Leadership Lesson from King David
One of the great leaders in the Holy Bible is King David. Here are a few leadership lessons from his life that I have extracted and been meditating on.
These lessons are from 1 Samuel 18:5, “So David went out wherever Saul sent him, and behaved wisely. And Saul set him over the men of war, and he was accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.”
A little background: David was a courageous young shepherd who loved the Lord. The prophet Samuel anointed him to be King by pouring oil on his head, as was the tradition. David would not be King until later in his life. At this point, Saul was King. David had just killed Goliath, the giant warrior who was threatening the armies of Israel. [You may also have interest in my article: King David’s Last Words.]
Am I accepted in the sight of the people I want to lead?
It says in the verse above that David was “accepted in the sight of all the people and also in the sight of Saul’s servants.” In other words, the people of Israel, as well as the royal court of King Saul, liked him.
Many times as leaders, we forget that the people we lead must accept us. Even though we have a place of authority, when people do not accept us, like us, and even love us, then we are not fully effective with them. I want to offer three reasons why people may have accepted David.
Come in and out. The Bible says, “But all Israel and Judah loved David because he went out and came in before them.”
I love this picture of a leader. David was among the people. He did not isolate himself away with other leaders, in a castle, or on his own. He went out and came in before them. He was with his people. For us, this is a reminder that regardless of our position, we must be among our people. You may lead a very large company, such that you cannot be with all of your people. If that is the case, I encourage you to at least be with some of them on a regular basis. Listen to people. Care for them. Be present in their lives.
Be prudent in speech. The Bible says that the people told Saul about David and that these were his qualities, “Look, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a mighty man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a handsome person; and the Lord is with him.”
I want to be prudent in speech, don’t you? What comes out of our mouths as leaders goes a long way toward establishing acceptance with our people. Many times, we are not careful about what we say. My goal is to be quick to listen and slow to speak.
The Lord is with him. Many times in the Bible, it is said that the Lord is with David, and the people saw that. One passage says that David was a man after God’s own heart.
I believe when people see that we aren’t just after results, profits, and organization building, but that we also have an eternal perspective in how we see our lives and the lives of others, then they will be drawn to us. Even though in today’s world, spiritual matters can be taboo in the workplace, I truly believe that people appreciate it when their leaders have a connection to God.
There are other lessons from this verse that I will share with you in future articles. But for today, I hope and pray that you will honor the people you lead so that you may be accepted in their sight. For without acceptance, we have to resort to pressure and manipulation to manage people, and those are never effective or healthy ways to lead.