When we think of Solomon, we typically think of wisdom…or perhaps many, many wives. But I do not believe that we often think about his leadership, and that is quite ironic. Solomon led Israel at its height, politically, economically, and militarily. He led Israel during their most peaceful period of history—ever. Therefore, while Solomon certainly had his flaws, straying from God due to the influence of his wives during the latter half of his reign only to come to his senses toward the end (reading Ecclesiastes as his work), he clearly had many strengths as a leader, and he exhibited these early on in his reign. In the account surrounding his request for wisdom provided in 2 Chronicles, the writer acknowledges a variety of these characteristics. He notes that Solomon began well because he was with God and God was with him (2 Chr. 1:1). He shows how he communicated to the people of the nation, beginning with the various leaders serving under him (2 Chr. 1:1). He records how Solomon journeyed to Gibeon, where the tabernacle and altar were, in order to offer a thousand burnt offerings (2 Chr. 1:3-6), an example of devotion and sacrifice that no one could ignore. He then tells of Solomon’s request for wisdom, a request that demonstrates a level of humility and focus on others that is sorely missing today in society today (2 Chr. 1:7-12). Finally, he summarizes how God then blessed him and all of Israel based on his behavior (2 Chr. 1:13-17). While all these traits prove worthy in any individual, they are invaluable in a leader.
Spiritual leaders today often begin with a solid record of service and a good heart as a Christian but fail to grasp how to extend this beyond a personal level to help those around them. Leadership requires faithfulness beyond the normal Christian. A spiritual leader must cling to God’s guidance not only for himself but for all he hopes to do for others (Jas. 4:8). Spiritual leadership demands communicating with the people, emphasizing Jesus and His message as the authority for all and explaining decisions, whether privately or publicly, from a spiritual and therefore biblical point of view (1 Tim. 3:2; Jas. 3:17). Spiritual leadership guides with the gentle presence of example as well as through the persuasion of instruction (1 Pet. 5:1-4). Spiritual leadership knows the difficulties and responsibilities of the role and humbly leans on God as one unworthy of the task instead of haughtily taking it as if he has earned the right. Spiritual leadership founded on these qualities will then secure blessings beyond measure for those whom they lead (Eph. 1:3). The benefits will not appear in so obvious a way as Israel observed in Solomon’s day—not, that is, until those who follow meet the Lord in heaven. But such leadership deserves honor and respect even upon the earth, for it reflects not only Solomon’s model early in His reign but also the Lord’s.