I did a web search on the word leadership. In half a second the search engine returned 147,000,000 hits. Leadership is a popular topic, a position many seek. I’ve heard an abundance of anecdotes about leadership, read scores of books on the subject, and listened to leaders (and want-to-be leaders) describe the role and extoll the reasons they are qualified for the job.
Want to sell a book? Include the word leadership in the title. Someone will buy it. Want to attract attendees to a conference? Bring in a popular keynote speaker who can discuss leadership in a folksy manner.
Leaders are crucial. They give the rest of us a target for our criticisms and complaints, right? Seriously, we’ve all followed leaders who had no vision and no awareness of the challenges ahead. We’ve likely voted for some in this category. 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 with an eye on the future, and we could trust him to steer the organization rightly.
The book of I Chronicles opens with one of those passages many people skip—endless names few can pronounce or spell. There are gems to mine from those verses, though, like the story of Jabez (I Chronicles 4:9-10).
Or like the guys from the tribe of Issachar. Here’s what we know about them:
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.
I Chronicles 12:32 NASB
The chiefs from Issachar are described as:
- Understanding the times
- Having knowledge of what Israel should do
- Willingly followed by their kinsmen
The context gives us David’s backstory, before he was a great king. We’re introduced to the mighty men who fought beside him and made his reign possible. We discover the groups who risked their futures and put their support behind a shepherd. There was something about David that attracted loyal followers.
The smallest block of supporters came from Issachar, two hundred chiefs. And 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? Planning a festival and have concerns about the weather? Concerned about current events and the impact on next season’s harvest? Wondering about the best direction for the nation? Just ask them.
As a new king working to establish his administration, David needed solid advisors. The kingdom was divided, squabbling, and facing an uncertain future. He gathered men who would speak truth and provide informed opinions.
Leadership status depends a lot on our track record, proving ourselves, and handling with care the confidence our followers entrust to us. The group from Issachar understood that. They were leaders who had a clue.