A long time ago, in a land far away, there was this group of people. A big group. Thousands of people who lived together, worked together and ate together. A group of people who were reminded often of their history together and from where they came…
There once was a man named Abram. His name changed to Abraham. He had a wife who started out as Sarai and ended up as Sarah. And they had a son named Isaac. Their son grew up to get married and have children. Then those children had children. And so on. There were about 70 of them in the family, maybe more, and they all moved down to Egypt. God had promised, however, that they would return to that original land and that their family would be his chosen people group – the people who God would use to show everyone how much God loves people and wants to be in relationship with them. What a privilege!
This people group lived in this different faraway land for a long, long while. It was there that they got stuck and couldn’t get out. But God is God and he wasn’t going let his purposes be stopped. He had made a promise to Abraham that these people would be many and they would live in the land God had picked out for them. So, as God often does, he did something about it.
Go big or go home! We like to say that phrase was made up for sporting events or adventure races or risks that we take, but it was probably something that the Israelites said in wonder and laughter as they watched God put on the fireworks of all miracle displays as he rescued them from being in a bad situation. And go big, did he, with the intentions of taking them home.
But they were still far, far away from what would be their home and had some work to do. Over the next 40 years, they wandered and walked and wondered. God spoke, blessed, amazed, provided and disciplined. God molded and melded them into who he wanted them to be because he loved them so very much. Some didn’t make it. And it wasn’t always easy. But it was worth it.
In Deuteronomy 17 (a section of the Bible where this part of God’s story), we see the Israelites, hundreds of years after Abram’s time and thousands more multiplied, ready. They are ready to return to this land that was promised to them oh so long ago. So ready.
And as they are preparing, there are a few final instructions and reminders that God has for them. One of them is about leadership. During this 40-year journey, they have met many kings, and so God suggests that they might want a king. But it’s not just any king. It’s not like the other kings. There is only one job given to this person and a few reminders on how they should live.
“The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the Lord has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’ He must not take many wives, or his heart will be lead astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.”When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of the law, taken from that of the priests, who are the Levites. It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his brothers and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”
Um. OK. Be the king. Have all that responsibility, all that power, all that authority…but none of the perks? None of the executive privileges, yearly bonuses or luxuries? Um…OK? Sure. Just read God’s Word. And not just once. All the time. All the days.
What if that were the job description of our leaders? For us in whatever we do?What if abiding in God’s Word and making tangible, physical, literal choices to make ourselves be humble was our priority, how might things be different? How much extra grace and love and mercy might we have if we remember that, from our perspective, we are always the least important person in the room and that everyone else – no matter who it is – is the most important?