How do you value leadership? Is leadership all about what you do? The people you influence? The organizations you direct? The decisions you make? The success you accomplish? Certainly these are expressions of leadership, but are they all that leadership is?
Many think achievements are what being a leader is all about, and when they look for a leader, they look at a person’s accomplishments to make their choices. That should be a major part of their decision, but why is it that they are often disappointed when the leader fails to be the person they thought they were getting? The answer is that they have made the same mistake that God’s ancient prophet made when he went to anoint David as the second king of Israel at the house of Jesse in Bethlehem.
When Samuel arrived at Jesse’s house and first met Jesse’s sons, he was immediately impressed by his oldest son, but God corrected his thinking by telling him “man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart” of the man involved. While appearance is vital for a leader, a leader’ s heart is far more important in God’s mind. What made David’s heart so special to God? Look at his consistent practices and you will see the constant patterns that made him God’s man.
*He worshipped God consistently—he exalted God through his writing and his music.
*He depended on God constantly—he relied on God in all he did.
*He honored God regularly—he exalted God in every way he could.
*He submitted to God totally—he never acted against Saul although he had two opportunities to kill the king.
Seventeen years passed from the time David was anointed by Samuel until he became Israel’s king, seventeen years when he was hunted as an outlaw. His life was constantly threatened, and he lived in a cave in the wilderness. This is how God prepared him to be His leader and taught him to rely on Him and protect His people.
In that seventeen-year period of time, David learned of God’s faithfulness and how he could trust God in the difficult situations he faced, so that he depended radically on God for the rest of his life. During that time he trusted God completely in his relationship with Saul and never acted on his own to get what God had promised to give him from the king. The result was that God stood with him and preserved him while He prepared the nation for David’s rule and brought all of them together as his followers.
Leadership demands skills, but more foundational than that, leadership demands a heart that belongs exclusively to God and will trust Him when nothing is going right.
To be a real leader, the kind that David was, we must trust God no matter what we face, not because it makes us successful but because this kind of trust enables us to lead our followers to live God’s way. That is real leadership.