the lilies of the field, they labor not, neither do they toil and yet Solomon
in all of his glory was not arrayed such as these!" -- Jesus of Nazareth
(quoted from NAS version Bible)
In the Old Testament of the Bible, King Solomon, son of
King David (who wrote most of the Psalms) demonstrates wisdom rarely seen among
today's leaders. Among Solomon's writing credits are most of the Proverbs,
Song of Solomon, and perhaps Ecclesiastes. Solomon ruled the kingdom of Israel
during the era of approximately 970 – 930 BCE.
He is credited in I Kings 4:30-34 with wisdom greater than Eastern
mystics and Egyptian scholars. He
wrote more than 1,000 songs (or poems), most of which are no longer available to
us. Solomon likely wrote Psalm 72
shortly after becoming King. While
the book of Proverbs contrasts wisdom with folly, Solomon reportedly spoke 3,000
proverbs, and various kings all over the earth sought out Solomon for his
knowledge. And Ecclesiastes
contains some of the strongest philosophical insights into the human condition
contained in the Bible. Any number
of these writings can serve as inspirational texts for anyone aspiring to
Regardless of one’s beliefs and religious practices,
Solomon’s ideas about how to build a kingdom form a relevant metaphor that we
can easily apply to society’s secular world. Today, special interest groups,
in the name of freedom of speech and plurality of all religions, are intent upon
corralling religion into certain religious centers and away from government,
business, and society. However, the path to building a kingdom, according
to Solomon, is quite different. No matter what religion a person may or
may not hold sacred, peeking behind the veil of knowledge possessed by Solomon
illuminates ways to lead during a time so desperate for true leadership.
With this in mind—and given that our use of the word God
refers to the mysterious forces or supreme spiritual being controlling the
universe—let’s examine the wisdom in Solomon's approach to building a
I. Align your self with
your God (higher power): "Now Solomon the
son of David established himself securely over his kingdom, and the Lord his God
was with him and exalted him greatly" (2 Chronicles 1:1). The first
key to building a kingdom is to connect to our universal source. It all
begins there. As seekers, we must not know so much what we seek; instead
we must know how to connect. For once we connect to God, we no longer feel
compelled to seek his mystery. We know the answers to previously
unanswered questions and we know the right action to take in given
circumstances. In this knowledge, we gain ultimate fulfillment, and if we
aspire to be great leaders, we must first be spiritually fulfilled. We
then will be in position to lead and will be rightly exalted to a position of
our own gifts. We read a few verses later that Solomon offered a thousand
burnt offerings before a bronze altar in front of the leaders of thousands and
hundreds of people. This was customary, yet Solomon made grand gestures to
God. It was this night that God appeared to Solomon and said to him, "Ask
what I shall give you."
God offers this question to EACH of us when we learn to
glorify him instead of our own egos. In other words, when we connect with
our universal power and trade our ego-based selfishness for a position of
integrity and doing right in God's eyes, we then enjoy the opportunity to ask
for the means to further our aspirations the most. If we are to build a
“kingdom,” we must have this power. The
saying, “Be careful what you ask for” has important meaning when we consider
the faith that we may RECEIVE what we ask for.
Solomon asked for wisdom and knowledge. In 2
Chronicles (1:10) Solomon asked God, in prayer, "Give me now wisdom and
knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people; for who can rule
this great people of Thine?" What did Solomon ask for? Glory?
Riches? Conquests? Lovers? Longevity? Fame?
No. He asked, humbly, for wisdom and knowledge. This is what leaders
must have in order to best build their kingdom.
God recognized Solomon's humility: a weak flower
bends in the wind, while the mighty tree falls from the storm. Our own
leaders today would learn from Solomon's request. Solomon did not approach
God from a position of ego; he approached God from a position of humility,
honor, and service. How might we serve the best? This is the first
question a leader must ask. In return for Solomon's eager desire to please
God with his simple request to gain wisdom and knowledge, that he might lead
God's people, Solomon receives wisdom and knowledge—as well as riches, wealth,
honor, and victory over enemies. The lesson in this is that God delivers
more than we ask for when we approach God from a position of humility, awe,
respect, and service. Yes, it is impossible to evaluate Solomon's approach
to building an empire without first recognizing Solomon's relationship to God.
