Serve the people

Jeff Weinkauf


1 Kings 12:3-11

3-4 Rehoboam assembled Jeroboam and all the people. They said to Rehoboam, “Your father made life hard for us—worked our fingers to the bone. Give us a break; lighten up on us and we’ll willingly serve you.”

5 “Give me three days to think it over, then come back,” Rehoboam said.

6 King Rehoboam talked it over with the elders who had advised his father when he was alive: “What’s your counsel? How do you suggest that I answer the people?”

7 They said, “If you will be a servant to this people, be considerate of their needs and respond with compassion, work things out with them, they’ll end up doing anything for you.”

8-9 But he rejected the counsel of the elders and asked the young men he’d grown up with who were now currying his favor, “What do you think? What should I say to these people who are saying, ‘Give us a break from your father’s harsh ways—lighten up on us’?”

10-11 The young turks he’d grown up with said, “These people who complain, ‘Your father was too hard on us; lighten up’—well, tell them this: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. If you think life under my father was hard, you haven’t seen the half of it. My father thrashed you with whips; I’ll beat you bloody with chains!’”


Two of the most important components of leadership in my estimation are; 1. Being willing to receive wise council, and 2. Knowing, and then responding to the needs of your people. In both of these areas King Rehoboam fell flat.

Sometimes you have to ask a lot of a team in order to push through to an objective or goal, and certainly every request cannot be met with a "yes". However Rehoboam sacrificed the peoples respect and potentially their deep and lasting loyalty with his harsh response. By not considering the deeper cost of his actions, by not hearing the council of those who had "been there" he lost the hearts of those who would carry the load. As king it certainly was his "right" to demand whatever he wanted of the people. Unfortunately though he did not understand that a harsh dictator forfeits the deep commitment people give to a benevolent one.


A leader who sits in a position of great authority or influence has to understand this dynamic. Great leaders often have followers who will serve sacrificially. In that case that leaders role is to faithfully measure the health and well being of the team. To both allow, but then at times also restrict sacrifice. To rob them of blessing? No certainly not. Rather to keep them healthy to fight another day.

Back in Oregon where I grew up, there are fields up and down the willamette valley, many of them grass seed. Year to year the fields yield a harvest, but every so often the farmer will change up a crop in a certain field and then also he may let that field "rest" for a season. This in order to allow the nutrients to return to the soil so that I can be a strong producer. He'll rotate the crop, and rest a field. This season of rest is not a bad thing rather it's what insures healthy output for years to come.


So may we be attentive both to our selves and also to those we oversee. Unlike King Rehoboam, may we hear and respond to wise council. May we shepherd the people well. Amen

Devotions for June 12

1 Kings 12
2 Chronicles 10,11
Philippians 2

Start Doing Devotions

Devotions are an important part of everyday life. Click here to learn how to do devotions.