It’s Leader’s week over at Kairos as it is here and uniquely God gave me the same message for both.
Obedience is better than sacrifice.
There is a vital leadership back story to this phrase. King Saul is given a mandate to take down the Amalekites and does though – except he does it his way. Against the instructions given to him, he decides to save the best sheep and oxen as a sacrifice to God. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, right? However, Prophet Samuel is sent by God to rebuke Saul for his rebellion. Saul defends his good intentions but Samuel is categorical when he says:
“Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
As in obedience to the voice of the Lord?
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice,
And to heed [is better] than the fat of rams.”
1 Samuel 15:22 AMPC
Why does God require obedience from us? Especially as leaders?
Is He a tyrannical dictator who must have His way at all costs?
Is there room for how we think or feel?
Is there room for our voice?
I do believe there’s room for discourse in my relationship with God. Obedience is first a factor of the heart (emotion) and mind (intellect) before it is of the will (action). I can take action in the name of obedience but if my heart is off, if my mind is off, my obedience is off. So being on the same page with God concerning His heart for my obedience matters.
But we must approach this discourse with the full awareness that we are not equal to God. And that’s where many of us miss it.
We’re trying to reason with God as though we’re on the same playing field when we’re not. His leadership and ours are not on equal planes. His ways are higher than ours. He is the Potter, we are the clay. He’s been around for eternity – He’s pretty much seen it ALL? How long have you been here again?
When you acknowledge you don’t know it all and hardly have it figured out, you’re able to come to God from a place of humility even while being honest with your questions. And the Bible spells out time and again, that humility – the accurate estimation of self – is the prerequisite to getting divine wisdom.
I don’t think obedience is just about do’s and don’ts. The first separation of woman from God happened in Eden; when Eve fell for the serpent’s scheming and ate of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
In actual sense the issue here wasn’t whether the fruit was to be eaten or not. No. It was whether Eve trusted God’s intentions for her and Adam. The serpent’s bait was simple – don’t you think God is withholding something good from you?
At the core of the choice to obey or not to is a question of trust. Do you trust the person issuing the instruction to obey? Can you count on them having your best interest at heart even when you’re not entirely sure about what they’re asking of you?
So a conversation with God concerning obedience moves beyond what you should or shouldn’t do, to how much do you really trust Him with your well-being? Do you truly believe He wants the best for you even when it’s not immediately apparent that that’s the case? Do you believe that He has your back as a leader, as a woman, and will not lead you astray in your decision making?
Just because we mean well doesn’t automatically mean we will be well or do well. Our good intentions cannot be a benchmark for trusting our intellect, emotions, instinct and experience more than we trust the leading of the Holt Spirit. It is folly to lean more on our understanding than we trust in God.
We must be wary of good intentions outside the will of God. Just because you think something is good doesn’t mean it is right. Saul meant well. But he expressly disobeyed God and there were dire consequences. By the time God is giving you a particular instruction, consider that He has factored in everything that you are aware of concerning a matter and everything that you have no comprehension of. He’s the best leadership advisor you could ever get and then some.
Our obedience as leaders is made far more weighty because the consequences of our choices will be felt not just by us but by those who we are under our cover. All these millennia later the script hasn’t changed. The serpent is still trying to convince us that God is holding out on us.
But the outcome can be different.
We can say no to his tricks. We can choose to put our hope in God. We can choose to say I will believe You until I can see it. We can taste what He has laid out for us knowing that we will find that the Lord is indeed good. We can unreservedly follow God with every fibre of being because of who He is to us – a Father who wants the very best for His children.
This is what it means to be a Godly leader.
Knowing that a good Father will never ask you for anything that is not good for you.
Accepting that you can never outdo God in meaning well for yourself and others.
Putting your obedience to Him above any sacrifice in the name of good intentions.
Trusting Him to make every path you take at His behest straight.