A recent Google search for the word leadership returned 811,000,000 hits in under a second.
Leadership is an evergreen topic of interest to a vast throng of people. Do you want to sell a book? Include the word leadership in the title. Someone will buy it. Is the goal to attract attendees to a conference? Schedule a popular keynote speaker who can discuss leadership in a folksy but motivational manner. Watch the pens in action as the note-takers attempt to capture every point.
Most of us have heard (and can possibly quote) an abundance of anecdotes on leadership. At the top of my list sits the placard from a coworker’s cubicle wall which stated in block letters, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way.”
We’ve listened to scores of lectures and sermons on leadership. We’ve digested shelves of books on the subject in a quest to learn the secrets of what makes a successful leader. What edge can I gain from studying the other guy’s achievements? How can I become the best-qualified for the leadership role I am seeking?
Leaders are crucial in any organization.
We’ve followed vision-less leaders who operated blissfully unaware of the challenges ahead and offered no organizational direction. We’ve likely voted for some in this category. The results were as expected.
Hopefully we’ve enjoyed the opposite experience of working with a natural leader who accomplished much but never lost sight of his followers. This leader managed the present while keeping an eye on the future, and we could trust him to steer the organization rightly.
The first book of Chronicles opens with a stream of names few readers can pronounce and many skip in their journey through the Bible. Those who roll up their sleeves and dig in find gems in the list such as the story of Jabez in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.
The description of the guys from the tribe of Issachar caught my attention, and I wanted to learn more about them. One verse introduces their story.
Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do, their chiefs were two hundred; and all their kinsmen were at their command.
1 Chronicles 12:32 NASB
The chiefs from Issachar are described to us as:
- Understanding the times
- Having knowledge of what Israel should do
- Willingly and confidently followed by their kinsmen
The context of that passage gives David’s backstory before he was a great king. We meet the mighty men who fought beside him. We discover people who risked their futures to put their support behind a shepherd. There was something about David that generated loyalty.
The chiefs from Issachar numbered two hundred yet they packed a wallop. Jewish writers describe them as experts in astrology, astronomy, and the physical sciences. Need to know when to plant your crops? Concerned about current events and the impact on next season’s harvest? Wondering about the best direction for the nation in a looming crisis? Consult with the chiefs from Issachar.
As a new king working to establish his administration, David needed solid advisors. King Saul, the previous ruler, left the kingdom divided, squabbling, and facing an uncertain future. David gathered men who would speak the truth and provide informed opinions. He had no need for groveling yes-men who misrepresented the facts to gain position.
Our leadership influence depends on our track record.
- Have we and do we continue to prove ourselves faithful to the boss and the organization?
- Do we handle with care the confidential information in our grasp?
- Does accuracy and soundness mark our decisions?
The group from Issachar understood David’s needs. They joined him then demonstrated that they were leaders with a clue.