March 4, 2009

Lessons From The First "300"-The Traps

As the story of Gideon begins to close we see some interesting things going on. As Gideon returns as the victorious leader of the army that has defeated the Midianites, the people actually want to make Gideon king over Israel. It's at this point that Gideon eludes that first trap that is set for him as a leader. It's the trap of power. Power & control can be intoxicating. Power can take a once purely motivated leader & twist him or her into a person that is unrecognizable. While the leader may strengthen his positional leadership, his true ability to lead has been compromised.

Although Gideon refuses to be made king, he does ask that he receive some of the spoils of the victory. He takes the gold & precious metals & jewels that were given to him, & he makes an ephod. FYI, that's a fancy name for some sort of structure that would be used as a sort of monument & in this case a monument to what God had done for His people. Sounds great huh? Gideon takes his spoils of war & transforms them into a monument of God's power & faithfulness to His people. Good stuff right? The only problem is that as time went on the Bible says that the people began to actually worship the ephod. The Bible says that even Gideon's family slipped back into the same spiritual adultery that they were in before God revealed Himself to Gideon. It was at this point that Gideon slipped up at the trap of idolatry. Idols don't have to be made out of metal or carved out of wood or stone. My experience is that my biggest idol stares back at me in the mirror everyday. Anything that threatens to usurp God's place as our object of worship & devotion is in danger of becoming our idol. The sad, ironic thing is that the very thing Gideon intended to be a monument of God's faithfulness & power became the very stumbling block back that led people away from God.

The final trap that was set for Gideon along his path is what I call the trap of investment. It's the temptation to neglect the need to invest in the future. Whether it's rooted in an arrogance that thinks we'll always be the leader & that we alone have the answers or whether it's simply rooted in ignorance to the need to invest in future leaders, this is the trap that can destroy an otherwise good leader. When Gideon dies, he leaves over 70 sons, any of whom could have been developed into a leader. The only problem is that none of them were invested in, & Gideon didn't invest in anyone else either. Therefore, there is no leadership & the people, as the Bible says, did what was right in their own eyes. In fact, one of Gideons sons actually rises up & kills the others in an attempt to become king. Pretty dysfunctional huh?

These three traps are common to all leaders. Power threatens to blind us to our need to grow. We think we can simply subdue & rule over our areas of leadership. Idolatry takes on infinite forms & creeps into our lives, often in surprising places. Investment is the key to long term success, yet it does not come naturally. We must make it a priority in our leadership. I believe that if we fail to invest in the leaders around us & the ones coming behind us, then ultimately we have failed to really lead.

What traps are on your path? What do you do to keep your eyes open for those places where the enemy wants to take you out?

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