But David continued up the Mount of Olives weeping as he went.
2 Samuel 15:30
David wept over the rebellion of his son Absalom who had temporarily usurped his father’s throne. Sadder than losing his throne was the fact that he had lost his son. When Absalom was killed and his forces defeated, so great was David’s grief that he momentarily lost perspective that he had saved the lives of the rest of his children. Only through Joab’s speech (2 Sam 19:1-8) was David brought back to reality.
Gene Edwards in his classic book A Tale of Three Kings, shows the humility of David who responded to Absalom’s threat with more graciousness than Saul had to the growing popularity of David when he was a young man. Saul’s heart filled with jealousy and anger and he lashed out to try and kill David. Absalom also had set his heart on destroying his own father and the rest of his family. But David’s gracious attempt to deal with his adversary stands out in contrasts with the others.
In Toxic faith systems the leaders exercise very little graciousness toward others. They seek to dominate and anyone who challenges them challenges God, or so they will say. In some groups this is even the interpretation of family life, that the father rules as a tyrant over family and they are to simply obey unquestioningly. Whereas the Bible teaches that fathers are to be the head of their homes, it introduces the entire section in Ephesians with the words, “Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” (Eph. 5:21). The biblical pattern of leadership is “servant leadership” that submits to one another and seeks to serve others.
The one who would lead in the family of faith takes on the position of a servant, leading others for their good, not for his own good. In toxic faith systems the leader normally leads for his own benefit, not really for others. As parents and as leaders there will be times when the ones we are seeking to lead may disagree with us in our decisions – especially is this true when our children are young – but still the wise leader keeps a dialogue open with those he seeks to lead, hears their concerns, and seeks to bring them into the logic of his or her decisions. We lead not just by our words, but by our example, by our patience, and by being submissive ourselves to our followers, without violating our Christian consciences.
Lord, give us the courage to lead, but teach us to lead humbly and graciously. Teach us to listen to You and to be mutually submissive to one another for your sake. Amen.