Tag Archives: Judges 12

The Challenge of Leadership Change

Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then Jephthah the Gileadite died, and was buried in his town in Gilead.
Judges 12:7 (NRSV)

A leader sometimes needs time to find traction, and a quick succession of leaders creates difficulty for the team, or people, being led. I have observed this in different organizations from athletic teams to business to government and civic groups.

Take a step back and look at the list of Judges and the “year of rest” during their period of leadership so far:

Othniel (40)
Ehud (80)
Shamgar (?)
Deborah & Barak (40)
Gideon (40)
Tola (23)
Jair (22)
Jepthah (6)
Ibzan (7)
Elon (10)
Abdon (8)

The tenures of leadership are getting smaller. Unrest is growing, and it won’t be long before the people are crying out for a new form a government. All the city-states around them had strong central leadership in the form of a monarchy. Israel will be clamoring for that as well. God predicted this (Deut 17:14-15) and it will come to pass.

This morning I’m thinking about leadership and it’s relationship to the people and organizations under their influence. Time is required in developing a successful leadership and organizations. When there are rapid changes in leadership marked by short tenures, the organization struggles to find traction and constancy of purpose. The system learns to function on its own, believing/knowing that new leadership will not last and the chaos of change is futile. Dysfunction grows.

In an age in which changes in technology and culture are happening at a faster rate than any other time in history, I believe we will struggle. We will struggle the time required for the development of strong, capable leadership. We will struggle if/when leadership changes become more rapid.

God, help me to lead well, follow well, and adapt to unprecedented levels of change.

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Chapter-a-Day Judges 12

The men of Ephraim mustered their troops, crossed to Zaphon, and said to Jephthah, "Why did you go out to fight the Ammonites without letting us go with you? We're going to burn your house down on you!" Judges 12:1 (MSG)

Once upon a time, I pastored a church in a small rural town. In this church there were two men. One of the men had "his pew" in one back corner of the sanctuary. The other man had "his pew" in the opposite back corner. Each week they would come to church with their wives and go to "their pew" for worship.

I didn't think anything of this. One day, an elder of the church explained to me that these two men had a dispute over the placement of a property line. Arguments ensued. Bitterness followed. They never spoke to one another again, choosing to sit on opposite sides of the sanctuary to avoid seeing or speaking to one another.

I think of those two men from time to time and remind myself that life is too short to live in anger and hatred. Arguments are usually really stupid. This is especially true when men and their pride are involved, as with the Ephraimites and Gileadites in today's chapter. Why do we choose to hold on to bitterness and it's gnawing, destructive consequences than humble ourselves and seek the healing of reconciliation?