and Lot: Yielding and Leadership
June 2001 by Asher Intrater
An important character quality we find in our father Abraham was his ability to yield his rights in order to prevent fighting. We see this quality of yielding in his interaction with Lot in chapter 13 of Genesis. His yielding made him a great leader and a man of covenant integrity, whom God could entrust with greater blessings. Abraham was the leader of a large congregation. We call it a tribe, but let us understand it for leadership training as a congregation. We are told that he had 318 trained warriors in his camp (Gen 14:14). This was after he and Lot had divided somewhat equally. So at the time of the argument with Lot there were up to twice that number. If we add elderly, women, and children, we come up with a substantial figure. Let us imagine a total group of around 3,000 people. So we could see Abraham as the head pastor of a congregation (tribe) of around 3,000. Let us also understand that Lot was the number two in command - perhaps a sort of assistant pastor, or the number two leader in the congregation. That number two spot is a spiritually delicate or dangerous one. The number one leader usually gets 90% of the honor as leader while the number two leader is often carrying 50% of the responsibility. He is usually younger, perhaps more energetic, and subconsciously may feel that he deserves a little larger cut of the credit or honor.
Let us also remember that the Bible says that Lot himself was a righteous man (II Peter 2:7). So apparently Lot saw himself not as a good number two man, but as an equal to Abraham himself. That is where the number two leader has to be wary not to fall into a trap of pride. ("Why I'm just as spiritual as he is!") So they started to argue. There was a division in the camp. This, the only congregation in the world of believers in the One True God, is about to be split (Gen. 13:6). Some of the sub-pastors were loyal to Lot and some to Abraham (v. 7). Abraham first appeals to Lot to end the argument (v. 8). He appeals to him on the basis that that are both part of the same kingdom purpose and "brothers" in the Lord. When that doesn't work, he appeals for a peaceable separation (v. 9).
This separation is not based on fairness, nor on justice. Abraham chooses to yield. He tells Lot to take the better part, the bigger part. "If you chose left, I'll go right. If you chose right, I'll go left." Although Abraham was the number one leader, he took the lower position. The greater the leader in the kingdom of God, the quicker he is willingly to let the other have preference. Lot and his men chose what they thought would best serve their own interests (v. 11).
But God saw it differently. The Bible tells us that after Lot separated from Abraham, and after Abraham yielded on his rights and property, God reappeared to Abraham and reaffirmed His covenant with him. In fact, God expanded Abraham's rights and blessings. Not only that, but in the following chapter, Lot's group is attacked, and Abraham has to mobilize all of his congregation to save Lot. Lot had not realized that part of the reason for him to stay submitted to Abraham was for Lot's own protection.
In the long run, Lot ended up losing almost everything. He turned down the number two leadership position under the father of faith of all believers, in order to be the number one leader of his own almost pointless ministry. What a shame! Abraham passed this leadership quality on to his son Isaac, who in turned yielded even his water wells to the Philistines (Gen. 26). Isaac yielded. God saw him as trustworthy and unselfish, and blessed him more and more. God's kind of leader looks for purity of heart more than possessions and positions. Anyone who wants to be a son of Abraham by faith should also receive this trait of yielding. In the end you will be blessed, and you will have the good of the kingdom of God at heart. Amen?
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