Paul McKaughan:

The young CEO was overwhelmed by his new job. It’s true he had watched his father run the family business for years, but old Dad hadn’t been much of a mentor. The man had been totally hands off with his family. All his considerable energy seemed to go into building the business and its brand. Now there was a huge vacuum this young guy had to fill.

The assumption by most of his father’s senior people had been that his elder brother would become the next CEO. The young guy’s appointment by the old man was a shock to most of the company’s senior leaders. It had not been a smooth or reassuring start. However, after a couple of decisive actions, at least no one doubted that he was in fact the CEO and that the family business was his to run. Now the weight of the whole operation was squarely on this young man’s shoulders, and he felt he was about to be squashed.

The one thing that his old man’s life had demonstrated was a love and respect for God. So when the pressure of everyone’s expectations and the suffocating weight of all his new responsibility hit him, this young man went to the best place he could think of for support. That was a very special place to worship his father’s God. After public worship and a huge offering, everyone else went back home, but the new CEO spent the night up on that mountain.

We find the Biblical story in I Kings 3. You know all the characters so very well. You also remember that the night after that impressive sacrifice became a night that totally rocked Solomon’s world. For the first time in his long life, Solomon had a direct and very personal encounter with Almighty God.

In a vision or dream, the Creator and Sustainer of the Universe tells young Solomon to ask for anything, and He, God, will give it to him. What an offer! We don’t know how long Solomon thought on his request. His reflection probably didn’t last a long time because of his feeling of inadequacy as he faced the new job. Solomon’s sense of need was palpable. The metaphor he used in responding to God portrays his feeling vividly. “I am like a little child that is lost and doesn’t know how to get in or out of my own house.” God’s offer to fulfill any request that Solomon would make was a challenge to Solomon’s faith, not his desire or sense of need.

Solomon’s request of God was for an “understanding heart” to judge His people. He wanted God to give him an “understanding heart” that would be able to discern between good and evil, right and wrong. Solomon knew he was asking for something supernatural.

I know you have noticed that most of the leadership decisions we have to make are not all that clear cut. There are those few black and white issues where only the courage to obey is needed. However, the majority of decisions we face are not black and white. We frequently don’t have a complete picture, and truth is illusive. We have to deal with a lot of messy gray. Making leadership judgment calls demands an “understanding heart” that hears the meaning hiding behind the voiced words. Making leadership judgment calls requires faith for dynamic listening to hear the quiet voice of God’s Spirit amid all the clamor and confusion. Taking obedient action requires faith in God’s gift of hearing that enables one to discern good and evil, or the good that often hides the very best. An “understanding heart” requires action, it demands faith-filled obedience.

The Scripture says that God was pleased with, and even got joy from, Solomon’s request. The Almighty gave Solomon not only what he asked for, in addition He made him the richest, the most everything ruler in the universe of his day. Centuries later we still reflect on the wise proverbs of a young king who knew what he needed to do his job.

A godly young king had the courage and faith to ask the Almighty for the thing leaders all need: an “understanding heart,” the kind of heart that leads God’s people with unswerving discernment. This is a heart that can make decisive judgment calls between the good and bad, the right and the wrong while working in a morass of competing “truths.” The awesome thing to me is that the very same God has given you and me a Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, Who even today walks beside, us and moment by moment, desires to grant to you and me  “understanding hearts” as we give leadership to His people. This is the gift that creates clarity amid confusion.

Your friend and fellow pilgrim, … Paul

via The Mission Exchange October Musing. Paul can be contacted directed at