Read 1 Kings 3:4-13, Ps. 119:9-14, Mark 6:30-34

“Give your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil…. It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this.” (1 Kings 3:5,9-10)

Like Saul, Solomon did not struggle or contend with anyone for the throne. Though he was not the most senior son, David trained him to be his successor. ‘Solomon’ is derived from the Hebrew word for peace (pronounced ‘shalom’). True to his name, Solomon enjoyed peace during his reign. Unlike David, who fought many wars, he never went to major battles. The only battle Solomon faced was the battle with self-discipline later in life. Today’s readings contain some vital leadership lessons from the beginning of Solomon’s reign and how Jesus handled the crowd that flocked to him when he wanted some rest.

1. Prayer is Key at Every New Beginning: Solomon started with prayer. You don’t need to be a leader (or occupy a position) to cultivate the prayer habit. However, at the beginning of any office, make sure your first task is prayer. Don’t be carried away by power, congratulatory messages, or excessive workload in your new office; dedicate the first day (or days) to prayer. Jesus applied this principle at the start of his ministry; he spent forty days praying and fasting alone in a desert.  

2. Begin Your Prayer with Thanksgiving: God, very pleased with Solomon’s burnt offering, visited him in a dream and told Solomon to request anything. In response, Solomon began by giving thanks to God for all that God did for David, his father, and for putting him on the throne. Learn to count your blessings. One who has not learnt to say ‘thank you’ lacks the right to ask for more. In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus taught us to praise God before asking for our daily bread.

3. Acknowledge Your Limitations: The secret of a good start is one’s ability to acknowledge their weaknesses. You did not get into that office because you are the best; you got there because God wanted you there. Many are far more qualified, experienced, richer and even holier than you. Solomon said: “I am but a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.” Pride led to Saul’s downfall, and humility saved David from almost losing the throne. Never assume you are better than your subjects. There is a little child in all of us; leave a space in your heart open to learning new things like children who are always excited to learn, explore and ask questions.

4. Pray for Discernment: Having acknowledged his weakness, Solomon asked for the ability to tell right from wrong. Discernment is the essence of leadership. The saying goes: “In the land of the blind, the one who can see is the leader.” Discernment is powerful; it comes with certain fruits such as riches, honour, long life and protection from enemies. Rather than pray for these fruits, let us learn to ask for the tree, the spirit of distinguishing evil from good. If Solomon’s prayer pleased God, it means certain prayers annoy God. Stop asking God to kill your enemies.

5. Put Yourself in Your Followers’ Shoes: One quality of exceptional leaders is empathy – understanding your followers’ pain, knowing what they want and need, listening to them and putting their concerns above your selfish interests. Jesus saw that the disciples needed rest (empathy) because they barely had time to eat. However, a crowd awaited them upon arriving at their resting point. Instead of getting angry (or sending them away), Jesus began to teach them many things. To be a leader, you must be willing to sacrifice for your children (your flocks, employees, followers, etc.)

Let us pray: Almighty, ever-living God, fill me with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. Through Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Saturday of week 4 in Ordinary Time. Bible Study: 1 Kings 3:4-13, Ps. 119:9-14, Mark 6:30-34).

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu