today. Let’s read it together now:

17 Later Samuel called all the people of Israel to meet before the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you. 19 But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’ Now, therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by tribes and clans.”

20 So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. 21 Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! 22 So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”

And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” 23 So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

24 Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”

And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Then Samuel told the people what the rights and duties of a king were. He wrote them down on a scroll and placed it before the Lord. Then Samuel sent the people home again.

26 When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a group of men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 27 But there were some scoundrels who complained, “How can this man save us?” And they scorned him and refused to bring him gifts. But Saul ignored them.

[Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the people of Gad and Reuben who lived east of the Jordan River. He gouged out the right eye of each of the Israelites living there, and he didn’t allow anyone to come and rescue them. In fact, of all the Israelites east of the Jordan, there wasn’t a single one whose right eye Nahash had not gouged out. But there were 7,000 men who had escaped from the Ammonites, and they had settled in Jabesh-gilead.]

In this passage, we see that some men became Saul’s constant companions, while others despised him. Criticism will always be directed toward those who lead because they are out front. At this time, Saul took no notice of those who seemed to be against him, although later he would be consumed with jealousy. As you lead, listen to constructive criticism, but don’t spend time and energy worry about those who may oppose you. Instead focus your attention on those who are ready and willing to help.

Let us be a people that if we have issue with decisions made by leadership that we go directly to leadership to discuss them rather than complaining publicly and trying to garner anti-decision support. Let us be a people who seek to figure out the best way to reconcile conflicts to the good health of the church. Let us be a people who seek solutions to problems WITH leadership rather than complain against leadership. Let us above all be a people who honors God and His Word by the way we handle criticizing leadership. May we criticize privately directly with leaders rather than standing on a table top complaining as to what is wrong. May we work with leaders to find godly solutions to problems. May we do what is consistent with Scripture. May we pray for our leaders daily to make the godly decisions needed to ensure the future of our flock. May we pray that we work toward constructive solutions rather than divisive rhetoric.

Amen and Amen.

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