Loving truth-tellers…

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Scripture: 1 Kings 22:15 When (the prophet Micaiah) had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” He answered him, “Go up and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.” 16 But the king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?” 17 Then Micaiah said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, like sheep that have no shepherd; and the LORD said, ‘These have no master; let each one go home in peace.’ ” 18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy anything favorable about me, but only disaster?”

Observation: Prophets in ancient times functioned as spokespersons for God, since God did not speak directly to the people. The problem was that the prophets didn’t always agree on what God was saying. In this case, over 400 prophets of God told King Ahab to go ahead and attack his enemy because the Lord would give him victory. This is, of course, what the king wanted to hear. But before he attacked, he consulted one last prophet – Micaiah.

Micaiah was known for his honesty with the king. He first repeated what the other prophets had said because he knew it would please the king. But when pressed by the king for the truth, Micaiah gave him a dire prediction of defeat – which is exactly what happened. King Ahab attacked and died. This story highlights for me an important aspect of leadership:

Application: The more senior you are in an organization, the more difficult it is to get the truth. Why? Because people will tell you what they think you want to hear. As leaders it’s important for us to understand this. If we’re not careful, we can end up in a bubble of “yes” people who shield us from difficult realities.

Over the years I have come to greatly value people who both love/support me AND are willing to tell me difficult things. Such persons are indispensable. As leaders we are wise to seek such persons out and keep them close by – even when we’d rather not.

Question: Who are the loving truth-tellers in your life? 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, the bible says we are to “speak the truth in love” with one another (Ephesians 4:15). Truth without love is hard to receive. Love without truth leaves us affirmed, but blind. Give us grace to be loving truth-tellers for others and to embrace loving truth-tellers in our own lives. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.

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