By Dave Earley
Of all of the men in Israel, God selected one of the most unlikely to become the next king. David was the seventh son of Jesse. A shepherd boy, he was to become God’s chosen, and ultimately favorite, king. He became a great leader.
You know his story, how as a very young man he defeated the giant, Goliath, and brought Israel a great victory. Then he led his army to one victory after another over the Philistines. In fact he was so successful, paranoid King Saul became murderously jealous and chased David from his home into the wilderness.
Even then, David was still a leader. He gathered a motley crew around him and with those merry men wreaked havoc on God’s enemies. Later, when he became king, David took the little ragtag group of tribes called Israel and established them as a legitimate nation focused on worshipping the true God. Under God’s direction, he designed a powerful system of worship that brought down the favor of God on Israel.
God put His confidence in David because he was a well-rounded, shepherd-hearted leader. He had everything it took to guide God’s people effectively.
God also put His confidence in David because, even as a young man, David displayed the primary aspects of effective shepherding leadership.
The first necessary aspect of a godly shepherd leader is inward integrity. David had “a pure heart” (Ps 78:72). There is no credibility without integrity. It is important that pastors and leaders cultivate Godly character, flee greed, and follow purity.
Beyond that, David also had a strong upward focus. God Himself testified of David, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will carry out all My will” (Acts 13:22). Being a pastor is serving as a spiritual leader. Your relationship with God is of vital importance, and this is best served by prioritizing prayer.
Third, we see that David also evidenced a clear forward outlook. He knew where he was going and “guided” the people (Ps 78:72).
Finally, David was able to lead so effectively because he had an outward mindset. He had a shepherd’s heart for people. He knew how to gather followers and cultivate other leaders.
Maybe you are just beginning to pursue the path to effective, biblical pastoral ministry. Maybe you have already gotten your feet wet. Or, maybe you are a seasoned veteran. Wherever you find yourself in the leadership journey, it is vitally important to remain strong and keep growing in all four areas: (1) inward—integrity and godly morality; (2) upward—intimacy with God; (3) forward—intentionality regarding the future; and (4) outward—inspirational ability.
Be encouraged: David was not always a national leader. Before he was ready to lead a nation of people, he led a flock of sheep. Before he was king, he was a shepherd. Before he led others, he learned to lead himself. He grew in his personal integrity, spiritual intimacy, his inspirational ability, and his intentionality.
Adapted from Pastoral Leadership Is… (B&H Publishing Group, 2012)