Pouring Ourselves Out

This week Vice-President Al Gore expressed sympathy for Malaysia's pro-democracy demonstrators—and set off a storm of controversy. Malaysian leaders angrily told reporters that Gore's comments were "disgusting" and "rude." Well, rude or not, Gore was right. He was echoing the principle of our own Declaration of Independence: Human rights are God-given. And the Malaysian leaders deserve a good rebuke. They have consistently used their positions for personal gain and power, putting themselves ahead of the interests of those they are supposed to be serving. When money from oil and manufacturing poured into Malaysia, its leaders had a choice: They could use the funds to build an economy that would benefit all Malaysians. Or, they could use the funds to line their own pockets and the pockets of their families and friends—something called "crony capitalism," a phenomenon seen only too frequently in the Third World. Malaysian leaders chose the second course, and their actions have brought Malaysia to the brink of economic ruin, and the people are rioting in the streets. And it's a perfect illustration of the wrong way to lead. Well, if lining your pockets is the wrong way, and it clearly is, what is the right way to lead? Where can we find examples of true leadership? One place we find them is in the Scriptures. One of my favorite stories is the tale of David when he was battling the Philistines. The Philistine soldiers had surrounded David and trapped him in the cave of Adullan, which had to be a very dry and arid place. David was desperately thirsty, and he said, "Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem." Well, three of his soldiers overheard him. They got up, broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem, and carried it back to David. But instead of drinking it, David dumped the water out on the ground. His men were astonished and probably outraged, but David said, "Far be it from me, O Lord, to do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?" David was saying, "Yes, I want that water badly, but I am not going to take it at the expense of the lives of my men." More than he wanted water, David wanted his men to know that he put their interests first, and that only the Lord was worthy of the sacrifice they had made. And so the water was poured out before the Lord. There is a long tradition in the military that when an officer takes his troops into the field, the officer makes certain, always, that his troops are fed first. That tradition follows right from the story I just told you. Leaders are to pour themselves out for those whom they serve. In the spiritual realm, they do so with the authority that God has given them to lead, by being utterly selfless. You and I must never forget this principle of leadership, whether we're leading Third World nations, worldwide ministries, or our own families. We must never abuse our positions of leadership in order to serve our own interests. Leadership is a holy trust to serve those we lead. Like David, and like our Lord, we lead by putting first the interests of those who follow us.


Chuck Colson


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