There is only one Jesus…but God has given us some marvelous examples in the lives of godly people.
Each has failed.
But, each can teach us some really great stuff. King David is one of those. You will see his name in my writings quite a lot because he provides examples of failure, humility, and good leadership.
There is no sugar-coating David any more than anyone else found in the pages of scripture:
Sounds familier. But, he was also a learner. See what he learned:
The God of Israel has spoken;
the Rock of Israel has said to me:
When one rules justly over men,
ruling in the fear of God,
he dawns on them like the morning light,
like the sun shining forth on a cloudless morning,
like rain that makes grass to sprout from the earth.
[David’s song in 2 Samuel 23:3-4 (ESV)]
Oh, that all leaders in this broken world had this view.
The way you, as a leader, are going to be welcomed like a beautiful morning by your subordinates is by being controlled by Christ. Do you want them to brighten as you walk into your office in the morning? They will only if you fear God.
God has not given us leadership to rule by intimidation, but to be just. We do not have authority to trounce or bounce (as Tigger) on those who work under our authority.
Just and fearing God means:
- I recognize my own sin first and foremost: Matthew 7:1-5
- I do not expect more from my subordinates than God has given them ability to do.
- If I want them to do more or better, I mentor them in such a way as to help them do more or better.
- I do not intimidate.
- I do not threaten.
- I pay them a just, maybe even overly generous, wage.
- I provide necessary care for their family…whether it be medical or spiritual or economical.
- And every time I fail at these and other principles of good leadership, I admit it and I seek forgiveness from God and from those I failed.
Because you will fail.
David faced the typical leadership problems and he failed. His own son, Absalom, rebelled against him. But, his followers were loyal in ways that can only be explained by him being a man after God’s own heart.
A beautiful story is told in 2nd Samuel:
And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the Lord and said, “Far be it from me, O Lord, that I should do this. Shall I drink the blood of the men who went at the risk of their lives?” Therefore he would not drink it. These things the three mighty men did.
[2 Samuel 23:15-17 (ESV)]
We might think David slapped his men in the face by refusing to drink the water. But, the whole story points to the respect shown both to his men by David and his men to him.
They were willing to risk their lives so that David would have the encouragement that the land promised to Israel would be returned. David pours out the water “to the Lord.” His actions are because he fears the Lord and respects his men.
You do not get the sense in David’s story that his men did what they did because they were afraid of their king, but because he was ultimately respectable and they would follow him to their graves if necessary. They wanted to serve him.
He earned their respect by caring for them.
The story is told in 2nd Samuel of David being tempted to take a census of the people. His sin in taking the census leads to the destruction of many in Israel, a discipline the Lord intended for his rebellious people [2 Samual 24:1]. David cries out to the Lord arguing that it was his own sin that caused the problem. “Don’t punish them!”
David cared for the people. He did not want them suffering for his sin. He did not push his problem off on them. He did not shift the blame.
And he even had the humility to respond to their criticisms unlike so many abusive leaders. [1 Chronicles 21:3, 2 Samuel 12] His men even took the risk of criticizing him, pointing to a man who is humbled by his fear of God.
When one rules justly over men, ruling in the fear of God, he dawns on them like the morning light…