Tuesday, January 4, 2011

leadership in the rough

Now the angel of the LORD came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him and said to him, "The LORD is with you, O mighty man of valor."
Judges 6:11-12

God is going to chisel away at Gideon and make him the leader He wants him to be. I have always found it funny that God called Gideon a "mighty man of valor" when He met him hiding out from the Midianites. These hardly seems to be a brave man at the moment. Like the rest of Israel, he is in survival mode, just trying to fly under the radar of Midianite oppression. But God sees something more.

Israel has begun a return to God after seven years of this experience. The text says that they had cried out to God (even though later in the text they seem to have hedged their bets with Baal and Asherah as well) and God heard them. He sent a prophet to prepare them for their deliverance as they acknowledged their sin. Now, Gideon was being prepared to lead the military campaign that would deliver the nation.

Gideon is a man full of uncertainties. He knows he has talked to God and eventually is very afraid at the significance of that. But then he confirms God's call on him not once, but twice, as if he struggled to really believe that God had spoke to him at the sacrificial altar. He does become a much more confident leader than Barak was under Deborah. But he still has much growth to achieve before the battle can be waged.

God chooses to use frail men. And God would whittle away at Gideon's confidence still more until his capacity to trust would be ready to be used by God. In the end, it will be very clear that God answered Israel's cry for help. Gideon would be a leader whose very leadership experience would be defined and known as God's work, not his own. And this insecure wheat-thresher was about to find this all out. How great of God to use us in all our insecurities, faith weaknesses, and slowness to believe! God finds people "in the rough" and chisels at them until they become someone who clearly had a work of God done in, through, and by them.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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