While the current trend is to reject the endorsement of
religion in government and business institutions, it is important to recognize
that without our intuition (gut feel) few brilliant ideas would rise from our
leaders. And, intuition is a
spiritual process as much as intellectual.
I challenge companies to embrace their spirituality, to embrace God –
not that a religion needs to be endorsed, but a belief and alignment with
spiritual resources as much as physical resources.
II. Focus on
your primary mission. Solomon next
decided to build a temple for the name of the Lord, and a royal palace for
himself. This temple construction was a major undertaking.
Solomon then built a temple for the Lord, and a royal
palace for himself. Again, he kept his focus on how he might please God
with his actions. In our kingdoms of today, do businesses build first for
God or try to separate God from work? In our political structures of
today, do governments try to please God or try to separate church from state?
Solomon, in his wisdom, chose to honor God. Solomon recognized (2
Chronicles 2:6), "who is able to build a house for Him (God), for the
heavens and the highest heavens cannot contain him?"
This temple was small but impressive (http://phoenicia.org/temple.html).
For the full account of dimensions and materials Solomon gathered for the
temple, see 2 Chronicles 3 and I Kings 6 and 7.
Solomon’s temple, his primary mission, made other buildings look rather
pale in comparison, especially considering the walls were lined with gold.
This undertaking was considered quite industrious.
Solomon’s task force required twenty years to complete the mission.
III. Gather your internal resources and form trade. Solomon’s
mission of building a temple was monumental.
Israel did not have enough stone, gold, wood, or workers to begin work.
So Solomon gathered resources, formed trade, and bartered resources he
could spare for the resources he needed to complete the mission. In 2 Chronicles 1:14 – 17, we see how Solomon gathered his
resources and amassed an army of chariots and stationed them in cities. In
a leadership context, what resources are available to us? Solomon amassed
his horses and chariots from other countries, such as Egypt and Kue, then sold
many to other countries and built his own fleet of chariots by profiting from
the trade. If we build masses of resources, and then consolidate them in
hubs (cities), we can increase our influence throughout our kingdom.
In order to build the temple, Solomon needed wood and
stone. He approached Huram, King of Tyre, to barter wood and skilled workers for
barley, wheat, wine, and oil. He also needed workers, wood, gold, quarrymen,
ironworkers, and supervisors. Solomon checked the census and round he had
150,000+ laborers at his disposal. This would be equivalent to employing all of
the employees at Goldman Sachs, Cisco, Intel, and Starbucks combined for a
period of twenty years.
IV. Consolidate leadership within your kingdom.
Solomon lived during a period of strife, war, and backstabbing. Does this
sound familiar? Solomon quickly did away with two of his biggest opponents,
who had laid claim to the throne prior to David passing the mantle of leadership
to Solomon. One of Solomon’s
moves against an enemy of his father, David, was to give his enemy just enough
rope to hang himself. Solomon told Shimei, an enemy of King David and
threat to the throne, to build a house and not to depart from a general
territory near Jerusalem for any reason, or he would face certain death.
Shimei agreed to this arrangement. Three years later, however, Shimei's
servants left and went to Gath, and Shimei followed them (thus violating his
agreement). Keeping our agreements is important to building a kingdom,
whether in a leadership or subjugated position, and Solomon's rule dictated
prompt execution for Shimei.
This act consolidated Solomon's leadership and gave Solomon
absolute authority over his people. If there are people in your own
“kingdom” grasping for your power, you must either make them allies or send
them if you are to have absolute authority. Of course, within a democratic
system, it isn't always possible to execute our enemies (nor do we recommend
killing insubordinate business staff). So, the next step—forming
alliances—might resolve some of those challenges.
V. Form strategic alliances. Solomon made
strategic alliances with friendly kings and queens to increase resources, trade
routes, and power. Strategic alliances also increase cooperation and
eliminate competition. Why compete when we can cooperate? A New York
Times article posted at IBI’s website (see
IBI Global article by NY Times) cites recent studies on the value
of cooperation over competition. The
article indicates a cooperative business model creates higher feelings of
happiness and breeds more success, while a competitive model creates fear and
limits feelings of happiness.
