What do you do when the task is too big and you feel too small?
Solomon was twenty years old when he became king after his father David. I am sure you had large shoes to fill at some point in your life, but can you imagine how paralyzed he must have felt at certain points? As he began his service caring for God’s people, he was a complicated mixture of devotion. He loved the LORD but also made offerings toward idols (1 Ki. 3:3). If you think those two things contradict each other, you would be correct, but none of us make sense all the time.
He traveled to Gibeon, the site of the most significant pagan altar, to offer thousands of offerings to some god in order to get extra assistance in what God called him to do (1 Ki. 3:4). Instead of leaving Solomon in his idolatrous love triangle, God pursued him. He actually spoke to him in a dream. Asking Solomon what he could give him, the new king asked for wisdom above all else (1 Ki. 3:9). Obviously, he had seen his father’s impressive leadership and not lacked the best instruction that the nation had to offer. So, why would he request a discerning mind to govern the people above all else? Wisdom has one source – God.
Solomon was overwhelmed with two issues: 1) personal inadequacy, and 2) overwhelming responsibility. He thought the job was too big, and he was too small. That’s a far better perspective than thinking that he was too big and the job was too small. He was overwhelmed. God’s people were too big, too complex, too needy, and too important to mess up. And he felt like he was unprepared for the job. No matter how much learning he had accumulated, he needed more than what he had to lead God’s people.
He came to the right source. He asked, and God gave him all the wisdom he could need and then some. This request epitomizes what is encouraged by James when he wrote, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (Ja. 1:5). God doesn’t give us measly portions of his wisdom; He heaps it up upon our plates. He provides wisdom generously if we ask in faith.
After Solomon awakes from his dream, his course says it all. “Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants” (1 Ki. 3:15). He started in Gibeon and ended in Jerusalem. He gathered at the high places but lingered at the ark. He began alone yet ended accompanied by others. God’s wisdom was so apparent, it even changed his religious direction. If God could direct him this clearly, he was worth more than rivaled affection.
The narrative moves through chapter four which might feel like a boring list of leaders and processes, but it is there to give proof. God gave the wisdom that Solomon required. He didn’t have enough to lead a people who needed so much. So God gave him the wisdom to surround himself with the people required to address the needs among God’s people. With his organized approach of leading leaders who would care for the nation, “people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom” (1 Ki. 4:34).
- Are you overwhelmed by the task at hand? Good. It would be a shame to waste your life on small goals.
- Are you unimpressed by your personal abilities? Fantastic. It would be rather pathetic to accomplish things for which you would get the credit.
- Would you rather be a part of something so big that only God could receive the glory? That means you are on track to being a real leader – one who knows that he or she doesn’t have all the answers and needs help from the only one who can give it.
So have you asked God to work despite your weaknesses for accomplishments beyond your imagination?
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Distinctive Discipleship. He is married to Amanda and the father of two sons and one daughter. Travis graduated from North Greenville University with a B.A. in Christian Studies and earned his M.Div. and D.Min. from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, with his doctoral focus on family discipleship.