Discernment of a Leader

Saul's sons were Jonathan, Ishvi and Malki-Shua. The name of his older daughter was Merab, and that of the younger was Michal. His wife's name was Ahinoam daughter of Ahimaaz. The name of the commander of Saul's army was Abner son of Ner, and Ner was Saul's uncle. Saul's father Kish and Abner's father Ner were sons of Abiel. All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service. 1 Samuel 14:49-52

Within these few verses we see a fair amount of nepotism going on. Nepotism is when a leader appoints or elevates a family member to a position of authority. It's closely related to favoritism (and the two can be intertwined). We've all seen it. The boss' kid gets favored treatment and immediately gets the Vice President slot so that he can learn the ropes before rising to the Presidency. Often it's implied that the son or daughter doesn't have the skills, but they have the family connections and that's what shot them to the top.

So, in today's reading, the commander of Saul's army was his cousin Abner. I don't know for sure, but Abner was probably put into his position by Saul himself after he assumed the throne. Based on what we've read, we don't know if Abner is a capable commander or a bureaucratic appointee.

But what was interesting to me about these few verses was that Saul noticed mighty or brave men and recruited them. He saw bravery and courage in men. Leaders must be good judge of people. They have to have great discernment because many people will try to seek to get favors from the man at the top.

Pray once again for your nation's leaders. Pray that they will have good discernment in choosing their "underlings." Pray also that those leaders will choose the best qualified person rather than who someone knows or whether he's the son of another leader.

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