Companies focusing on competition are, as I put it, living
by the sword. And, it's not a new expression that those who "live by
the sword, die by the sword." Instead of living by the sword, Solomon
The first significant alliance Solomon built was a marriage
alliance with Pharaoh of Egypt, when he took Pharaoh's daughter and brought her
to the city of David. This act gained resources from Egypt, opened a trade
route through Africa, and kept war with Egypt away from the kingdom.
Kingdoms grow more during peace than they do during war. More about this
union can be found at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14135b.htm.
The Cedars of Lebanon were well reputed at that time, and
Solomon needed them to build his temple and palace. Solomon understood the
power in alliances. Alone, we have limited skills and resources to succeed in
our objectives. However, partnered with others who have skills, resources,
and teamwork, we can achieve far more of our goals in much less time. So
Solomon made deals with the Lebanese King Hiram of Tyre, trading oil, wine,
barley, and wheat for woodsmen, metal workers, and various craftsmen, along with
Lebanese timber (1 Kings 4, 5).
Solomon continued to build and strengthen his kingdom over
the next twenty years. His most notable alliance was with Makeda, Queen of
Sheba (who ruled over Ethiopia during a time where Ethiopian power controlled
Africa during the era of 970 BCE).
In Solomon's day, Makeda's importance was trading through
the route known as the "Horn" of Africa. Egyptian hieroglyphic
records indicate that the Pharaohs obtained frankincense and myrrh from
Ethiopia, and from the Somali coast, as far back as 2700 BCE. In addition,
Ethiopia was a much larger kingdom in the days of Sheba, spanning from the Red
Sea to Zimbabwe.
Also, Makeda and Solomon had a sexual union, resulting in a
son named Menelek, the founder of Ethiopia's Solomonic dynasty. Menelek
later removed (stole) the Ark of the Covenant to his palace in Axum (today in
ruins). Unlike present leaderships, Solomon and Sheba forming a union was
not uncommon: Solomon had over 300 wives, often representing trade
agreements and treaties.
It is critical to have strong, open, powerful trading
routes in any kingdom, and Solomon was well aware of the resources surrounding
his kingdom. Opening flow of trade to obtain resources, skills, and
information from other kingdoms is critical to leading a successful kingdom. The
same applies in business today. If a company cannot trade, they fail.
This is also true with countries, as demonstrated by the recent fall of the
economy in Argentina. Cuba remains in a state of early 1960's economic
staleness as a result of the American embargo against Castro. I couldn't
help but notice the cars and economy in Havana as I watched the movie about the
"Buena Vista Social Club" society of Cuban musicians. It is quite
odd how Cuban production seems to have stopped in the 1950’s as a result of
the trade barriers imposed against Cuba.
Trade among kingdoms is vital to the kingdom's success.
And Sheba's trade route opened all of Africa to Solomon.
Finally, the alliance with Sheba reduced the odds of war
with Egypt, as Solomon undoubtedly knew from the alliance several hundred years
earlier between King Rameses II of Egypt and Queen Nefertari of Africa, which at
that time had ended a 100-year war between Egypt and Nubia.
Sheba was the most well known of the alliances, yet Solomon
reportedly formed alliances with the Arabian Kings, and many other neighboring
countries, which virtually guaranteed him peace and abundance during his rule.
VI. Safeguard your valuable assets. Solomon
then completed his building projects and furnished the temple. Solomon
needed a place to put the Ark of the Covenant with God, which was a vessel
Israel used in battle representing the power of God with their army, as well as
the official vessel containing the tablets representing the covenant between
Israel covenant and God, The
Ten Commandments. The lesson there is to keep your most
valuable resources safe.
In today's companies, the data center is often the key to
their success. Modern organizations protect their data through
sophisticated “data centers” that feature extensive air conditioning, fire
prevention and control, raised floor, and earthquake-proof facilities to protect
their valuable computers, storage, and data
Wise companies know how much money is lost from even on
hour of downtime. Solomon was no different. He protected his most
valuable assets. He also offered a prayer of dedication to God. I'm
not sure too many CEO's of companies dedicate their data center to God. If
the company is on a mission for adding value in the world and providing
"highest good" would not such a prayer be in order? What we have
instead are lies, misrepresentation, and CEO's who sell their company at the
first sign of trouble. It is noted in 2 Chronicles, 7:4-22 that Solomon
made quite a big deal about the sacrifices to God and God responded in
appreciation and also requested Solomon keep statutes and commandments and not
set other gods ahead of God. We often mistake riches, fame, and other
things as more important than God, but those things fade away, while God and the
gifts from God last forever.
VII. Rule wisely.
People came to Solomon with their concerns and he was well reputed for judging
fairly with them to administer justice. In I Kings 3:16-28 is detailed a
story of how Solomon ruled a dispute between two women who claimed the same son.
It important to build a kingdom through integrity, ruling in fairness, honesty,
and being true to our commitments. Solomon's reputation preceded him as
wise and fair with his constituency. How much do you want to wager that Solomon
also succeeded with others simply based upon this reputation, once it was
success. Solomon held a celebration
and dedication in honor of the completion of building the temple. AT the
ceremony, Solomon offered peace offerings to the Lord, and among those offerings
sacrificed over 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep.
It is written in I Kings 9:65 that the feast lasted fourteen days.
It keeps spirits high to celebrate our successes, and this feast was no
IX. Avoid extravagance.
Many of the dot-com CEOs can now attest to the folly of the lavish parties they
threw in honor of their public offerings, which drew them millions in cash but
left most worthless on paper after the crash. Solomon, unfortunately, fell
victim to extravagance, and in his latter years needed to cede property to Hiram
in order to pay remaining debts. However, Solomon was no different from
many kings of his day, who frequently erected buildings and monuments as symbols
of power. In the United States, are the Statue of Liberty, Empire State
Building, or the Sears Tower any different? In Paris, there is the Eiffel
Tower. In Egypt, the great pyramids, with Pharaoh’s face carved over the
eroded lion's head. This is a risk leaders run: letting ego get the
best of them by spending extravagantly on buildings and other powerful images
(advertisements on television, for example).
For further information on the temple, and its cost and
beauty, I recommend this link on Solomon (http://www.intournet.co.il/holyland/vol4-1-1.html). Creating something physically great, such as a building, especially a gold-lined
building, costs quite a bit of money. And that holds true today as much as
in Solomon's day. William Randolph Hearst spent millions building a castle
in an era where millions were worth billions in comparison to the dollar's
present value. This occurred just this century, so the concept remains
true. The cost to rebuild the World Trade Center is estimated in the
A lesson is to make sure we have the resources to complete
our objective, and be as extravagant as the occasion calls for. High costs
mean higher taxes, and taxes result in unhappy constituents. So, it is
important to maximize our cash and avoid extravagance or we risk losing
property, loyalty, and other good will. I recall a time when I drove onto the
campus of Ernest and Julio Gallo, the widely successful winemakers located in
Modesto, California. I'll never forget how they had numbered parking lots.
Ernest and Julio both parked in 1 and 2, of course. But what was surprising was
the cars these men drove. They didn't drive brand new Mercedes or Bentley
automobiles. Instead, they drove their twenty year-old Cadillac. I remember the
next time I visited, one of the brothers had upgraded his vehicle: to a JEEP.
Clearly, these are two men who understood the wisdom of avoiding extravagance.
X. Keep agreements. This might seem irrelevant, as so
many "leaders" today break their agreements almost as soon as they are
made. Yet, keeping agreements is the #1 key to building goodwill. How
good is your word? The
stock market holds companies accountable--for profit? Well, yes.
But, even profitable companies can have their stock damaged by simply missing
their FORECAST of profit. This is because the CEO forecasts, prior to each
earnings release, a report as to how many cents in profit the company expects to
make. If the CEO misses the forecast, just watch that stock get hammered
on the street. This is because Wall Street cares as much about the company’s
ability to forecast as it does actual performance.
The process is silly and confounding until it happens to your company or
a stock in your portfolio.
