Read – 1 Samuel 7
Focus on verse 5-6
I have noticed, in my experience, that some of the best leaders I have known are those who have not been eager to step into positions of leadership. It is because of this reluctance, that we often end up with poor leadership, particularly at local civic levels. In several of the small communities in which I have had the opportunity to live and work, I have seen this unfortunate process occur. The men and women who have the character and skills to lead the community well, also have the wisdom to know that they would rather not deal with the political drama they know will be the result particularly if they lead with integrity. The result is that only those who enjoy being in the limelight but who have little integrity and no clue how to lead wisely allow their names to stand for local leadership positions.
In today’s reading we find Samuel earning the right to lead Israel. There is no election, no ceremony, no coronation, just one short sentence… “And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah.”
Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah. (v. 5-6)
No explanation was needed, everyone just seemed to understand that Samuel was a man they could follow and respect. He had apparently earned the right to lead.
Some leaders gain most of their authority purely from the position they hold. They may lack the character and even many of the skills required to lead, but because they have been assigned or elected to a position, they have “positional authority” over other people. There are also leaders who hold no official position, but the entire community respects them, and very little happens in that community without that leader giving his or her approval. These leaders have earned authority. They can be either very helpful, or a great hindrance to the positional leaders around them.
The best possible scenario, is when a person with earned authority, is elected to a position of leadership. This is essentially what we see happening to Samuel in this case. He had earned the respect of the elders of Israel, and at Mizpah they recognized his position as judge of Israel.