Real Leadership in David and Goliath
The story of David and Goliath isn't just a tale your Sunday school teacher told. If you give it more than a quick glance you'll find an illustration of leadership that is incredibly relevant today.
In our last blog, we looked at the ways even a leader like David can struggle with desires for wealth and popularity. Struggling with those desires does not make you less of a leader. It's putting them in God's hands that allows you to be used.
So how do you do that? Thankfully, God deals with people today the same way He did in David's time. Here are two ways leaders today can make sure their struggles don't keep them from being someone God can use.
Real Leadership Means Being Honest About Who You Are
After he kills Goliath, David acts in a way that sounds pretty familiar when compared to today's celebrities. After the giant is dead, David cuts off his head. What does he do with it? The Bible says the next thing he does is go to Jerusalem.
Jerusalem is one of the most populated areas of the time. The reason David goes right there is probably the same reason anyone else would - he'd just killed a giant! He's pumped up and excited. He wants to carry that head into town and show off. He's excited about what God just did, and he's battling with what leaders battle with every day.
Do you ever walk around with a giant head? Someone gives you a title, a position, and suddenly there's a group that's paying attention to you. The head you're carrying gets bigger and bigger. You can be a pastor or a leader for decades and still struggle with those feelings.
So what do you do about it? Do you let that be your motivation for getting up on stage? Do you try to pretend that those thoughts and desires aren't there, or that they don't have an impact on your life? If you know anything about the rest of David's story, you know that desires for wealth and women don't just go away. Instead of hoping they'll disappear, it's time to be honest about what you are and what you're struggling with. It's time to accept that the only way to make it go away is to hand it over to God.
Real Leadership Means Not Trying to Be Someone Else in Ministry
When David faced Goliath, he wasn't big or strong. In fact, when Saul meets David his first reaction is "there's no way you can do this." But David convinces the King that he has what it takes. Then this happens:
38 Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. 39 David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. “I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off. (1 Samuel 17:38-39)
Saul said "I know what a warrior looks like, and I'm going to make sure you look like one." David responded "yes, I get that, but that's not me. It's not the person who God created." He took off the armor Saul put on him and walked out as himself - a shepherd with a sling.
Have you ever worn armor that doesn't fit?
If you've ever been a youth pastor, you may see it most clearly. As a youth pastor you could be the real you. You were fun to be around! You were yourself. And then what happened? Someone took a senior pastor title and put it on you. Other people came in with their expectations of what a senior pastor ought to do, how they should act, and what they should sound like. You ended up in someone else's armor. How's it fitting?
When we wear armor that doesn't fit, when we take on expectations of what our title should be, we forget something important: God has birthed in us something unique. We are uniquely created and prepared to face the giants in our lives. When we get caught up in wearing someone else's armor, we lose that.
When you're honest about who you are, and when you take off armor that doesn't fit, you're free to fight the battles God has called you to. That doesn't mean you won't struggle with desires you'd rather not have. However, it does mean that even though you struggle, you're still someone God can and will use.