When I think of a biblical example of righteous anger, I typically think of Jesus clearing the temple of those who had turned a house of prayer into a place of business (Mark 11:15-17). Another example of righteous anger is recorded in 1 Samuel 11:6. When King Saul heard about an Ammonite siege on an Israelite town (see the “Getting Peoples’ Attention” blog), “the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger.” Notice how Saul became angry over the plight of his people after the Spirit came upon him. This kind of righteous anger can often stir us and others to courageously address an unjust situation. In Saul’s case, it led to the mustering of 330,000 soldiers and the defeat of the Ammonite invaders. What is a situation or cause that deserves our righteous anger today?
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Saul’s first recorded royal duty as the new king of Israel was to deal with the siege of Jabesh Gilead (1 Sam. 11). The residents of the city sought a peace treaty with the invading Ammonites. Nahash, the Ammonite commander, agreed. However, he had one condition – the Ammonites would gouge out the right eye of every inhabitant of the city. How did Saul respond to this outrageous proposal? “When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger” (1 Sam. 11:6). He promptly took a pair of oxen, cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout Israel with the message, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel” (v. 7).
In this case, Saul used a graphically illustrated threat to get peoples’ attention and mobilize them to take extraordinary action. Now, I wouldn’t recommend threats as a leadership tactic for motivating people. However, sometimes people need to be jolted out of a sense of complacency. Good leaders know how to inspire and incite, as appropriate! Not surprisingly, 330,000 men responded to Saul’s call and they soundly defeated the Ammonites.
Leaders often have their detractors (see my “Some People will Dislike You” blog), people who for one reason or another don’t believe in them. Even though Samuel had publicly declared that Saul was the new king of Israel, some doubted his abilities, at least until they witnessed Saul’s stunning victory over the Amalekites (1 Sam. 11:1-11). Saul proved his worth and the people confirmed him as their king (vv. 12-15). Sometimes, people need to see what we can do before they will wholeheartedly endorse our leadership. It’s a part of the credibility-building process. As Christian leaders, we want to increasingly demonstrate a Christ-like character (this is of paramount importance), but we also want to be competent in our leadership role (or at least growing in our competence). You can read more about what I consider are the seven key dimensions of Christian leadership in my article posted in the Resources section.