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5 Thoughts on Leadership from the Life of David

I read an interesting story from the life of the Biblical character of David again recently. The story says a great deal about leadership and what is required to lead successfully.

Here’s what I read:

When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” he inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?” The LORD answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines, and save Keilah. But David’s men said to him, “Here in Judah, we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces?” 1 Samuel 23:1-3

Notice David had a vision…a word from God. This was a bigger request than David, and his men probably felt incapable of doing it. They were still a young army. This was prior to David reigning as king. He had been anointed king by God but did not yet have the position. He was hiding from Saul. He didn’t have a king’s palace. He spent much of his time in a cave. This new assignment was scary, his army was questioning him, and the future was unknown.

Have you experienced a situation like this as a leader?

Thankfully, David’s story had a happy ending: (Imagine that…since God put him up to it.)

Once again, David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” 5 So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines, and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. 1 Samuel 23:4-5

This story prompts some thoughts on leadership:

1. We seldom get to rest for long – I told our staff recently, as we’ve rounded our fifth year as an explosive growing church plant, that there is no promise that there is coming a season of rest. The next five years are likely to be as wild as the last five years. In my experience, growing organizations are always changing, new challenges come often, and people frequently feel stretched. I might write more about this thought later, but that means we have to get better as individuals to face the difficult days to come.

2. Next steps are scary – If they weren’t, again, people wouldn’t need a leader. Next steps involve risk, require faith, and the future is an unknown.

3. Leaders lead – That’s what leaders do…they take people where they need to go, maybe even where they want to go, and sometimes, where they are hesitant, afraid, or may not yet be prepared to go. People don’t need a leader to stay where they are currently.

4. Big visions require faith – God doesn’t call us to that which is easy. He would receive no glory in us doing things we can naturally do…and seriously…What kind of a dream is it if it’s easily completed?

5. Victory won’t come unless we move forward – You can’t realize the rewards of a God-given vision until you take the required actions. Standing still is safer, but it doesn’t bring the satisfaction of a well-executed, bold move of faith.

What are you being called to these days that is bigger than you? Does any of this ring true for your organization or time in leadership?