Dealing with Leadership Pressure
Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. “What have you done?” asked Samuel. Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD’s favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD’s command.” 1 Samuel 13:7-14 NIV
The situation for Saul was deteriorating rapidly. His troops were “quaking with fear.” His appointment with his mentor, Samuel, was delayed indefinitely. Some among his followers began to desert him. He needed to act – or so he thought. What to do with all this pressure? And so, he took matters into his own hands and decided to make an offering to the Lord and just as he finished his mentor arrived. Note Samuel’s question, “What have you done?”
Saul replies with an explanation of his reasoning for the decision to do something he knew was wrong. His three reasons were: 1) the men were deserting him, 2) Samuel was late in coming, and 3) he feared an attack without having God’s favor. Thus, he “felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.” He caved to the pressure of the moment and deliberately disobeyed the Word of God. It was a reasoned decision, not taken without forethought. But Samuel describes his decision as “a foolish thing… you have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you.”
No matter how well reasoned our actions, regardless of the pressure of the moment, we are to obey the Word of God and not give in to outside pressure or our own logic. Trust God and obey! He has your back!
Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. Isaiah 50:7 NIV