I read leadership material and blogs just like many other leaders. And, after being in leadership for 30 years now, I can discern pretty quickly what type of leadership style the author believes in and is promoting. As stated in my first post in this Leadership Series, ‘The Leadership Dilemma of Our Day’, the range goes from dictatorial to the having to have the consensus of everyone. I will stay out of that debate and get to the heart of the matter that always comes down to the heart of the leader.
A string of corrupt leaders will leave a bad taste in all our mouths concerning this subject. Get burned a time or two by leadership and skepticism quickly enters towards all leaders. So much so that many good strong leaders are accused of being Saul’s when nothing could be further from the truth. If we are to have great leaders leading then we must learn how to recognize them and work with them, not in opposition no matter how many times we may have been burned in the past.
To keep from writing a book let’s just present a few key bullet points to compare both King Saul and King David.
•First, both were anointed by the prophet Samuel. We must never forget the anointing makes us WAY better than we are. Saul forgot that and began to believe his own press. His rule became about him and not the people he served. David in spite of his many blunders never forgot that it was the anointing that made him who he was and he used it for the sake of building the kingdom of God.
•Second, after being anointed Saul went straight into leadership. David went back to tending sheep in the pasture and then moved into serving Saul. Great leaders go through processing first. An untested leader is just that, an untested leader who you will never know what they will do until the testing comes. David was tested in the fires of processing for years before he became the great leader we all know. The people had opportunity to see the rising leader develop. There is a reason the NT uses the word, ‘elder’ when it comes to church leadership.
•Third, great leadership is willing to fight and die for their sheep if necessary. In facing Goliath, Saul was way more concerned about his own skin then he was the nation he was supposedly leading and the Name of God he was to be defending. David on the other hand USED the anointing he had for the sake of the people and the NAME of the Lord without consideration of his personal safety or comfort. Jesus laid down His life for His sheep. Any leader unwilling to do so is not fit to be a leader.
•Fourth, Saul leadership will always attack the greater anointing. The heart of a genuine kingdom leader is to always submit to the greater anointing as we see David doing before Saul is taken out of the picture. The heart of a genuine kingdom leader should be to both release anointing and to celebrate it as they use it for greater kingdom glory.
•Fifth, Saul leaders will disobey the Word of God to make them look good before people. When Saul disobeyed Samuel and offered sacrifice before Samuel arrived, we see the heart of Saul was not one of submission to the LORD, but rather about how he looked before men. To do this he had to become a people pleaser rather than a God pleaser. David on the other hand is seen numerous times humbling himself before the people and God in sackcloth and ashes as well as in throwing off his kingly robes to join in with the people in radical praise and worship. David was all about God. Saul was all about himself and the show.
•Sixth, Saul leadership will stoop to witchcraft to seek guidance while Davidic leadership will seek God. I’ll be careful with this one, but when leaders would rather learn how to manipulate people to get what they want from them verses seeking God to see what God wants to lead the people into…we have a major problem.
•Seventh, all leaders will fail at times. Both Saul and David failed, the difference was David was quick to repent and because of this God called him a man after His own heart. Saul chose to continually disobey and it cost him his life.
The truth we need to see here is that we must become a people who look first at the hearts of our leaders. All are fallible in some way because all are still being perfected. The question becomes, do I trust this leaders heart? Does the leader allow me to see their heart, especially in the public setting? Am I being drawn to the heart of the leader or simply to natural traits that make them appear larger than life?
Once you have discerned this for yourself, plant yourself firmly in the vision they are leading in with your eyes on Jesus and with grace for the leader He is using.