Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Have I not sent you?” So he said to Him, “O my Lord, how can I save Israel? Indeed my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” And the Lord said to him, “Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man.”– Judges 6: 14-16
Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of people who God selected to lead in the Bible were quite reluctant to do so? Moses complained that he was slow of speech. Jeremiah protested that he was too young. Esther explained that it was not her turn to see the king. Isaiah confessed that he was a man of unclean lips. Jonah just ran the other way. One of the few exceptions to this might have been David who probably could have been given a pass because he was too young to know or care just how big Goliath was when he volunteered to fight him.
The point is that Gideon stood in a long line of would be leaders who didn’t want to be. Nevertheless, he decided to lead. The telling of his story begins in Judges 6 where it is explained that Israel had been under the oppressive thumb of the Midianites for several years. Ultimately, God heard the cries of His people for relief and sent an Angel to inform Gideon that he had been chosen to lead Israel in throwing off this unbearable yoke.
When the Angel appeared to Gideon, he was threshing wheat in a cave, hiding so that the Midianites could not steal his increase. Gideon was shocked to learn that he had been chosen by the Lord and yet, he decided to lead anyhow because…
He was considered. The angel met Gideon for the first time and addressed him as a mighty man of valor. Gideon thought he was talking to and about someone else. That is because he did not see himself as such. However, the key is that even if he did not see himself that way, the Lord considered him to be a mighty man of valor. God often sees things in us we don’t see in ourselves and that’s why He considers us.
He was called. Gideon was not only considered by God. He was called by God to lead. This was not some inner urge to be in front. He was not acting out a drum major instinct. He heard a voice from God calling him and charging him to lead. Leaders who lead without a deep sense of divine calling, usually don’t lead for long.
He was convinced. Even after his calling, Gideon put the Lord to the test. He laid a lamb’s fleece on the ground and asked the Angel to make the ground dry and the fleece wet overnight. When the Lord did this, Gideon put the Angel to the test again and asked that this time the fleece would be dry and the ground wet overnight. When the Lord passed the second test, Gideon was convinced that it was the Lord calling him to lead. Leaders cannot afford to wait until they get in the heat of battle to be convinced that they should lead. This is something they should know before the battle begins.
He was courageous. Gideon had to be courageous because his army of three hundred was outnumbered one hundred to one. He accepted the Lord’s call. He was convinced of his victory. He led his men into triumph over their enemy. That day and many years hence, Israel lived in peace because one man decided to lead. How many of God’s people are still under oppression today because no one has decided to lead?