1 Samuel 13:1-14 (Part 1) – Share the Stage In Victory; Stand Alone in Defeat

Posted: January 6, 2018 in 09-1 Samuel
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1 Samuel 13:1-14 (Part 1 of 3)
War with Philistia, Saul’s Disobedience, and Samuel’s Rebuke

There is one thing that I have learned in leadership over the years. That is that you give credit to others when we have victories and you accept all the blame when there are defeats. When there are defeats, you should protect your people from ridicule and take all of that for yourself. The fun is in the winning, as Coach Dabo Swinney once said. However, the learning comes in defeat. When we lose a battle of any kind there are things we must learn as leaders. We are the ones that must examine what went wrong and how to fix it. We must examine our limitations in our talents and our resources and devise ways to compensate for that in the future. As leaders, we cannot dismiss defeat as a bad day. Defeat exposes flaws in our plans, our resources, and our talents. We must learn from the defeats. We learn more in defeat than we ever do in victory. It starts at the top with leadership. We must admit that we did not set the target well. We must admit our overarching plan was flawed. We must admit that we did not see that coming – the defeat that exposed our weaknesses. When we are filled with pride though, it is hard for us to say that we blew it. It must start with the top guy in the leadership chain. He must admit that he did not set the direction appropriate to his direct reports. That then gives his direct reports the freedom to say that they did not do their job well either in developing the details of the top guy’s grand vision. It starts at the top by admitting we as top leaders blew it when we have defeats. This point is the hardest one to learn as a leader. We often try to minimize our errors rather than learn from them. We create spin to cover our blunders instead of admitting them and learning from them.

At the same time, when we have victories as leaders, we must be humble enough to realize that we did not do it alone. We must realize that we may have set the vision as leaders but there are those beneath us that actually executed our vision. Just as with football teams, the coaches can prepare the players with great game plans offensively and defensively, but when the whistle blows to begin the game, the players actually have to go out and make plays, go out and execute the plan that they have been working on all week prior to the game. If players don’t make plays, you can have the most brilliant tacticians as coaches but it will not matter. Just as Churchill and FDR were the principal leaders in the war against Hitler in World War II, but were it not for the brilliance of the American and British military and their soldiers executing brilliant plans, the war would have been lost. When we have victories, we must spread the wealth. We must realize that no matter how good our plans were, we had to have people working for us that make our plans happen. In victory, we share the accolades with those who got us there.

True leadership is tested in defeat. Many will want to scatter from the spotlight when we have blown it. Many will hide from the spotlight or even admitting that mistakes were made. I have found in my professional career, particularly since my salvation in December 2001, that admitting your mistakes and just saying, man, I screwed up, I blew it takes a weight off your shoulders. Being able to admit that you made a mistake shows that we have value outside of the jobs that we do and that our value comes from Jesus Christ not our jobs or earthly endeavors. True leadership is humble in victory when we realize that there are people supporting us that had to make the right decisions at the right times for us to have our victory. We stand among many in victory. We must stand alone in defeat.

That is the thing that I thought of this morning as I read through this passage, 1 Samuel 13:1-14, this morning for the first of three readings of it – that idea that we must spread the accolades when we have victory and stand alone when we have defeat. That idea of a mature leader filled with humility is the opposite of what we see in Saul in this earliest part of his reign as king. Pride is already a problem as we see him take credit for a victory though he had nothing to do with it. Let’s read the passage now:


Chapter 13
1 Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty-two years. 2 Saul selected 3,000 special troops from the army of Israel and sent the rest of the men home. He took 2,000 of the chosen men with him to Micmash and the hill country of Bethel. The other 1,000 went with Saul’s son Jonathan to Gibeah in the land of Benjamin.

3 Soon after this, Jonathan attacked and defeated the garrison of Philistines at Geba. The news spread quickly among the Philistines. So Saul blew the ram’s horn throughout the land, saying, “Hebrews, hear this! Rise up in revolt!” 4 All Israel heard the news that Saul had destroyed the Philistine garrison at Geba and that the Philistines now hated the Israelites more than ever. So the entire Israelite army was summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.

5 The Philistines mustered a mighty army of 3,000[c] chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and as many warriors as the grains of sand on the seashore! They camped at Micmash east of Beth-aven. 6 The men of Israel saw what a tight spot they were in; and because they were hard pressed by the enemy, they tried to hide in caves, thickets, rocks, holes, and cisterns. 7 Some of them crossed the Jordan River and escaped into the land of Gad and Gilead.

Meanwhile, Saul stayed at Gilgal, and his men were trembling with fear. 8 Saul waited there seven days for Samuel, as Samuel had instructed him earlier, but Samuel still didn’t come. Saul realized that his troops were rapidly slipping away. 9 So he demanded, “Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!” And Saul sacrificed the burnt offering himself.

10 Just as Saul was finishing with the burnt offering, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet and welcome him, 11 but Samuel said, “What is this you have done?”

Saul replied, “I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn’t arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. 12 So I said, ‘The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven’t even asked for the Lord’s help!’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came.”

13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

In this passage, we see that Jonathon attacked and destroyed the Philistine outpost, but Saul took all the credit for it. Although this was normal in that culture, it didn’t make the action right. Saul’s growing pride started out small – taking credit for a battle that was won by his son. Left unchecked, his pride grew into an ugly obsession. It destroyed him, tore his family apart, and threatened the well-being of the nation of Israel. Taking credit for accomplishment of others indicates that pride is controlling your life. When you notice pride taking a foothold, take steps to put it in check by giving credit to those who deserve it.

May we be leaders filled with humility. May we be leaders who realize that their personal worth is not tied up in our jobs, our offices, our endeavors, earthly things. May we be leaders who find their value in their relationship with Jesus Christ that gives us confidence and peace to do the right thing without fear. May we be leaders who remain humble and do what is best for our organizations. May we be leaders who are quick to admit our mistakes and to learn from them. May we be leaders who share the victories and take ownership of the defeats. May we forever be subject to your leadership, Jesus!

Amen and Amen.

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