This is the third installment of a series of blogs on leadership. The first is ‘The Leadership Dilemma of Our Day’ and the second is ‘Saul vs. David’. I highly encourage you to read the first two before reading this one. As with any writing, context is vitally important to understand any author’s words.
All leadership will be attacked at some point and time. Corrupt, mediocre, and yes even good leadership will come under criticism and attack. It is imperative that good leaders are vigilant in discerning what is going on around them and that the people around them are equally vigilant in recognizing the attack of the enemy against their leaders.
No attack may be more deadly than those of an Absalom spirit. It is really no surprise to matured leaders when attacks from without are leveled against them. In fact, these assaults generally strengthen the leader and the churches they lead because everyone can see it is coming from the world. However, when a leader comes under attack by those closest to him, it causes great harm to the leader and even greater harm and confusion among the people. When a son attacks the father everyone wonders why?
Thus is the account of King David and his son, Absalom.
You may have the idea that an Absalom spirit is that church, ministry, or preacher across the street that you deem a ‘sheep stealer’. They are definitely out there and they have aggravated me through the years as well until I learned a sheep that can be stolen might be stolen again and again. This however is not a genuine Absalom spirit at work. Call it what you want, but it is not Absalom.
Absalom is not about taking people out. Absalom is about taking over and because the attack is so close in the ‘family’ circle it leaves everyone reeling in its aftermath. The questions are numerous and rightly so. Has our leader been secretly corrupt? How could God allow this if something wasn’t wrong? Is this just a changing of the guard or is something more sinister afoot? These are fair questions and they should be asked but they should never be used to rush to judgment in the situation.
• Absalom first becomes offended by the leader in some way. The leader has either made a genuine leadership error or Absalom perceives that he has been treated unfairly in some situation. The leader does not respond in the way Absalom believes they should. He then begins to give off negative attitudes concerning the leadership. Attitudes then turn into negative words with those who seem sympathetic. The seeds of rebellion are planted.
• Absalom then seeks to become even closer with the leader. This seems absurd yet it is the pattern. He begins to whine and cry to both the leader and others around the leader that he is being treated unfairly and should be allowed even deeper into the leadership circle. However, this is a trap so Absalom will look better before the people.
• Absalom then begins to build his coalition. He sits in places of authority when the leader isn’t around and tells the people that the leader doesn’t care as much as he does about them. He complains about the way the leader is leading and lets people know he should have more input. In short, he should be the leader instead.
• Absalom then goes for the ‘show’. Parading himself through town to let everyone know how much more spiritual or capable he is than the present leader. He wants to appear larger than life and far more important than what he is.
• Absalom then goes for the throat. He now has a following and he leads them in rebellion. David has no choice but to flee. Absalom then sleeps with all of David’s wives to prove he is now and has been accepted as king in David’s place.
…We all know the end result. A civil war breaks out. Absalom ends up being killed but the damage to David has been done and the nation is left devastated.
How do you stop Absalom?
First, look at the proven leader. The way they train people to spot a counterfeit dollar bill is by having them examine and handle hundreds of the genuine. When a counterfeit is presented in the mix, they immediately recognize it. King David was and always had been the real deal. Though far from perfect, he had a proven track record in both leading and making things right when he was wrong. Absalom was a counterfeit with no track record but rather a complaining ‘wanna be’. The people should have seen this and stopped him before he could do harm.
Second, look to the heart. Absalom’s was puffed up with pride. His mouth was filled with venom towards a man after God’s own heart. When you discern this in a person that is the last time you should give them your ear. When there is no following there can be no deception or insurrection.
Third, Absalom did not have the greater good of the kingdom in mind. He was wearing a mask of concern for the people to propagate his own take over. It was all about him. Don’t be fooled by those with ulterior motives whom the devil is using like a puppet on a string.
The question we must ask ourselves in these leadership dilemmas is, “Who has been God’s chosen leader up to that point?” “Who has God used more to release blessing to you through the seasons of your life?” “Why would God remove a proven leader through the rebellion of another?”
…The answer to the last question is, “He wouldn’t.”