I blogged before about how David led where he was, long before he became king. I Chronicles 12 notes how he attracted followers at Ziklag and Hebron, many of them brave warriors who would serve with him long after he became king. But one group of men were singled out with a special gift: “men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.”

I think understanding the times is a rare and critical gift. If the leader himself doesn’t have that gift, he should add some men of Issachar to his leadership team. If we don’t understand the culture we’re working in and what our organization/church/business/country should do to take on the current and future realities, then we’re destined to extinction.

Mordecai was another biblical example who understood the times. He told Queen Esther, “who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.” This passage is an excellent, well-worn principle for contextual leadership, but I recently heard a video blog from The Mission Exchange that gave it a new wrinkle.

In the face of today’s economic recession, Steve Moore suggests that understanding the times might mean a good, long look at merging with another organization or even closing down. As Steve says,

We often quote the phrase from the story of Esther, “for such a time as this.” Is it possible “this time” has come and gone for some organizations?

I wonder how many organizations or programs are still running on the fumes of a great vision that was perfect for the time it was created, but has since run its course. Part of understanding the times is to recognize when an old strategy doesn’t apply anymore. Men of Issachar know what needs to be done and what does NOT need to be done anymore. The next step after knowing it is to demonstrate the courage necessary to shut down an initiative or organization that is no longer relevant today.

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