There are so many leadership principles evident in these chapters of Scripture that I would be remiss not to point them out.
- Leaders are Servants – Rehoboam lost the loyalty of his people because he tried to lord power over them rather than to come as a servant. The moment a leader forgets this truth is the moment he or she transitions from being a leader to being a dictator. People follow dictators out of fear rather than loyalty, and when they are given the opportunity, they either flee from or overthrow the one in charge.
- Leaders do not fear losing their Influence – Jeroboam's big mistake was that he was afraid he would lose the people that God had given him. So he created idols for them to worship lest they turn back to the house of David. A real leader knows that any influence he or she has is given by God for a period of time. God has the power to take away the influence at any moment, so any attempts to cling to influence are futile. Real leaders know that their influence isn't about them anyway: it's about honoring God. And the moment that stops happening, they lose the very thing they cling so tightly to.
- Leaders know that God doesn't change His mind – This was the fault of the man of God who went to speak to Jeroboam. He was given specific instructions by the Lord, and he followed those instructions until he was confronted by another prophet who claimed that he had a different word from the Lord. God doesn't change His mind because if He did, then that means He was wrong to begin with. Since God cannot be wrong, He cannot change His mind. If God gives a leader instructions, then those instructions need to be carried out. God will not renege on what He asks of us. Consider Abraham and his sacrifice of Isaac. God did not renege on what He wanted. He never wanted Abraham to kill his son; he wanted Abraham's heart. That's what He received in the end.
- Leaders Fear God – When the man of God continued his journey home he was killed by a lion because he didn't follow through with God's commands. One of the saddest realities of the Church today is that there is not much evidence of a fear of God. I have to ask myself: if the man of God knew what he was getting himself into and respected God for who He is, would he have still chosen the way he did? I think today we see God as virtually powerless. If a leader realizes the depth of what he is doing, then he will fear God in all that he does.