One of the leaders God raised up when Israel had forsaken him and had been subdued by an enemy was an unlikely man named Gideon. I say ‘unlikely’ because he really didn’t have the qualities we would look for in a leader. He is introduced in Judges 6.
“The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, ‘The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.’” (Judges 6:11-12 NIV)
Gideon didn’t recognise himself in the way the angel addressed him. He wasn’t a brave warrior; he was hiding his wheat and threshing it in a winepress so he wouldn’t get caught. The part that Gideon questioned initially was “The Lord is with you”. His response was, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?”
“The Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?’” (Judges 6:14)
In response Gideon questioned why God was speaking to him. How could he save Israel? He wasn’t a great warrior – in fact, he was from the weakest clan in Israel and he was the least in his own family. God surely had the wrong man!
God’s answer was the perfect answer: “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive” (Judges 6:16). In other words, Gideon had nothing to worry about. Any victory would not be due to his leadership skills but because God was with him.
Gideon still wasn’t convinced. He asked God to prove it to him by giving him a sign: he placed a piece of wool on the floor of the threshing floor – if the fleece was wet and the ground dry, he would know God was using him to save Israel. But when this happened he still wasn’t satisfied – he had God do it again, only reversing the conditions and asked that the fleece be dry and the ground wet. God was extremely patient with Gideon and once again gave him the sign he asked for.
I cannot help but wonder if we would have been any different. Do we step forward when leadership is needed? Or are we like Gideon and have to be coerced into doing anything?
God needs good, strong leaders amongst his people today. Yet the qualities he is looking for are not those that we usually think of as being leadership qualities. God wants those who are faithful Christians, have added the Spirit’s fruit to their lives, and their growing to be more like Jesus. When the apostles looked for men to help get food to those who needed it, what they were looking for were men known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom (Acts 6:3). Leadership in God’s eyes is grounded in our faith in Jesus and our experience in living as a Christian.
God needs leaders. Are we growing in our faith so we can become the kind of leaders God needs?
Photo by eyetoeyedesignwhitby from pixabay.com
Readings for next week: Judges 5-9