“He wouldn’t heed my advice.”
And for some reason, I didn’t have 100 red flags go off in my mind. I heard these words from a potential leader several years ago as he was lamenting his previous pastor’s lack of following this potential leader’s advice.
I should have shaken his hand, put my arm around him, and walked him to the door saying, “My brother, if that’s all it took for you to leave your church, you’ll leave this one too.”
But I didn’t.
In our text today, Ecclesiastes 10:4-7, King Solomon writes about this.
4 If a ruler’s anger rises against you, do not leave your post; calmness can lay great offenses to rest. 5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: 6 Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones. 7 I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves.
King Solomon, the great Teacher of Israel, muses over the problems of a ruler who is too “emotely controlled” (as in controlled by their emotions). When emotions govern a person, wisdom is usually what is pushed out to make room for the maelstrom of emotion raging inside a person.
If a ruler has a short fuse, they can get angry at those under their rule for offenses hardly deserving that level of harshness. This isn’t to say there’s no room for anger, but acting out of rage rarely has good results.
Likewise, a ruler can be persuaded by unwise voices and their own lack of wisdom only compounds it. As a result, the unqualified are given great authority while the most gifted and capable are demoted (verses 6-7). This also comes from someone too dominated by emotion. They take the questions and confidence of the wise as a challenge to their authority. They are insecure.
This isn’t wisdom. And it is dangerous.
Haven’t you seen that where you work, in government, or in your local church?
Aren’t there people who should be students who occupy the office of teacher? Followers who are put into positions of leadership? The foolish placed in authority over the wise?
This is Solomon’s observation and he decries its extreme stupidity in doing so. He actually calls it evil.
And this is why admitting this to you, my readers, is so difficult: I was the foolish (evil?) ruler. As a leader, I should have seen all the red flags in this man. I should have listened to the voice in my heart screaming, “NO!!!” when I said, “Yes.” I should have listened to the wise counsel of my wife who warned me.
But I didn’t.
You can probably figure out what happened next. I gave this person a position of authority in the church. He disagreed with one of my decisions early on. He voiced it to me. I rejected his counsel. And his last words to me were, “You didn’t heed my counsel. I can’t follow a leader who doesn’t seek the wisdom of others.”
And he and his family left.
The fallout was catastrophic.
And it was my fault.
Hear me, dear one in Jesus, the Lord gives us wisdom when we ask. But that’s only part of our battle. The other part is actually acting on that wisdom.
Pause before making that big decision. Pray. Seek wise counsel. Know the right thing. Do the right thing. And trust any fallout to the Lord.