One of the most confounding things about the way God works is that He uses people. It’s a really messy and mysterious thing called leadership. We usually think of leaders as someone on a platform or in the White House. This is the edge of the chart we discussed last week.

But leadership happens on every level.

“Leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.” -John Maxwell

Leadership is how your very presence affects the people around you whether that’s positive or negative. Everyone has influence and everyone can lead. It starts in the center with leading ourselves well and works out into the other levels.

In Judges, we see that leadership is not going well. The tribe elders are failing; the people are failing. God reaches down to lift them up with judges, specifically Gideon. In Judges 6, Israel has once again turned from God and is under the oppression of the Midianites. Every year, the Midianites would come in and take all the crops and livestock from the Israelites.

The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Judges 6:11-12

This is the first time we meet Gideon, and God is speaking some powerful words over Him. Gideon is hiding from the Midianites. Fear, doubt, and hesitation are recurring themes in Gideon’s life. He begins by questioning.

The Lord turned to him and said, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian’s hand. Am I not sending you?” “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Judges 6: 14-15

God speaks a strong word and Gideon is immediately hesitant and has several excuses. We do this all the time. Often we see other people leading and think “I’m not (blank) enough.” We quickly jump to evaluating our own abilities.

“God does not ask your ability or inability. He asks your availability.” – Mary Kay

God looks at Gideon and says He does not care about his age, past, or status. The point isn’t Gideon and his successes. It’s God.

The Lord answered, “I will be with you, and you will strike down all the Midianites, leaving none alive.” Judges 6:16

Start where you are.

Whatever your hesitation is to step up, God says to go in the strength you have. There will never be a perfect time. You will never feel fully ready. If God calls you, He will equip you. He just may equip you as you go rather than before.

God’s first assignment to Gideon was to tear down an altar to idols in his father’s backyard. Gideon inherited the generational cycle of unfaithfulness to God. This is the compounding effect of decisions made before Gideon. Your decisions today will be the starting point for someone tomorrow.

Gideon said to God, “If you will save Israel by my hand as you have promised— look, I will place a wool fleece on the threshing floor. If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” Judges 6:36-37

Gideon is faithful and is tasked with driving out oppressors. Gideon comes again with doubt and testing multiple times. God is gracious and patient with him.

God can accomplish more with less.

Gideon’s army is camped out, but they are outnumbered 4:1. They are prepared to go into battle when God tells Gideon that He can work with less.

The Lord said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’ Judges 7:2

God removes all those who are fearful and brings the troop of 30,000 to 300.

The Lord said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” Judges 7:7

We are so metrics and numbers-driven in today’s culture. We have become spiritual risk assessors, but God is not bound by resources or probability. He defies all odds. Rather than 4:1, He goes 440:1.

“Watch me,” he told them. “Follow my lead. When I get to the edge of the camp, do exactly as I do. When I and all who are with me blow our trumpets, then from all around the camp blow yours and shout, ‘For the Lord and for Gideon.’” Judges 7:17-18

Success can become a snare.

When you experience success in influence and leadership, it can get ahold of your heart. The battle cry was for the Lord and for Gideon. That was all ego. Ego means Edging God Out. God provides and equips, but we are prone to claiming that success for ourselves. Gideon becomes vengeful and short-tempered when his pride gets hurt in Chapter 8. Vindictive reactions to others are a sure sign of ego.

Finishing well requires faithfulness to the end.

What Gideon does after battle and refusing the throne was gather all the gold and fashion an Ephod. This was a priestly garment worn by those who communicated with God and discovered the will of God.

Gideon made the gold into an ephod, which he placed in Ophrah, his town. All of Israel prostituted themselves by worshiping it there, and it became a snare to Gideon and his family. Judges 8:27

Even though Gideon said he did not want the position of king, he still wanted recognition and control. He goes on to name one of his sons Abimelech which means son of the king. This wasn’t just a snare for himself; it affected everyone around him and generations to come.

No sooner had Gideon died than the Israelites again prostituted themselves to the Baals. They set up Baal-Berith as their god and did not remember the Lord their God, who had rescued them from the hands of all their enemies on every side. Judges 8:33-34

Your leadership legacy will not depend on how you start but on how you finish. One of the most popular podcasts in the last year was about a massive implosion of ego in the church. One of the most popular documentaries on Hulu is about a church embroiled in deep generational scandal. Giftedness outpaced godliness. There was a gap between competency, charisma, and character. This leads to destruction now just as it did then.

Will we be faithful to do what God is calling us to do whenever and wherever we are?