Leadership Lessons from David
by Ayodeji Jeremiah
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It is important to pause in our lives from time to time and take a look at how we have fared. What were the things we were able to get right? What were those things we know we bungled? In which direction is our life heading? Are we making any headway or are we allowing the storms of life to drive us in any direction it pleases? What changes can we make in the New Year to make sure we donít repeat the mistakes of the past year? How can we become better people, better Christians, better husbands, better wives, better children, and better leaders and make sure we have better homes, better churches, better schools and a better world? David was described in the book of Acts as a man after Godís heart. For many who know of Davidís many sins and struggles with God that may come as a surprise. But when one follows his life carefully, the things he did and how he went about doing them, David was not a good leader, he was a great leader. He did not become a great leader by chance. He went through some processes. He made mistakes. He learnt from them. He moved on. He did not allow his mistakes to pull him down. He never considered himself a failure.
The story in 1 Samuel 30 happened at the twilight of Davidís sojourn in exile. For several years, he had been moving around in exile from place to place running from Saul. David had become Saulís nemesis ever since he returned from the battle with Goliath and the people sang his praises, ďSaul killed thousands but David has killed tens of thousands.Ē Notwithstanding the fact that David knew that Saul had been rejected by God as king over Israel and he anointed in his place, he never took advantage of any opportunity he had to kill Saul. (We should always respect Godís anointing over those who are leaders over us.) And he also knew that his time had not yet come to become king. Davidís time in exile was a period of preparation. And he was patient. A lot of us in life are in a hurry. It is one thing for us to know where we are going; it is another thing to know how we will get there. More importantly, we also have to be aware of the right times and seasons for our journey. What do we take along? Who do we allow to go with us? What are the lessons that God wants us to learn along the way? The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness because there were some lessons they had to learn. There were some leaders that had to be developed. There were some attitudes that had to be got rid of.
David during his sojourn in the wilderness was able to assemble what someone once referred to as a rag-tag army. That rag-tag army in the course of time became very powerful and feared in all Israel and its surrounding countries and environs. That army also later served to become the foundation on which he built Israelís army when he became king. The men who joined David were mainly despondent men. They were poor, jobless and persecuted men. They needed a leader. They needed someone to look up to. They needed someone to give them a direction in life. David was that man. Anytime David was passing through a territory and such men got to know of it, they simply followed him. They took their wives and children along. Over the course of time they became a large community and a small nation of people. Davidís army was made up of about 600 men. What did these men see in David that made them to follow him? They saw in David someone that they could relate with, someone they could talk with and someone they could trust. They did not just follow David blindly. He was able to communicate to these men his vision and where each and every one of them will fit in.
In the story in 1 Samuel 30: 1-31, the Amalekites (Israelís sworn enemies) had invaded Davidís camp in Ziklag and taken away all the women and children and all their properties. Ziklag was thereafter burnt down. David returned and saw the devastation. The Bible says he and his men lifted up their voice and wept until they had no more strength to weep. But what happened after that? Let us take a look at the series of events and what we can learn from them:
(1) David inquired of the Lord: David knew that something had to be done. He had an idea of what had to be done. But he needed to hear Godís word to know whether he should proceed or not. David called Abiathar the priest and asked him to bring the ephod. Before making any major decisions in our life, we need to hear the word of the Lord. What is God saying about that situation? There are several ways to inquire of the Lord. The Bible is our number one guiding light. If God has explicitly given an instruction in His Word about a particular situation then it would be a waste of time praying and hoping that maybe your pastor would give a contrary opinion. Godís words are clear over some things. Secondly we have the Holy Spirit, the inner witness of God in our hearts bearing witness to us. If you prayerfully and actively seek the counsel of the Holy Spirit, you will receive the divine guidance of the Spirit. Also God has put some godly and spiritual people around us from whom we can seek guidance. It is only when the guidance of our spiritual leaders contradicts that of the Word of God that we are free from such directions. That was what God did in the case of David after he had sinned with Bathsheba. God sent Nathan the prophet to him. God also puts us in certain situations that clearly indicate the direction we are to go. Busyness is the number one reason why we canít hear from Him. We must not be too busy not to take time out to hear from God. Every action you take on the basis of what God tells you to do will always work out in the long run.
(2) David had compassion and was helpful: Along the way to pursue the invaders, David and his men came across an Egyptian. He was tired, hungry and worn out. They could have passed by him and left him to die. But Davidís men gave him food to eat and water to drink and made him to rest. Luckily for them, this Egyptian knew who the invaders were and where they were heading. That shortened their journey considerably. They met the invaders where they were eating and drinking and making merry. You can never know who can be of help to you. In the story of Naaman the Syrian, we are not told the name of his wife or the name of her maid. But the Bible did say that Naaman was an honourable man, a man of valour (2 Kings 5). It was the maid from Israel who told Naamanís wife about Elisha the prophet. Now think about it for a minute; if Naaman or his wife were not nice people, if that maid had not been treated properly by them, if she did not feel that she was a part of their family, would she have bothered to tell them about a prophet who can help solve their problem. Definitely not. Never look down on anybody. Those you can help, help them. Those you canít help, dismiss them nicely. Give help unconditionally and not because you are going to get something from it. Donít ignore insignificant people. Donít belittle anyone. Donít take the people around you for granted.
(3) David was an outlet of blessing: After David had recovered all that were taken from him and his men and even much more than was taken, he distributed all the spoil to all the men including those that did not go with them to the war front. Verse 10 of our text tells us that 200 of Davidís men were so faint that they could not go with them to the battle. When they got back some of the other 400 men said those that remained behind should not be given anything except their wives and children. The Bible refers to them as base and wicked fellows (verse 22). David even sent part of the spoil to the elders of Judah and to his friends (verse 26). When God puts you in a position to give, give willingly, give cheerfully and give without reservations. Be a source of blessing to other people. It is not until you have millions that you can give to others. Start out of the little that you have. The Bible says it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Andrew Glasgow said ďWe make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.Ē There are two kinds of people in this world takers and givers. Givers have high self-esteem, a positive attitude and they serve society. As human beings we all have the need to receive and take. But a healthy personality with high self-esteem is one that not only has its need to take but also to give. When you give two things will surely happen in your life. First, you will always sleep well. Secondly, promotion must surely come. The purpose of prosperity in your life is to become a distribution channel. God wants your life to be profitable so that you can bless those around you.
Finally when you pursue that which you believe God has called you to do, there will be success. There will be restoration. There will be prosperity. You cannot however go it alone. You need some people alongside you who believe in your vision and who you can carry along with you. As you go along on the day to day journey of life the decisions you make on an everyday basis and your relationship with others will determine how far and how fast you go.
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