Leading Your Armor Bearer
We tend to characterize great leaders as great strategists and great visionaries, as well we should. But in our efforts to emulate ideal leadership we should look no further than those who are being led. They are the best picture we have of how a leader leads. I suppose Captain Obvious could have come up with that but when I look around I wonder if we fail to recognize it as that simple.
In the camp realm we know that we are blessed with a number of fabulous resources needed to carry out our mission. The most obvious is the incredible piece of Creation that surrounds us. And, of course, there are our donors, volunteers, program features, business supporters and the list goes on. But when we look at those who serve in our camp ministry as the most critical resource that we have, we've added a perspective well worth our attention.
You know who I am talking about. Those with really weird ideas on things, those who have a tough time getting along with others, those who carry around a lot of personal baggage and drive you crazy from time to time - those people! And because the people in our organization can feel more like drains on our resources and distractions from our mission we sometimes fail to spend the time needed to maximize the best they have to offer. But when we do, we realize that they aren’t just a means to an end but become the very definition of who we are.
Jonathan is probably not the most likely “go to person” in Scripture when it comes to leadership examples. But there is an incredible story about him in 1 Samuel 14 that quietly brings out what it means to lead someone else.
Here is a quick synopsis. Jonathan (who wouldn’t be king) was best friends with David (who would be king) and the son of Saul (who was a real lousy king). Jonathan was a commander of men who valiantly fought Philistines in battles that were successful and unsuccessful, just and unjust. He also was a man who knew how to lead which was evident in this incredible story. You see, during a battle that wasn’t going so well Jonathan took his armor bearer aside and said basically, “Lets, just the two of us, go over to the Philistine outpost and take them on. Perhaps the Lord will help us”. Perhaps? And so, after seeking God’s will, they did just that (you gotta read this whole story!). The result was the two of them killed twenty Philistines - Jonathan taking care of those in front and his armor bearer those who came at them from behind. That day Israel had a great victory against overwhelming odds.
And what are the leadership lessons to learn? Jonathan brought his not-so-known armor bearer into the plan and did the deed together with him. He humbly, trusted a man whose job was simply to carry his armor and put not just the success of the mission in his hands but his life as well. And he demonstrated along the way that this insane venture (like all things) would only be successful if God was in it.
That same armor bearer most likely died with his leader, Jonathan, not many months later and we don’t even know his name. But the one line he says in this narrative says it all when it comes to leadership. “Do what you think is best. I’m with you completely, whatever you decide” (14:7 NLT).
We don’t just need people, we don’t just use people, train or disciple people (all good things). We realize that together with people we are what God wants us to be in accomplishing His purposes. And this includes the good and the challenging of it all.