Leaders Should be a Threat

“And he said to Zebach and to Tsalmunna, ‘Where are the men which you slew at Tabor?’ And they said, ‘They were just like you; each one resembled the son of the king.”

(Judges 8:18)

This little verse is filled with idioms that don’t translate well at least in literal word for word English. First is the use of “Where are the men…” Gideon is not so much as looking for the location of the bodies of his brothers who were slain, though this is likely what we would presume from the literal translation of the text. The word “where” can also refer to “what condition” or in “what state” were these men when you executed them. One might even ask, in more idiomatic English, “Why did you slay them?” This understanding makes more sense of the answer that the two kings offer…these men that they slew appeared to be kings — leaders of men, just like Gideon.

The second idiom that is awkward in English comes in the response of these two kings. Literally they respond: “Like you; like them.” This can be understood in connection of the language of the son of the king — another idiom that refers to one’s comportment or bearing — the confident air that one in leadership would embody. It was obvious to these kings that the men they slew were leaders amongst men, not followers.

The practical application to the church of this is how many church leaders really distinguish themselves as leaders…so much so that the pagans who are against Christianity see them as a threat? And here, I am not just talking about pastors…in fact, I am not primarily talking about pastors, but the leadership of the local church…the Elders, Deacons, and other leadership of the congregation. Sadly, I fear that it can be said of few of them that “like you; like them” or that they carry themselves as a son of the King in such a way that the enemy would be threatened by their work and character. People wonder why the church in America does not influence American life…a big part of it is because the leaders of the church do not live their lives in such a way as to influence American life.

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