“And Gideon went down to the Jordan — he and the 300 men who were with him — exhausted yet in pursuit.”
And the chase continues. Gideon is not content to let the Ephriamites, who were fresh, take over the pursuit of Midian. Instead, Gideon would continue to rally the soldiers and lead the charge across the fords at Beth-Barah (see 7:24 above) and eventually even into Midianite territory (the Midianites lived in north-western Arabia). Good generals lead and that is exactly what Gideon does. And the 300 men that God chose followed along with him.
There is a very simple lesson about leadership that we find here in Gideon. Though we may feel exhausted, we must press on for God’s glory if we expect others to do the same. How often people in authority take a kind of “hands-off” approach to leadership…but that is not leadership at all. While a leader might not do every job that needs to be done, a leader should be willing to do any task, no matter how menial and no matter how many other things that are on our plate. Many years ago I used to manage stores for Domino’s Pizza. When I went into a new store or hired a new employee, one of the first things that I would tell my employees was that I did not expect anyone to work harder than me…but I work very hard. The simple fact that my employees knew that I was in the trenches with them did a world for morality — and for the productivity of the store!
As a pastor, that means being accessible to people, young and old, and taking seriously the things that my congregation considers to be important. But it also means things like being willing to take out the trash, plunge toilets, mow the parsonage lawn, or cook a homemade lunch for a midday service. All of these are simple things, but doing them conveys a message to folks that I am not “above them.” And even though I could rationalize letting someone else do any of these things because I have a full plate otherwise; doing them is simply a part of good leadership. It reminds people that I am not the boss (I’m not, our Church Council is the real boss), but a fellow servant (and yes, the Church Council also takes a very hands-on approach to leadership).
Gideon is wiped out and exhausted, but pushes on trusting that God will sustain him. Similarly, there will be times when we are physically exhausted and drained in our given roles in God’s Kingdom. Yet, God has called us to those roles and thus God will sustain us in them. My experience is that the further I find myself stretched “beyond myself” the more I see God’s hand at work to sustain me. This is God’s promise to all of his servants…to you as well as to me.