Summary: Samuel was one of the greatest and godliest leaders in the Bible. Understanding how his life developed is crucial to our understanding of how to grow and build relationships with future leaders.
“Building Quality Relationships: With Future Leaders”
1 Sam. 1:1-2:11
Pastor Leslie Weatherhead once said, “I meet a great many people who wish they had more influence in the world and think they don’t count for much. But if from your home there comes, because of what you have been and done, a good man or a good woman you will have done more for your nation, more for the true progress of mankind and more for God than many of those whose names are written on the scrolls of fame.”
He could well have been speaking to, and about, Hannah. Her son Samuel was one of the greatest, godliest leaders in the Bible. Understanding how his life developed is crucial to our understanding of how to grow and build relationships with future leaders. To put it in its simplest terms, Samuel’s life was a dedicated life; it was dedicated on at least three different fronts.
First, SAMUEL’S LIFE WAS DEDICATED PRE-BIRTH. His development as a leader started before he was born. Let’s set the stage in the book of Samuel. Every year the Israelites made a pilgrimage to Shiloh to make their sacrifices, atone for their sins, and worship God. Many of them traveled many miles through desert land and some, with no animals to ride, even walked the whole way. It was an event they dared not miss. The book of Samuel opens at such a time. And at Shiloh we meet a man named Elkanah and his family. And, to us at least, it’s an unusual family. He had two wives - the explanation for which would take another sermon. The focus here is on the fact that one wife, Peninnah, had born him many sons and daughters; his other wife, Hannah, was barren – she had been unable to bear children. So this time of year was always difficult for her as the meat from the sacrifices was cooked and handed out to the women in amounts based upon the number of children they had. Hannah’s one portion for herself was the painful reminder of her barrenness. And since a woman’s status was determined by and based on how much fruit came from her womb, it all reminded Hannah of her low standing among the people. Finally, Hannah’s misery and disappointment overwhelmed her. And that’s when God was ready to go to work. A family was ready.
And GOD MOST ALWAYS BEGINS WITH A FAMILY. Think about Abraham. He was chosen to be a blessing to the whole earth, but his vocation was to begin to take effect through his family. He was to teach his own household, who again would hand down the truth to their households. His being a blessing to the world depended on his being a blessing to his own home.
As a seminary student I preached one Sunday morning at a church on the east side of the state. Some months later the Dean of the seminary pulled me aside and asked if I had preached at that church at some time in the not too distant past. As I responded that I had I asked why he wanted to know. He lifted up a copy of the Temple Time (now Words of Hope) daily devotional and pointed to an article written by a member of that congregation. She made reference to a seminary student who had preached in her church and she commented that when she heard him she knew his parents had laid a great foundation; she said the job the student had done spoke as much about his parents as it did him. And she was right. I was blessed and prepared by being in a Christ-centered home. I was prepared for the ministry long before seminary – it began in my family. That’s where God often begins. That’s why our Baptismal Liturgy asks parents to train their children in Christ’s way by their example. That’s where God begins.
God begins in a family and also RESPONDS TO PRAYER. (10) “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord…remember me…and give (me) a son…” (19) “…and the Lord remembered her.” Hannah poured out her heart to God; she prayed from the depths of her soul – so much so that the priest thought she was drunk! We can almost hear her. “God, you blessed Sarah and Rebekah and Rachel with sons. You blessed Samson’s mother. God, bless me with a son.” It reminds me of George McCluskey. George and his wife started a family, and he decided to invest one hour a day in prayer for his children because he wanted them to follow Christ. After a time, he expanded his prayers to include his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Every day between 11 AM and noon, he prayed for the next three generations. As the years went by, his two daughters committed their lives to Christ and married men who went into full-time ministry. The two couples produced four girls and one boy. Each of the girls married a minister, and the boy became a pastor. The first two children born to this generation were both boys. Upon graduation from high school, the two cousins chose the same college and became roommates. During their sophomore year, one boy decided to go into the ministry. The other didn’t. He chose instead to pursue his interest in psychology. He earned his doctorate and eventually wrote books that became best sellers. He started a radio program that was heard on more than a thousand stations each day. The man’s name was James Dobson. (1) All this, through the prayers of one man: George McCluskey. What if George McCluskey had not prayed? Pray for your children and grandchildren. God responds to prayer.