On more than one occasion during my teenage years my mother, all 100-lbs of her, would have to step between my hot-headed father and me until cooler heads prevailed. Mom was always the level-headed, even-tempered one in our family.
My mother’s actions that brought about peace in the family remind me of the Biblical account of Abigail recorded in 1 Samuel 25. There is much we can learn about leadership from mom and Abigail.
A Tense Confrontation
We are introduced to Abigail after a nasty confrontation between David’s men and her foolish husband, Nabal.
David and his army of 600 men had spent the year patrolling the area of Israel around where Nabal lived. They had protected Nabal’s servants, his sheep, and his crops. During harvest time, David sent 10-men off to Nabal to ask for an offering to help feed his men.
Nabal disrespected David’s men and arrogantly questioned their integrity as he refused their request and sent them away empty-handed.
David was furious when he learned of Nabal’s insults. He strapped on his sword, gathered his men, and headed off to kill all of Nabal’s household.
In the meantime, some of Nabal’s servants ran off to tell Abigail how Nabal had mistreated David’s men.
Abigail’s Wise Response
Without telling her husband, Abigail gathered up 200 loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five butchered sheep, a bushel of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. She headed off with her servants to meet David.
When Abigail saw David, she knelt at his feet and took responsibility for her husband’s foolishness. She asked David to accept her gifts and forgive them for the offense.
Abigail went on to praise David, saying the Lord would give him victory in his battles and he would not have remorse over shedding Nabal’s blood needlessly.
Abigail’s Leadership Lessons
There are many leadership lessons we can take away from Abigail’s interaction with David. Here are my top five:
1) Discernment. Abigail demonstrated discernment. She realized her husband had insulted David’s men and this had the potential to cause a drastic reaction from David.
Leadership Lesson. Effective leaders need a keen sense of discernment. Solomon prayed to God to give him discernment to lead the people (1 Kings 3:9). We should do the same!
2) Immediate Action. Abigail responded immediately when the news reached her. She assembled her offering to David and set out to meet him.
Leadership Lesson. There’s a time for thinking, and there is a time for action. When a crisis looms, leaders need to take immediate action. Many times in the Bible we see leaders praying for God’s guidance then taking action!
3) Humble Nature. When Abigail met David, she got off her donkey and humbled herself by kneeling before him.
Leadership Lesson. People in tense situations tend to go on the offensive to defend their positions. A leader who is humble will diffuse most situations.
4) Soft Answer. Abigail understood the power of Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” She asked David to accept her offering, and took responsibility for her husband’s bad behavior.
Leadership Lesson. The buck stops with you, the leader. Emotional responses are diffused when you take responsibility for the situation.
5) Wise Counsel. Abigail counseled David not to take harsh action against Nabal that he would regret later. She assured him the Lord would give him victory over his enemies and he would do great things for the people of Israel if he did not shed blood needlessly.
Leadership Lesson. Once tempers have cooled, people are more open to accepting wise counsel. Leaders, take this opportunity to give counsel that builds your people and strengthens your organization.
Not every crisis can be averted, but strong leaders practice these five leadership lessons. Rate yourself on your effectiveness in each area and pick one to work on over the next month.
Join the Conversation
As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of these five leadership lessons is most important to you? Why??
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Category: Relationships | Healthy Alliances