To the brokenhearted Christians
coming out of authoritarian groups, seeking solace,
healing, and hope. May you somehow recover
and go on with him who is liberty.
And to all brokenhearted Christians:
May you be so utterly healed that you can still answer
the call of him who asks for all because he is all.
The book’s theme is simple. God used David’s suffering under King Saul to form his character. When David’s son tried to usurp the throne, David refused to become Saul-like. I can understand how appealing this sounds to those who have suffered under abusive leadership. The fact that this book is so popular is a sad testimony to the state of leadership in the church!
While there is deep value in suffering and God uses everything in our lives to develop our character, this book offers but one answer to the problem of Saulide leadership: “What, then, can you do? Very little. Perhaps nothing” (44). To the abused, this is a counsel of despair.
Edwards’ story presupposes an authoritarian type of leadership in which the leader, for good or for ill, is anointed of God and in place to call the shots. There’s nothing for the Davids of this world to do but to endure. While rebellion is never a good solution to poor leadership, mute endurance only enables the abuser.
Jesus has demonstrated and calls for a different type of leadership—servant leadership. Perhaps the model of King and servant isn’t the best metaphor for church leadership in light of the one who washed our feet.
Edwards, Gene. A Tale of Three Kings: A Study in Brokenness. Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 1992.