Articles | Leadership

Shawn is a pastor and speaker passionate about Jesus and people. He is also the author of "Ministering to Gay Teenagers." Shawn lives with his family in Ohio, where he helps pastor CMA Church.

Recently I was transferring notes from one Bible to another. As I was working my way through 1 Samuel, God began pointing out some leadership qualities based on the life of David that I needed to not only remember, but put into better practice. I wanted to share them with you, as one who is also walking this journey of becoming a leader after God’s heart.

Know the voice of God (1 Samuel 3)

When God started calling Samuel, the Bible says that not only did he not know God but the word of God had not yet been revealed to him (7). My question is, why? If Eli was Samuel’s mentor, why hadn’t he helped Samuel discover the Lord and His word? When God began calling Samuel during the night, why did it take Eli three times before realizing God was speaking?

I’m not suggesting that we should always know when God is speaking to us without doubt. Sometimes we need strict discernment. However, we should still seek to know and listen for God’s voice on a continual basis. May He teach us how to distinguish His voice over the crowds, and may we teach others the same.

People pleasers will never succeed (15:24)

King Saul was blunt, “I have sinned … because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.” Living for the approval of others will get us no where, be it our bosses, our family, our students, or our peers. ‘People-pleasing’ is self-destructive and performance-driven. The only Person we should seek the approval of is God Himself. And He already approves of us, as evident of Christ’s death and resurrection. With God, position trumps performance.

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God qualifies the called (16:7)

It’s an all too familiar passage, “The LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD look on the heart.” We know this passage, but how many of us struggle to truly reflect it in our ministry and personal life? I know I do. If God was only looking for people who had “the right stuff,” He would have probably passed by all of us (definitely me!). However, God wants leaders who will walk with Him in total trust and surrender. God works best with messy people who are able to be re-shaped in to His image.

Spirit-fullness, humility, and service are foundational (16:13, 21)

True humility and servanthood comes from being filled with God’s Spirit. We need one to rightly achieve the others. We see this evidence in David’s life as he serves King Saul. David has just been anointed by Samuel. Instead of taking his rightful place as King, he goes to Saul, enters into his service and becomes Saul’s armor-bearer. How many of us could do likewise? David served Saul, because he knew whom he was truly serving: God.

Is God asking you to submit to something or someone out of service and humility? Are you seeking the Spirit’s fullness to help you achieve this?

Compare David’s posture to Saul with Saul’s posture to David in chapter 18:6-16. Jealousy, pride, and fear are snares of leadership failure.

Minister from a secure identity and position (17)

The fight between David and Goliath was a risk from the beginning. David was weaker, smaller, and untrained, compared to Goliath. Still, David refused to shrink back, because he knew who was truly fighting for him and what this battle meant for his kingdom. Not only was Goliath attacking David’s people, but his God, too. He fought in a secure identity and position, which came from God alone. He didn’t wear the armor of man but dressed himself with the Lord. David knew that with God on his side, he couldn’t lose. The battle was fought in security and faith.

The battles we face are no different. We have an enemy who hates us and wants us to fail. So he’ll attack everything and every one he can in order to get at us. Question is, will we allow him to defeat us or trust God to defeat him?

Honor the Lord’s will above your own

David started out great, but as time went on he got cocky and lazy. Still a man after God’s heart, David began allowing his eyes to wander from God’s vision and calling as time went on. David began trusting himself and his experiences rather than the One who called and commissioned him.

Despite the tough times ahead of us, or the ones we’re in now, we must keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12:2).” Our firm standing as a leader depends greatly on where our focus lies. Everything centers on Jesus. Anything other than Him will eventually pass away. May we never cease to be a leader after God’s heart.

With you and for you,

Shawn / @611pulse

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