David is probably the greatest character in the Bible other than our Lord himself. Certainly more chapters are devoted to his story and his songs than to anyone else. In 1 Samuel so far we have seen rather mixed examples of leadership. In David’s life we will see a much better model of leadership, and we will not see the signs of a selfish, failed leader we have seen in Saul. But it is not that we turn to a perfect example. The Bible is very honest about its heros, something we would do well to remember in modern biographies of Christian leaders in my view!
How should a leader be selected? This has massive implications for us today in determining whether someone should start a church plant or might be better off serving on the leadership of a multisite venue for example. But even for those of us not making such decisions, we choose a leader for ourselves whenever we join a church.
The short answer is that God selects his leaders. He tells Samuel, “I have provided for myself a king” (1 Samuel 16:2). The sovereignty of God is at work here. Both in the selection and the preparation of those who he calls to lead. Caring for the sheep and singing with his lyre David probably had no idea he was in Gods training school for Kings.
This passage is quite rightly used to make the point that God often chooses the unimpressive, and the overlooked. So often we look on the outside, but God looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7). And yet, some take that point too far. The God who had chosen David before the foundation of the world had indeed put into David certain traits that would make him a good leader. He had also developed his character in the quiet place. So, in selecting a leader we are not to ignore outward traits, rather to be more concerned about the heart condition.
- He was someone who could be trusted with responsibility as he cared for the sheep. (1 Samuel 16:11)
- There was something attractive about him (1 Samuel 16:12)
- God demonstrated his choice of David by anointing him in a special way with his Spirit (1 Samuel 16:13)
- He was skilled as a musician, and therefore we infer he was a worshipper (1 Samuel 16:18)
- He was a brave man, with “fight” in him, and was not weak or timid (1 Samuel 16:18)
- He was cautious in what he said, and not a blabbermouth (1 Samuel 16:18)
- He had a presence about him (1 Samuel 16:18)
- It was clear that God was with him blessing what he did and granting him success (1 Samuel 16:18)
- He inspired love from others (1 Samuel 16:21)
- He was willing to serve other leaders rather than being all about his own agenda (1 Samuel 16:21)
I think we would do well to look for these kinds of qualities in our leaders today. We would do well to pray for ourselves that God would develop such things in ourselves.
What kind of leader are you?