Defining Christian Leadership Both Good And Bad

As a store manager for 23 years I have attended more than 25 leadership one or two day training meetings. I spent one week in Chicago being taught how to train store managers to be leaders. I recently heard a sermon comparing the leadership of two men: King Saul and King David. Hopefully, I can share with you some attributes of good leadership.

God grieved that He had made Saul a king. (I Samuel 15:11) God said that David was a man after his own heart and he will do everything I want him to do. (Acts 13:22)

Both these men lived horrible lives. I have often wondered why some of the things King David did was inserted into the Bible. David was a lady’s man and had a number of wives and had many sons and daughters (I Chronicles 14:3) He had his friend Uriah killed so he could have his wife Bathsheba. (II Samuel 11:15)

What can we learn about leadership from these two kings according to Scripture? The prophet Samuel told King Saul that God wanted him to attack and destroy every one of the Amalekites leaving no one alive. Take nothing that they had. He disobeyed and kept their king alive and brought back some livestock. Another time Samuel did not come in time to offer a burnt offering to God so Saul did it himself. Samuel told Saul because of his continual disobedience He would no longer be king.

We learn that Saul was disobedient. He was unwilling to take direction. Being overly stubborn is not a positive attribute. He was in denial. When Samuel reprimanded him for not doing as God commanded he would not accept criticism and would blame it always onto someone else. He would not accept responsibility for his actions. He didn’t seem to be too disciplined and continued to do whatever pleased him. The more you read about King Saul the more arrogant he comes across and he has a fairly large ego. Power went to Saul’s head and he wasn’t too concerned about what Samuel or God told him to do. It appears he had a hard heart and not receptive to Godly guidance. Saul ended up falling on his sword and committing suicide.

King David appears to be just the opposite. II Samuel 5:23 – 25 – “so David inquired of the Lord, and he answered, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle around behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.’ So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.”

King Saul was not concerned about the Ark of the Covenant that the Philistines had captured and placed in their Dagon’s temple. One of the first things King David did was to retrieve the Ark and bring it to Ekron. Prior to David making any major decision he asked God for guidance and direction. He was completely obedient. Anytime that He sinned and God through others brought it to his attention, he immediately accepted that he had sinned and repented by asking God for forgiveness. As a leader he was very disciplined and did exactly as directed by God. He had a servant’s heart and often was extremely kind to others.

I Samuel 16:7 – “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (This is in reference to King Saul.)

From a Biblical standpoint leadership is about the heart, one’s attitude toward God and to others. It all gets back to the two great commandments of Loving God and others. King Saul was more concerned about what was best for Saul. King David was more concerned about how he could please God and being just to those he ruled over. Which king would you prefer to be a citizen under? Here is a recap: One was disobedient, the other was obedient. One was in continual denial the other accepted responsibility. One king was arrogant and egotistical and the other had a servant’s heart and was kind to others. One was unreliable and the other reliable and dependable. One put him self first and the other put God first. One learned to listen intently and was able to change as needed and the other was too stubborn to listen and change. One king wanted all the glory and the other gave all of the glory to God.

King David made a lot of mistakes or sins. Yet, he was a man after God’s heart. He paid some horrible consequences for his sin but his heart always wanted to please God. Where is our heart? Is it on ourselves or focused on Christ, God and others? Do we have a servant’s heart and are we kind to others? Regardless of why we were allowed to see how badly an individual can live and still please God, it does not give us permission to deliberately sin. However, He is a God of second chances!

Here is what I have learned through lectures and actual experience. Leaders must make decisions. Every decision demands weighing the pluses and minuses of each choice. For example, how will the decision affect your long-term career goals? How will the decision affect your family? How will it affect your spiritual life and that of people with whom you associate, including those who you may be working for? Making decision begins with prayerful consideration of the known pluses and minuses. I always ask: “Are there any unintended consequences I am not aware about, God?”

We as Christians have an advantage in knowing that whatever decision we make, it is the right one. We may struggle for a while asking, “Should I, or shouldn’t I?” or wonder, “What would happen if I . . .” But once you’ve made your decision, you can throw yourself into your career with complete confidence that you are where you belong. The Christian who daily surrenders to the Holy Spirit can take the words of Solomon to heart: “For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared” (Prov. 3:26).

Believe me, if you are in tune with the Holy Spirit and consistently pray, the Lord will lead you into making the right decisions. I would never think of making a major decision without checking with God first. Sometimes we must be patient, for He doesn’t always answer in the first few minutes.

If the decision we make turns out to be completely wrong realize that God allowed it to happen for the purpose of teaching us. But I am describing a spiritually mature Christian leader who has the right heart. God placed His Spirit into our lives to help us make good and moral decisions.

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