Judges 9-10; 1 Corinthians 10-11:1
There is quite a difference between being a leader who is loyal and one that is disloyal. I'm sure you've had bosses that were both great and not so great. Today, we read about a leader who was disloyal to God, his family and to the people he led. We also read the words of a famous leader, Paul, who looks to his example in Christ.
Abimelech was a terrible leader. He weasled his way into leadership and then proceeded to kill 70 of his half-brothers with his trouble-making soldiers. Abimelech's younger brother, Jotham, managed to escape the attacks and shares some words about leaders. It is about more than the power and reputation - it is about being loyal to your people and to God. A leader who is in it for themselves, such as Abimelech will be a crummy one. Because of Abimelech's insecurities and lack of faith, he killed off his brothers and was disloyal to the people he was supposed to be leading. As a result, he was killed by them in a violent way. Check your priorities as a leader. Are you in it for your own glory, or for God's and the good of the people you are in essence, serving?
The people of Israel themselves seemed to struggle staying loyal to God. Again, they had fallen away. Again, God had allowed oppression over them so they might learn their lesson. Again, the people ended up crying out to God when they realized they needed Him. As we read here, however, God was fed up with them, stating these facts of repeated offense to Him. I think many times we stop and ask God "why me?" In reality at times, however, we need to be open to what He is trying to tell us. Perhaps you are hitting your head on a wall over and over in disloyalty to God like the people of Israel. Look at your life and ask God, "what do you need to teach me, Lord?"
Paul's words as a leader to the church of Corinth are pretty well laid out in terms of loyalties to God and resisting temptations. He even uses the Israelites from long ago to prove his point. (Talk about a crummy reputation as grumblers, complainers, and falling into idolatry.) Paul tells the people to be careful when they think they are standing strong. Temptations and ways to fall away from Christ are lurking everywhere. Paul wants us to be a unified people in Christ, working toward building the Kingdom and resisting the things that take away from that mission. He tells us that in everything we do, do it all for the glory of God - even in what you eat and drink. This may seem daunting, but looking to leaders who look to the Lord to walk with you through this life can help.
Loyal leaders look to Christ. Paul tells the people to imitate him, just as he is imitated Christ. Leaders who value Christ in their lives will first and foremost lead you in the way of Christ. They want you to look to Him before looking at them. Paul is saying here, I am looking to Christ, and so should you. As a leader (because you all are one in some sense), are you directing those who look up to you to Christ, or are you beckoning them to look at you? Loyalties that lie in Christ are ones that can't be shaken.
A disloyal leader will have disloyal "followers". A loyal leader will have followers that want to support them. First and foremost, however, our loyalties are to lie in Christ, as we strive to be good leaders to those who look up to us. Check your life out today, and ask if you are like the Israelites, constantly hitting the wall, and wondering when God will show up. Ask yourself, "what are you trying to tell me, Lord?" Then pay attention to the answer He gives you - not the one you make up in your head that sounds ideal to you. Be loyal to His following and fall into His leadership over your life, so that you in turn can be a leader for Him.