1 Samuel 11 what a good leader looks like

If you go into a book store or search on the internet for books on leadership you will see that there is so much written about being a leader. Seminars, Podcast and entire websites are dedicated to how to be a better leader. Leadership in the church is also a big deal to God and is addressed with Elders and Deacons. (See 1 Timothy 3)

1 Timothy 5:7 Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.

King Saul has a bad reputation  because he started disobeying God. What many people miss is that Saul  started off as King of Israel really well and did many things the right way.

Read 1 Samuel 11:1-11

1)   Good Leaders are humble

“Saul was coming from the field behind the Oxen” (vs5)

The newly elected King saw himself rightly at this time because there was no task that he was above. Even though he was the king, he also knew that there would be a transition for the Kingdom to be established and until then he still had family responsibilities to take care of.  We see this example set by Jesus as He set the example for His followers in John 13 when before He was going to die he washed their feet. Washing of feet was  a task that normally a servant would perform for the guest as they arrived. The way they ate meals would have required their feet being next to each other and next to the food. Washing of feet was a necessary task for them. Since no one was there to wash their feet the disciples just sat down to eat the meal. Jesus at that time began the process of washing their feet. Even though Jesus was God in the flesh, He showed all of us that no task is above the leader. It does not mean that Jesus was supposed to wash their feet every time; He was letting them know that to stay humbled and not above anyone is the key.

Philippians 2:3-8 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Good leaders are not above doing what needs to be done even when someone else should be doing the task.

2)   Good Leaders are concerned for others

Why are these people weeping?”  (5)

We just read in Philippians 2 that Jesus was humble but also put others first. Saul had concern for his neighbors who were in another town about forty two miles away. Saul could have easily not been concerned with their problem since it was not an issue that was directly affecting him.

Many people take the attitude of “It’s not my problem” instead of making things their problem for the sake of others.  When things do not immediately affect you it is easy to not worry or care about them but God calls us to love and care for our neighbor.

Matthew 22:36-40 Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

We have to constantly be heartbroken for other people’s brokenness if we want to be the leaders God is calling us to be.

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Are we so focused on our own needs and wants that we neglect to see the heartache and pain others are going through?

When is the last time you paused to reflect on how someone in the news feels?

When is the last time you paused to pray for those who have faced tragedy?

Have you ever considered how you might help someone in your area that may not even know you?

3)   Good Leaders are filled with the Spirit

“And the Spirit of God rushed upon Him” (6)

God can use anyone He wants because He is God. God made  Saul to be King because of the people who kept begging for God to give them a King instead of waiting for Gods timing.

There is a distinction between the spirit of God and the Spirit of the Lord in the Bible.  The only other time that it is mentioned that it was the Spirit of God and not the Spirit of the Lord was with Balaam who was a destroyer of Israel (Numbers 24:1; 31:16). Some believe that King Saul was used by God and that he was not a follower of God personally. Whether Saul was or was not a follower of God or if God just used him will not be known this side of Heaven. What we do know for sure is that every true follower of Christ is filled with the Spirit of God.

Acts 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

God always empowers you to do what He has called you to do. That does not mean it will be easy but if God is calling you to go then He will give you His spirit to accomplish exactly what He wants to accomplish through you.  Gods main goal is for the world is for them to hear about Jesus Christ. Although we have been blessed by God the blessings on this earth will never compare to the blessing of being in a right relationship with God through the work of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:11)

There are no magic prayers to make the Spirit of God do something because He is not a genie but by faith we trust that through His Spirit He will guide us and direct us to what we need to do.   We have to make sure that what we are doing is not in our own strength and wisdom but by the power of God.

One of the reasons you may be frustrated with a situation in life could simply be that you are trying to do everything by your power instead of by the power of God. Maybe you are doing some things that God has not asked you to do and so you are struggling because it was never His will for your life. You have to weigh out if you are struggling because God is growing you or because you are in a battle with the enemy. Not all struggling is bad and can be a result of following Gods call on your life. (Hebrews 10:35 -36; Ephesians 6)

Zechariah 4:6 Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

Whose power are you relying on? Whose Wisdom are you relying on?

Vs 8 says;  “then the dread of the Lord fell upon the people”

We are to pray to the Lord of the Harvest for the workers that we need to accomplish the work He has for us to do. (Matthew 9:38) Saul was relying on the Spirit of God and God is the one who sent the people Saul needed to accomplish the task God had for him.

