It is hard to be the son of a famous father. The pressure can be so much that it breaks not a few children of illustrious parents. But somebody can say the same of fathers. It is not easy for a parent who has accomplished much to view their children objectively. Some try to mold their children according to their image. They exert undue pressure on the former to live up to their expectations. This reality explains why it is not easy for a great leader to prepare his offspring to take over his position once he is gone.
The prophet-judge Samuel was one of the most outstanding leaders of the Bible. His name is on two major books of the Old Testament. He was the last of the judges, and he ushered in the era of the monarchy by anointing Israel’s first king, Saul, and its greatest king, David. From his youth serving the high priest Eli until his death, he lived an exemplary life.
Except in one thing. In Samuel’s old age, he was perhaps pondering who would succeed him as judge and prophet of the nation. In the only major blemish of his life, he appointed his sons Joel and Abijah to be judges (1 Samuel 8:1). There was only one problem—“his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice (1 Samuel 8:5). We do not know what kind of father Samuel was. But he surely did not know his children well. Or he chose to be blind to their shortcomings. He was a wise judge who misjudged his children.
The life of Samuel shows that all leaders have blind spots, especially for people close to them. This explains why succession planning is so tricky in a family-owned business. Ministry leaders may also fail to see their spouses or children's failings, which could cripple their effectiveness. How we need to pray for objectivity as we lead our people.
Like other leaders we have considered, Samuel was saved not because he was perfect, but by his faith in the coming Savior (Hebrews 11:32).
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