As Solomon grew older, he compromised greatly. As a result, God raised up Jeroboam to lead the northern tribes. A prophet of Yahweh tells Jeroboam that he will be king, and that Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, will only have one tribe, Judah.
Lesson One—God doesn’t need your help
After Solomon dies, Rehoboam succeeds him. I love what happens next. Jeroboam already had received the prophecy that he would lead the northern tribes. All he had to do was wait for the Lord to act. But still, he seeks peace. He goes to Rehoboam and seeks to make a deal. He pleads with the young king to lighten the load on the people, assuring him that they would serve him.
Just because you have a prophetic word from God doesn’t mean you should seek to bring it to pass. Let God do it. I believe that when David snuck up on Saul and cut off part of his robe, it was to show his men that he could take matters into his own hands whenever he wanted. But he then rebukes his men for wanting to touch God’s anointed.
Jeroboam actually is willing to sacrifice his opportunity to be king, hoping that Rehoboam will choose peace. He simply tells the king, “Lighten our load and we will serve you loyally.”
Lesson Two—Consult with Elders
Rehoboam consults with the elders as to what to do. They gave him great advice.
“If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.” (1 Kings 12:7)
They understood the lesson that Yeshua would spend three years trying to impart to his disciples (see video onYeshua’s Greatest Challenge). Leading means serving. When you serve those under your authority, it invites loyalty. When you lord it over them, it produces resentment.
Lesson Three—Avoid Nepotism
Rehoboam had a great opportunity to build a solid kingdom. But instead he goes to “his boys” or “his posse” to get their take.
But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?” (1 Kings 12: 8-9)
This is a huge mistake and is the result of his immaturity. What do “the young men who had grown up with him” know, compared with the elders?
Rehoboam spurned those who were qualified to advise him. It is human nature to want to have your friends and family with you, as you rise to power. We see this all the time. President Kennedy brought his brother Bobby. President Trump has Ivanka and Jarod. Ministry leaders often want to turn things over to their children. Oral Roberts. Kenneth Hagen. Jerry Falwell. Sometimes, this is absolutely the will of God. Other times, it is simply nepotism.
How do you know? Ask yourself…if this person were notrelated to the leader, would they be considered for the job? In the case of Rehoboam, the answer is obviously no. Just look at the results.
He takes their advice, which was to increase the load on the people, and it caused a great division in Israel. The kingdom was split into two. It is much better to have with you qualified coworkers, subordinates and advisors, than people whom you simply like having around.
Lesson Four—Finish Strong
After Jeroboam is given the kingdom by God, he relies on his own wisdom to keep the people with him. Why could he not simply rest in the fact that God had taken a former exile and made him King, according to the word of His prophet? The rest of the prophecy was that he would have a dynasty.
If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. (1 Kings 11:38)
But he got scared, thinking that when the people would go to Jerusalem to worship, they might return to Rehoboam. So he built two golden calves (of all things!) and put them in Dan, and told the people it would be much easier to worship God there.
“It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” (1 Kings 12:28)
I know exactly where this is! We take our tour groups near the border of Lebanon in the Tel Dan nature reserve. Jeroboam started out faithful and God rewarded him with favor and honor. But he did not finish strong! I know many believers who started with great zeal, only to end in defeat, addiction, adultery or worse. Anyone can start a marathon, but can you finish?
And that, my dear friends, are some leadership lessons from ancient Israel.