I recall a letter from my company's CEO, who promised (upon
selling the company I worked for at the time to a larger competitor) that he had
secured agreements from the new company that no offices would be shut down, no
factories closed, no lines of business discontinued, and no employees let go for
a period of two years. Two weeks later, I received a call from a different
manager telling me that I was the only employee left, from the CEO to me, in my
entire organization--the rest either left on their own or had been axed. How
eager was I to work for the new organization? I felt betrayed by the new
company's senior executives. They BROKE THEIR WORD and now I was supposed
to be excited to work for them? Yet, this happens frequently in corporations
every year. If there is one key to building a successful kingdom, keeping
agreements is probably the second most important next to honoring God through
Solomon received gifts in exchange for his wisdom (information). While Solomon
kept his agreements (and most specifically, his agreement with God), his
wealth became greater than all the kings of the
earth. Coincidentally, this is also where Solomon failed. It is detailed
in I Kings, Chapter 11 how King Solomon loved many foreign women. And, he
erected places of worship in honor of these relationships, many of which were
false gods and considered detestable idols. As a result of his broken vow (not
to put any idol above God), Solomon then dealt with many adversaries in the last
days of his rule.
In Ecclesiastes, the “teacher” (Solomon) takes the
reader through the search for meaning in life from hedonism, materialism,
intellectualism, and ultimately finding a lack of fulfillment from all of these
“meaningless” pursuits. When Solomon looks back upon his personal
journey, he acknowledges that his excess consumed him and in the end was
"meaningless." Yet, it is here that he recognizes the vanity of
so many of his efforts, and comments: "I know that there is nothing better
for them than to rejoice and to do good in one's lifetime; moreover, that every
man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor--it is the gift of God.
I know that everything God does will remain forever; there is nothing to add to
it and there is nothing to take from it, for God has so worked that men should
fear him." (Ecclesiastes 3:12-14). Solomon advises that there is
a time for everything, yet the true meaning for man is to find value and to
rejoice in his work. This is a basis of philosophical thought behind much
of my own writings and Life
Is it not better to live a life on purpose, passionate
about our mission, living and loving most in our actions, rather than to live a
life of a dead person -- walking the earth serving other people's whims?
In the end, Solomon reflected upon his worldly success and
came to a conclusion I have long felt indicative of a life well-lived: fearing
God in our youth, seeking wisdom, and yet enjoying our days while we are here to
enjoy them. Again, in Ecclesiastes 5:4, Solomon advises us to stand in awe of
God: "When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. He
has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow." Yes, keeping our
agreements matters very, very much.
Thus, there are many keys to building a kingdom.
To summarize, they are as follows:
I. Align leadership with God. By being in our
higher power we can do great things.
II. Focus on your primary mission.
Kingdoms without vision lack success.
internal resources and form open trade. Sharing is a key to success.
IV. Consolidate leadership and eliminate sources of
strife. Success breeds during peace.
V. Form strategic alliances to gain resources,
skills, and open trade routes.
VI. Safeguard your valuable assets. Keep the
most valuable assets of the kingdom in the most cherished of places.
VII. Rule wisely. Practice integrity in all
dealings. Offer wisdom for wealth or vice-versa.
Success. Keep morale high by
recognizing achievement of goals.
IX. Avoid extravagance. Spend what we need to
achieve objectives, but avoid lavish parties.
X. Keep your agreements. Broken agreements lead
to the demise of the kingdom.
We don't have to be religious to understand the spiritual
aspects of this study of King Solomon's approach to building a kingdom.
There are so many valuable lessons contained in the life of Solomon. He
taught how to build a peaceful empire, in honor of God. Solomon's name
means (peaceful) and (beloved of Yahweh). He was named from birth to be
loved by God and peaceful.
In a time where nations threaten war and challenge each
other over oil and religious issues, there is high relevance to Solomon's
skillful wisdom of building a peaceful kingdom. Why not use his formula
and build strong businesses, better government, and stronger organizations that
thrive through peaceful alliances to better the world at large within which we
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Andrews is CEO and Founder of AspireNow (www.AspireNow.com),
a leading business coaching and personal development firm based in
California. AspireNow recently spun our business solutions into ARRiiVE
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