4)   Good Leaders work with others

“300,000 of Israel and 30, 000 of Judah

If you are leading and no one is following then you are just taking a walk” John Maxwell.

In the past Israel had a hard time rallying everyone to join together (Judges 5:16-17; 8:1; 12:2-3; 21:5) Some believe the people remembered the punishment God gave to the people who would not follow Gods leader. What I know is there is no such thing as a self-made man and there is no such thing as victories achieved without help. The Apostle Paul’s advice in Ephesians 4:12 was simply that we are to work together to accomplish the mission of God. We are the body of Christ and when one part of the body does not believe they are meaningful the rest of the body suffers.

Saul was wise to include Samuel who was respected by everyone as a leader of Israel. Saul was not worried about the credit but only that the goal would be accomplished which was saving his neighbors from destruction and humiliation.

Because they worked together and Gods Spirit was with them  the battle was so victorious that no two Ammonites were left together.

Read 1 Samuel 11:12-15

5)   Good Leaders forgive their enemies

When Saul was made King some of the people did not follow his leadership and now some of the people wanted to punish them and make an example of them by killing them.  One of the best things you can do to those who do not believe in you is to prove them wrong by doing what you know God has called you to do. Saul not only forgave those who stood in opposition to him but it made everyone else know they could serve him faithfully without fear.

Colossians 3:12-13 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Saul had the right to destroy the lives of those who came against him but instead he forgave them. Imagine if you could destroy those who had hurt you. What would you do?

The apostle Paul would later say that it is better to be wronged (1 Corinthians 6:7) because to fight against each other would mean to already be defeated.

Saul knew, or God guided him, to bring unity to the nation which would go further than any retaliation could. If we are going to be the followers of Christ  we need to be then we have to forgive one another. We have to bear with one another which is a persecution term. To bear with others means to put up with their flaws even when it seems like torture for how they act.

At the end of the story they are shown sacrificing peace offerings to the Lord which meant they worshiped and ate together as one family. Eating a meal together was very intimate back then and this coming together to fellowship with each other was a big deal. Saul’s forgiveness had united a nation.

6)   Good Leaders give credit to God

The Lord has worked salvation in Israel (vs 13)

Saul’s focus was on God and how he won the victory for them. He knew it was by the Spirits power that came upon him and the people that allowed the victory to take place. Pride is one of the major downfalls of leaders. When success takes place it is easy for leaders to look at their plan and or their personality as the reason for the success they experienced.  Saul had a great strategy when he divided the army up into three divisions and he could have easily looked at his planning instead of giving God the glory.

“When leaders continually cloak the successes of their organization in terms of what they have done, they are inviting God to humble them. Leaders who fail to acknowledge God as the source of victory are leading people away from God and wrongfully causing their followers to misdirect their praise. Such leadership is contrary to biblical principles and will p9rove disastrous to churches, to businesses, and ultimately to nations.” Spiritual Leadership, pg. 232, Henry and Richard Blackaby

No matter what success you have in life you need to make sure you are giving the credit to God. People that are arrogant toward God need to take their warning from King Nebuchadnezzar who God humbled. (Daniel 4)

That does not mean you cannot be praised or praise others and we should encourage others but there is a difference between praising yourself and allowing others to praise you.

Proverbs 27:2 Let another praise you, and not your own mouth;  a stranger, and not your own lips.

Saul was praised that day but he did not praise himself only the Lord.



Good Leaders :

Are  Humble

  • Do you have to take credit for everything?
  • Do you have to constantly talk about your accomplishments so that you feel good about yourself?

Are Concerned for others

  • Do you see the needs of others or are you focused only on yourself?
  • When is the last time God put someone on your heart out of no where to help?

Are Filled with the Spirit of God

  • Are you a Christian?
  • Have you quenched the spirit of God in your life because of sin? (Ephesians 4:30)

Work with Others

  • Do you not work with others because they will not do it your way?
  • Christian ministry is tough because you want to serve God and to do so you have to love others but it is those very people who drive you away from working together because of how they act.
  • Bear with one another


  • Who in your life has hurt you?
  • Can you forgive them and then work with them again?
  • Forgive and forgetting are two different things.

Give credit to God

  • When is the last time you thanked God for all the success you have had?
  • When is the last time you looked at your business , your home, your health and whatever else and thanked Him for blessing you?
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