Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders … [and] consulted the young men… (1 Kings 12:6, 8).
As King Rehoboam ascended Israel’s throne, the people met with him to ask if there could be a change in policies. They stated that Rehoboam’s father, King Solomon, had worked them hard building God’s temple and Solomon’s palace. They asked for a bit of reprieve.
Rehoboam took this suggestion to both the elders who had consulted his father, as well as to his friends that were his own age.
Sometimes the older generation wants to stick with “the way we’ve always done things” because it appears tried and true; they are usually hesitant to make any changes.
Sometimes the younger generation wants to change nearly everything because they think there must be a better way; they are usually anxious to make changes.
So when the elders suggested a change from Solomon’s policies, Rehoboam should have taken notice. “This is not typical for the elders to suggest a change, so perhaps I should ponder this more closely.” For the young leaders to suggest a change was typical for their generation, so Rehoboam should have expected that.
Also notice that the elders’ advice was toward servant leadership, while the young men’s advice was toward more top-down, heavy-handed leadership. Although there is no record of either Rehoboam nor his advisers seeking God’s counsel, the elders’ advice is clearly more in line with God’s heart. God spoke through Moses about how He carried (or served) His people (Exodus 19:4), so a reprieve from hard labor would have been more God-honoring.
Sadly, Rehoboam rejected the advice of the elders, making the working conditions even harsher for the people of Israel. This terrible decision had disastrous consequences, as Israel was henceforth split into two nations: Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Rehoboam missed the cues from both the older and younger generations, as well as God’s own example, that could have preserved a united nation.
For our decision making today we have the additional example of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve others, and who gave us a similar servant-hearted command (Mark 10:45; John 13:12–17).
When God-fearing people are facing a key decision, here are three important things to consider:
- Are the seasoned, God-fearing elders advocating a change?
- Will this decision help me better serve the people I lead?
- Is this decision exemplifying Christ’s servant-leadership?
This is so important—I need a “YES” in all three boxes if I am going to move forward!
If any box is unchecked, I need to seriously re-evaluate making a change.