Learning from Rehoboam: Leaders Lose when they don’t Listen

October 30, 2019

Rehoboam chose to listen and he did well. He chose the group to whom he would listen and chose wrongly. The choices he made led to an outcome for which he had no choice!

When all Israel saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king: “What share do we have in David, what part in Jesse’s son? To your tents, Israel! Look after your own house, David!” So all the Israelites went home. But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them. King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but the Israelites stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day (2 Chronicles 10:1-19).

Rehoboam’s choices brought loss to him as a leader. No leader would deliberately choose to lose. But leaders who choose to not listen are ultimately choosing to lose. Leaders choose to lose when they fail to listen. Servant leaders learn to listen well as they observe what Rehoboam lost.

Leaders lose influence when they don’t listen.

Rehoboam’s influence dissolved immediately as thousands of people “went home.” Yes, he was still on the throne, but he lost his ability to influence which is the essence of true leadership. The people talked of David’s house (Rehoboam’s blood line) as something they no longer had a part in. Rehoboam was still the king, but he was no longer their leader!

Servant leaders recognize that leadership is influence. If they lose the ability to influence others, their leadership is finished. Servant leaders listen well so they can continue to influence well.

Leaders lose authority when they don’t listen.

People turned away from Rehoboam’s leadership when they saw he wasn’t listening. Like many leaders who sense they are losing power, he tried to prove that he still had authority by sending Adoniram to force people to work. In the process he lost Adoniram and had to run for his own life! It was a visible demonstration of the authority he lost. Tough leaders, even dictators, can rule with power for some time. But when the people they are leading have enough, the people will become unmanageable.

Servant leaders don’t seek authority, but they earn it as they listen well.

Leaders lose people when they don’t listen.

Rehoboam’s refusal to listen caused him to lose most of the nation. He lost leaders, he lost priests, he lost farmers, he lost mothers and fathers. He lost people who could have been a part of his call to build the nation. But more than having the size of his kingdom significantly reduced, he lost all the potential good that could have come from a united kingdom.

God’s purposes for the nation were greatly hindered by Rehoboam’s actions. The nation would never recover. Never again would there be the worship that characterized David’s reign or the splendor of Solomon’s. The kings of the world would no longer come to learn from God’s people. That’s a high price to pay for refusing to listen!

Servant leaders seek to leverage maximum impact for the Kingdom of God with the largest number of people they can influence. They know that as they lead, they will lose some followers. But servant leaders listen well so they don’t lose any that should be on their team.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler

For further reflection and discussion:

  • In my leadership journey, was there a time that I did not listen well? What did I lose? What have I learned from that and what am I currently doing differently?
  • As a leader, who have I lost along the way? Did their leaving have anything to do with me failing to listen? What might I have done differently?
  • Are there people currently following me as a leader, but they have lost some confidence in my leadership because I have not listened well? What can I do to correct that?

Copyright, Global Disciples 2019.