King Leonidas (the famous Spartan leader of the "300" who defended Greece against the Persian invasion at Thermopylae) has got nothing on Abram who was called on by God to face an overwhelming and daunting assault by evil upon his family and region. This story sizzles. It reads like a Hollywood script but its biblical history is recorded for our benefit if we have the courage to apply it as a model and pattern of leadership put there by God. Without delay, let's roll the film and deconstruct some lessons that are powerful for us as pastors as we battle against evil in our cities.
The four evil kings seized all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah and all their food; then they went away. They also carried off Abram's nephew Lot and his possessions, since he was living in Sodom. When Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he called out the 318 trained men born in his own household and went in pursuit as far as Dan. During the night Abram divided his men to attack them and routed them, pursuing them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. He recovered all the goods and brought back his relative Lot and his possessions, together with the women and other people." Genesis 14:14-16 NIV
Abraham's reaction to the news that four evil leaders had ransacked his nephew's city, looted its goods, and enslaved its citizens is, by all accounts, Spartanesque. The bad guys had no idea Lot had an uncle who could rain thunder and strike with lightning force with a mere "318." A night time raid. A precision attack. A dominating physical performance. Wow. All men who love their families, love justice, and love against all odds love this one. Hoo-rah, Go Abraham! But could it be that this account is here for more than a biblical high-five?
More impressive is the untold but obvious story—of leadership.
A leader who hates injustice.
A leader with total command of his men.
A leader who had intentionally invested in and trained men.
A leader who is able to "call out" and his men suit up and show up.
A leader who raised up men "born of his own household."
A leader who knew how to skillfully deploy his men for victory.
A leader capable of responding at a moments notice with power and force.
The rest of the story does not disappoint either. The leader and his men "recovered and brought back" the captives. The leader is blessed by Melchizidek, King of Salem and priest of the Most High God (the priestly order of Jesus himself). The leader proceeds to unselfishly "accept nothing" for himself but turns over a hansom offer from a grateful King of Sodom to the men who served him. It is right after this demonstration of his leadership that God's man is rewarded, promised a son, and given a worldwide legacy. This episode was the tipping point in Abraham's journey. Abram becomes Abraham. The key that unlocks the whole progression?
"He called out the 318 trained men born in his own household."
That is the "resonator" all pastors and shepherds should take away from Abraham as it relates to their own communities of men (or lack thereof). He had muscle for this mission and that made him agile to the task. These men were a specially designated group of leaders known as "the 318." These "were trained men" which means they had been taken through a specific process for a very specific purpose—to serve Abraham's needs when called upon. These were also men he knew well, leaders raised up from his "own household." How many pastors have a designated community of men they can call on with such efficiency and economy? How many are thoughtfully bringing their men through an intentional process of leader development and deployment? How many have leadership engines like this coming out of our houses of worship? Pastors are sent to communities and cities to plant embassies of the Kingdom, act as a levy system and restrain evil. The "gates of hell" are not supposed to be prevailing where God's authority and family reside. Unfortunately, many of us who are sent to bring spiritual health are staring into a gigantic male leadership vacuum which guarantees one thing: suffering.
Your attitude about and investment in the men present in your ranks reflects the ability and agility of you and your men to bring justice directly into the social fabric of your congregation and community.
Satan wisely sees that men are leaders, influencers, and game changing assets in the Kingdom battle. He devotes massive resources to culturally lure, recruit and use men to execute his evil plans in the world. He even thought he could win over the Son of God. He plans, plots, and consistently seeks to control every man on earth's heart. Do you believe that? Generally speaking, the church, by contrast, unwisely sees men as the reserve players with a limited role in the big picture. It allocates little if any strategic resources to reach the unsaved man trapped in the chords of culture or to directly and meaningfully equip those who are saved in our ranks. The Devil has it down to a science.
But apparently he had nothing on God's leader Abraham. His thoughtful and intentional use of his men's energy (all volunteers) sets the early template in Scripture for how God's leaders can "get it done" when evil overwhelms, comes knocking, or lands a city in distress.
Kenny Luck is the founder of Every Man Ministries and the men's pastor at Saddleback Church. His 20th book – SLEEPING GIANT: No Movement of God without Men of God - is a blueprint for men's ministries, and was released through B&H Publishing. Watch and read more of Kenny's teaching here at EveryManMinistries.com.EXPLORE: "Media Vault" for related resources.