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Special instructions for leaders

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Read Proverbs 31:1-9

Is this wisdom from another king or just a pseudonym by which to offer more of Solomon’s wisdom?

Scholars don’t necessarily agree on this. In any case, it takes a little different format from Solomon’s usual pairings but has been canonized as a part of godly wisdom as we know it.

What is for sure is that this is leadership wisdom. In original context, it applied to the king. Today, we might just find application for all who practice leadership.

Realize this is written from mother to son and one of the first things she says is don’t spend your strength on women.

Now what does this mean?

The leader is a person of purpose and passion, but personal passions often are set aside for the good of the kingdom or the battalion or the corporation.

This has nothing to do with normal marital relations, which should remain strong in all areas. It has to do with lust and in Solomon’s day, if you were a king and wanted many lovers, all you had to do was order it.

The problem is that even in a society where this is socially acceptable, it is not profitable for a king, or commander, or CEO.

Purpose, focus, discipline are needed to lead and lead well.

The same is true for alcoholic beverages. The king could party like it was 1999 all the time. The problem is that craving the high or relaxed state that the alcohol brings on diminishes the drive needed to lead.

It also makes a leader vulnerable to bad decisions.

Have you ever tried to convince someone who consumed too many drinks that they were in no shape to drive home? It is harder than you think.

They are Superman.

They are invincible.

They make stupid decisions.

When after a few too many drinks, Joe the plumber promises to install somebody’s new shower for twenty bucks, it really only impacts him and the customer that is not going to get the deal of a lifetime.

When a king makes a decision while impaired, it may impact many, many more.

When the king or the CEO is always craving a drink, his mind is not on what matters and matters will not be handled well.

The second part of this piece of wisdom on alcohol was likely the birth of country and western music. It says let those who need to drown their sorrows be the ones who drink too much. This is not a command but a contrast to the demands of leadership.

Again, I have found neither license nor prohibition concerning the consumption of alcoholic beverages in the entire Bible; yet, there is plenty of counsel to steer clear of drunkenness or significant impairment.

This proverb says that the stakes go up when you are at the top of the organization.

Don’t crave alcohol.

Don’t get drunk.

The consequences are too high.

The last piece of counsel in this section brings us to one of the main purposes of a godly king, or commander, or governor.

Be a champion for those who have no voice. Defend the poor. Help the helpless. Be fair to all, especially those who cannot stand up for themselves.

To be a leader requires sacrifice. For the duration of the time that the world was governed mainly by kings and a royal line, many were born into positions of power. Some accepted the sacrifices required and others rejected them.

Today, especially in countries with representative governments, people seek offices of power. Prior to doing this they should ask and answer the question, “What sacrifices am I willing to make to serve the people.”

Unfortunately, the question they most often ask is, “What sacrifices am I willing to make to get elected.”

Sometimes they are the same sacrifices, but the intent often determines the quality of their leadership.

These few verses can be narrowed down to a few words—selfless, unselfish, and servant. The true leader is a servant of the people whom he governs or manages.

If he seeks to gratify his own needs first, he is less effective as a leader.

If he sets aside or delays his personal desires to serve his people, he is often very effective.

What is required to lead and be good at it?

Passion for your people, unselfishness, and a godly sense of justice are surely at the top of the list.

There are thousands upon thousands of books about leadership and leadership styles, but in the end an attitude of service towards those led is always essential.

Among many of the readings of leadership that I have enjoyed over the years, one from the Marine Corps Manual has always stuck with me.

The special trust and confidence, which is expressly reposed in officers by their commission, is the distinguishing privilege of the officer corps. It is the policy of the Marine Corps that this privilege be tangible and real; it is the corresponding obligation of the officer corps that it be wholly deserved.

The reminder to the leader at most every level is that the power, authority, and trust placed in him must be wholly deserved.

Leadership is not a quality, a mindset, or a system of values. It is a way of life.

This concludes this brief section on leadership and positions us for the final section of the Proverbs.

Amen.

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