Lousy Leaders

Have you ever seen a leader who you believed to be sincere and pure in heart and motive; yet around him there were one or more individuals in his leadership team whom you questioned?

When asking this, two very powerful examples come to mind; two of the greatest leaders in Israel – David and Jesus. Each made interesting choices in who would occupy their inner circle of leadership. Maybe next time, we’ll look at Jesus’ choice but let’s look at David’s today.

David had an interesting character in his inner circle. His name was Joab, a relative of David’s (not always wise to hire relatives!) who in time became the commander in chief of the armed forces. Joab was a man who knew how to get things done. Whatever task David gave him, he completed successfully. Yet, over time, it became evident that David and Joab had some significant differences in heart. There was one specific difference that stands out: Joab was a shameless self-promoter and David was not.

On specific occasions, Joab would do something and David would talk to him about it and say, “What do you and I have in common?” But, in spite of all this, David did not release Joab from his position.

Have you ever wondered why? Was it negligence on David’s part? Was it because it was his relative? Was it grace toward Joab-was it David knowing that this was a important time of God’s dealing in Joab?

Well, for whatever reason, Joab remained. Joab’s self-promotion never got better in spite of the grace extended – or did it?

David died and Solomon, his son took his place of leadership. But, before the transfer took place, Joab’s self-promotion caused him to act in direct violation of not just David’s command, but God’s. He joined forces with another self-promoter who was seeking leadership and this proved to be his fatal error.

But, we see something interesting at the end. It is time for the self-promotion to be dealt with. Solomon sends someone to execute judgment upon Joab. Joab runs to the altar and takes a hold of the horns and, when judgment comes, Joab says something interesting. He says, “Let me die right here with the altar in my hand”.

The altar that Joab grasped was the altar that David brought into the seat of his government. It was the altar David set up as the center of Israeli life. I wonder……if it hadn’t been for how David handled Joab: the grace he showed him….the focus David modeled for Joab-would Joab have ended up grasping the altar at the end or would he have died far away from it?

God loves misguided leaders and, like it or not, they have a part to play in the big picture. No, Joab could not avoid the final judgment for his decisions, but if it hadn’t been for David’s handling of Joab—would we have seen this act of contrition at the end?


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