THE PARABLE OF THE TREES 2: (Leadership Lessons From Abimelech)

(Continued from last post)

(1) Bramble Leaders Don’t Really Have Much To Offer – Except The Title.

Without the title of ‘King’, the fig tree was producing figs, the vine trees wine, and the olive tree oil. They were still being sought out – and a blessing to God and man.

The title did not define their productivity.

Compared to Tree Leaders, Bramble leaders have little to offer – or feel they have little to offer. Because they have not fully discovered or maximized their God-given potentials, they depend on titles to cover their inward deficiency.

All the leaders of Israel before Abimelech had been positioned by divine choice or personal accomplishments. In chronological order:

(1) Moses: We know his accomplishments – and we know he was selected by God.
(2) Joshua: We know his accomplishments – and we know he was selected by God.
(3) Othniel: Married Caleb’s daughter after he fought and won a city. After Joshua died, the Spirit of God came upon him – and he subdued the enemies until his death.
(4) Ehud: God raised him up and he killed the king of Moab who had oppressed Israel for 18 years – and subdued the enemies until his death.
(5) Shamgar: He delivered Israel and killed six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad (a stick for prodding animals along).
(6) Deborah: We know her accomplishments – and we know she was selected by God.
(7) Gideon: We know his accomplishments – and we know he was selected by God.
(8) Abimelech: … *crickets*

The only qualification Abimelech held to be appointed king was not by divine selection or personal accomplishments – but because he was ‘their brother.’

Bramble leaders have little to offer – except the title.

(2) Bramble Leaders Are Insecure – And, Therefore, Dangerous.

Really productive people (Tree leaders) are secure in who they are and what they do.

Bramble leaders are not.

The true biblical bramble tree used in this text is a thornbush that has little white flowers and is filled with strong, sharp prickles – or thorns. It has little edible fruit that people hardly pick because they grow in such thick, painful copses.

Bramble leaders have an inward sense of deficiency – a feeling that they are lacking or not as preferred as others. They are aware that there might be others more qualified and that they might not be first choice – unlike the fig, olive and vine trees – so, in their insecurity, they try to take out anything or anyone that might pose as a threat.

Because Abimelech was so insecure as the son of a concubine – and also because he had no qualification(s) like his predecessors – he killed all seventy brothers on one stone. Only Jotham escaped.

These days, bramble leaders don’t kill with physical weapons. Just like the stone was strategically placed, they use strategically placed words.

The sad thing about bramble leaders, like Abimelech, is that they have such potential to be great Tree leaders. When you read his story, you realize he was strong, determined, courageous and influential – but his insecurity, cruelty and inordinate ambition turned him into a Bramble leader.

(3) Bramble Leaders Desire To Bring Others Below Their Level.

Bramble leaders must always be ‘above’.

Because of their insecurity, they tend to dominate and subdue others to show their superiority – especially those more qualified/ more preferred.

The bramble told the trees, “If indeed you anoint me as king, come and take refuge in my shade.” (NKJV)
The Amplified Version reads, “…or take refuge in my shadow.” (Judges 9:15)

Pray, tell, what shade/shadow can a thorn bush give to a tree?!

When you compare the height of a tree to that of a bramble, it meant that the trees had to disregard their own abilities to shade themselves, and suffer great discomfort by bending all the way down to the bramble’s level – simply to affirm the leadership of an insecure leader who was not as qualified or as competent.

This bending can be in any form – mental, spiritual, social etc. Just ensure you are not ‘higher’ than the leader.

The Living Bible puts it better: “Come and humble yourselves beneath my shade.”

Bramble leaders must always dominate – and if they have to demote, humiliate, or make you uncomfortable to prove their superiority, so be it.

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(4) Bramble Leaders Can Destroy Cedar Trees.

The bramble said, “…If you refuse, let fire flame forth from me and destroy the great cedars of Lebanon!” (The Living Bible).

That, right there, is scary.

Cedars of Lebanon are usually called ‘The King Of Trees’.

They grow up to 120 feet tall(about 12-story building), and their branches spread out to about 50feet. These trees are known for their firmness because their roots are as deep as their height! (That is a whole different message.)

These trees were used mainly for temple and royal palaces because – unlike other trees – they were not consumed by worms or insects, they didn’t have knots, and didn’t decay with time.

Their location is on Mountain Lebanon, the highest point in the area – and high above all other trees.

The bramble trees are nowhere as high as these tree – but in their cruel pettiness, insecurities and desire for control, Bramble leaders can brutally destroy the ‘Cedars’ around them who refuse to bow, follow or conform.

Because they are unbendable, powerful and secure in themselves, these Cedars arouse so much insecurity in the Bramble leaders, that they use their ‘pull’ and ‘influence’ to annihilate them.

How do they do this?

Through words.

A word here. An innuendo here.
A little gossip here. An exaggeration there.
A tiny lie here. A blatant lie there – and the fire started by the tongue of these brambles spreads, expands and becomes a raging inferno that causes great destruction to these Cedars. (James 3:5&6).

Thankfully, the deep roots of these Cedars cause them to grow back up with time – but horrendous damage has already been done.

Bramble leaders can be so dangerous that whoever deals with them must put on an armor of iron and hold a spear because they cannot be taken with bare hands – or handled lightly. (2Samuel 23:6&7)

There are so many lessons to be learnt from this parable, but I will stop here.

So, which are you – Tree or Bramble?

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