Abraham – 7 lessons on leadership

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Could not serve up just one small portion of this man. He just had to be milked for all he’s worth. Seriously, he was loaded. All his sheep, goats, cattle, silver, gold and slaves made him the biblical version of a billionaire. If you missed out on some of the previous lessons Abraham would have taught based on his personal experiences, catch up on them here.

1) TAKE RISKS
Whether in business or in your personal life, you have to be willing to step out of your comfort zone. Now it’s true that some people are risk-averse by nature or as a result of a traumatic event. But you can’t expect different results if you keep doing things the same way. And if it sounds too scary or too crazy, try packing up your family and your livelihood to a location you don’t know, with the directions being received en route.

2) KEEP YOUR WORD

A king and a foreigner – how unlikely a relationship. That the king should require the foreigner to promise not to deceive him or his family sounds even stranger, but it is just as true. Abraham was a man of such integrity, that even kings accepted his promises. When “by whatever means necessary” seems to be the standard modus operandi in today’s world, keeping your yeses and nos can actually take you the extra mile in your journey.

3) STAND UP FOR YOURSELF

Being a person of integrity does not mean being a doormat. Ain’t nobody got time for that. When King Abimelech’s (the same king from before) servants had seized one of Abraham’s wells, Abraham wasn’t having it. Instead of feeling bound by the promise that he made to Abimelech and giving him the upper hand just based solely on title or status, he spoke up. Furthermore, he virtually made the king sign an agreement to declare that the well did not belong to him; the equivalent back then was to give the other person seven lambs. Will you be assertive enough to give away seven of your lambs?

4) BE SHREWD

This might sound contradictory to being a person of integrity. But shrewd means wise and clever. And it’s just plain wrong to be a person of high moral standing and be an idiot simultaneously. So when Abraham was in Egypt, pretending that his wife was his sister was just the sensible thing to do, if he wanted to live. (Sarah was actually Abraham’s half sister though – weird.) In Barbados, we say “book sense ain’t common sense”. To navigate an often treacherous world requires a good head on your shoulders that can make quick, good decisions. A religious mentality isn’t going to do the job.

5) HOLD FAST TO YOUR VALUES

We all need values to keep us grounded, and to be that shortcut to help us make decisions automatically when faced with unforeseen or difficult decisions. That’s why even businesses have their core values. Family was something that Abraham stood for unmoveably. When Abraham believed in something, there was nothing you could do to change his mind. His steadfast belief in the son God promised him in his old age is more than enough proof. If you needed more though, he preferred to take the less desirable land and suffer loss in the quality of his animals, just so that he could preserve his relationship with his nephew Lot. Then, in heroic gesture , he and his allies went after a group of kings who had raided Sodom and Gomorrah, and took back Lot and his family, who were among the captured. It was because family was so important to Abraham, that he barely thought twice about deferring to him, or risking life and limb to go rescue him. People value lots of different things: family, faith, education, freedom, excellence. What do you value?

6) BE A GIVER

It’s not referred to as tithing yet, but Abraham, ever the pioneer, offered the first tithe in the Old Testament – a tenth of the loot he had recovered from the fight against the kings who had captured Lot – to Melchizedek the priest. Sure, Melchizedek had just pronounced a blessing over him, but there was nothing that mandated Abraham to give the priest anything. Similarly, our giving should not be mandatory, but should aleays be from a sincere place in our heart.

7) SEEK THE HOLY SPIRIT

Yes, yes…I know that this is still the Old Testament. But the hastiness of Sarah and Abraham is a lesson in what not to do. Holy Spirit didn’t interact directly with people back then, but he does in this present time. Therefore, when we want to take matters into our hands when things seem not to be going our way, let’s take a moment to ask for guidance, instead of letting our emotions get the better of us, and making an avoidable mistake. I bet Sarah wished she’d thought twice about letting Hagar have a son for her husband.

Abraham had a good head on his shoulders, and it served him very well. It got him riches, saved him from more than one sticky situation, and saw him revered as the father of a nation. Certainly a lifetime well spent.

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