1. DESTRUCTIVE LEADERSHIP DISREGARDS THE COUNSEL OF THE WISE
When Israel came before Rehoboam at Shechem to make him king, the people asked Rehoboam to "lighten the burdensome service" that his father Solomon had placed upon them (I Kings 12:4). Having asked the people to depart and return in three days, Rehoboam consulted the elders who once stood before his father, but he ultimately disregarded their wise counsel. Instead of following the elders' advice to be a servant to the people of Israel, Rehoboam shopped around for a second opinion, consulting "the young men who had grown up with him"--a group who would most likely say what he wanted to hear (I Kings 12:6-11). When the people of Israel returned to Rehoboam, he "spoke to them according to the advice of the young men" and declared how he would increase the people's burden. As a result, ten tribes of Israel rejected Rehoboam, ushering in the period of history known as the Divided Kingdom by establishing Jeroboam as their leader (I Kings 12:12-20). Rehoboam failed to heed the counsel of the wise, and leaders today would do well to learn from Rehoboam's mistake. Let us never be so stubborn or full of pride that we neglect to listen to those who are wiser than we, and may all leaders turn to the source of all wisdom: God and His inspired word!
2. DESTRUCTIVE LEADERSHIP FEARS LOSING POWER AND WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES TO KEEP IT
Although Jeroboam was God's chosen to lead the Northern Kingdom (I Kings 11:29-37), he too exemplified destructive leadership qualities. Jeroboam became afraid that the people of his kingdom would return to follow Rehoboam if they went "up to offer sacrifices in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem" (I Kings 12:27). Additionally, Jeroboam was afraid that the people would kill him if they went back to follow Rehoboam. In order to maintain his power and his kingdom, Jeroboam "made two calves of gold, and said to the people, 'It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!' And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan" (I Kings 12:28,29). Note the commentary on Jeroboam's actions in verses 30 and 31: "Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi." Because of his fears and his desire to maintain power, Jeroboam led the people of the Northern Kingdom into idolatry and worship practices that were contrary to God's will--he led the Northern Kingdom to sin. Leaders today would do well to remember Jeroboam's mistake as he led the people to sin just so he could retain power. Every leader should realize that God is the supreme authority over all of creation (Psalm 22:28), and all men should tremble in reverence before Him. Any authority that man has is merely delegated authority (Rom. 13:1).
Friends, we have considered two characteristics of destructive leadership. Tomorrow, we will discuss three more characteristics, examining passages in III John, Genesis, and I Samuel. In the meantime, if you, in your role as a leader, find yourself struggling with the qualities we have discussed today, why not make it a point to start correcting these things now?