What Church Leaders can learn from a shepherd boy? Yes, there are many things that today’s church leaders can learn from King David, but, I am not going to discuss everything in this short article. Just a couple of them that are more important.
As you all know, King David was an important character in the Bible, a man with an honest heart.
However, here, the topic is not about King David’s whole life or character, but, about a particular situation in which he behaved in an exemplary manner that is unimaginable for most of today’s Christian leaders. The context was his encounter with King Saul.
Before discussing the main topic, I would like to give a little bit of background information.
David was a shepherd boy who became famous because of his success in killing Goliath, the Philistine. After killing Goliath, David was appointed in the service of King Saul, the first king of Israel. However, at times, the King felt jealousy of David because of his popularity among the people.
David’s popularity was such that; people even considered him as a warrior far more skillful than King Saul himself. Anyway, David’s fame aroused the jealousy of king Saul to the level that he was even willing to kill David.
Whenever king Saul was in distress David would play the flute and comfort him. However, Saul could not hide his jealousy any more and decides to kill David.
On two occasions while David was playing the flute Saul tried to hurl his spear and kill him, however, David instead of retaliating, dodged the spear and escaped with his life.
In addition to the direct attacks; King Saul also found other ways to get David Killed. He even asked David to go to war with Philistines with the intention of getting him killed by them.
Even the marriage of David with Saul’s daughter Michal was an indirect arrangement to get David killed. But, none of King Saul’s plans succeeded because the LORD was with David.
Anyway, King Saul was still trying to Kill David despite several failed attempts. The context of this article is also one such occasions.
Now, David was hiding in the hill of Hakilah opposite to Jeshimon and the Ziphites informed King Saul about his hiding place.
Saul with his 3000 selected warriors came and camped just opposite of the hill where David was hiding. But David went near Saul’s camp and found out where King Saul and his commander Abner was resting. After identifying the spot, he set out towards Saul’s camp at night, with one of his assistants – Abishai.
They went into the camp and found everyone fast asleep including Saul and his commander Abner. Abishai immediately suggests David to kill Saul but he replies:
9But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.”
12So David took the spear and water jug near Saul’s head, and they left. No one saw or knew about it, nor did anyone wake up. They were all sleeping, because the Lord had put them into a deep sleep.(1Samuel 26, 9-12)
Next, David moves to the nearby hill, a bit far from Saul’s camp and calls out to him to let him know that he had just been to his camp.
Well, let me stop this part of the story here as you could read the rest of it from your own Bible.
Now, David had a wonderful opportunity to kill King Saul, his arch enemy, who came to the place where he was hiding only with the intention of killing him.
However, though David had the chance to kill King Saul, he did not do that, instead, he let Saul live and the reason he gives is this:
Let us hear it straight from his mouth:
9But David said to Abishai, “Don’t destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? 10As surely as the Lord lives,” he said, “the Lord himself will strike him, or his time will come and he will die, or he will go into battle and perish. 11But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed. Now get the spear and water jug that are near his head, and let’s go.” (1 Samuel, 26, 9-11)
Anyway, David’s behavior is both interesting and intriguing from the perspective of an average born-again believer.
We live in an interesting period in the history of the church. A period in which the church is overwhelmed by the burden of many sins especially the sins like love of money, slandering, unforgiveness, vengeance and immorality among both the sheep and the shepherds.
There are a huge number of congregations in which serious fights and disagreements are a common occurrence among both leaders and laymen.
Leaders are fighting with leaders; laymen are fighting with laymen and leaders etc.
And, the reasons for most of these fights are nothing as serious as the one between David and King Saul.
Most of the time, the fight begins because of some trivial matters. Instead of fighting our collective enemies in the spiritual realm, we are fighting among ourselves.
Actually, these fights are not achieving anything, instead they are weakening the church and as a result it has lost its focus and strength to fight the real enemies and powers in the spiritual realm.
The sheep and the shepherds alike have become so insensitive that, nowadays, they don’t even have the ability to comprehend the danger faced by the church.
If we analyze the response of David to King Saul, we could learn a few things about the way we should respond in a similar situation. So, let us examine How David Responded:
Even though King Saul was within the reach of David’s sword, he decides not to kill him. The reason was:
Saul was a man anointed by the God Almighty to be the king of Israel and a layman like David did not have the right to take his life away.
Also, David did not speak anything negatively or disrespectfully about his leader to his assistant.
Furthermore, the moment David sees Saul, a Spirit of forgiveness takes control of David’s Heart.
So, from David’s response what can we learn? How we should respond in an identical situation?
Leaders should be respectful to each other
Leaders in a congregation should be respectful to each other and also should be careful not to overstep on the authority of others.
If there are issues to be sorted out or discussed, it should be done as per the rules laid out in the Scriptures and not according the worldly customs or traditions.
Dealing with an issue between two leaders should begin with forgiveness. The Offended party should be willing to forgive the offender.
An issue cannot be sorted out unless forgiveness comes first. Forgiveness brings healing in the inner spirit and makes it easy to bring quick healing outside.
Also, leaders should be careful not to discuss with the sheep about the issues among leaders. A leader should not talk about the faults or weaknesses of another leader to the sheep. That will encourage the sheep to be disrespectful to that particular leader. Issues among leaders should be discussed only among leaders.
Leaders should also be Respectful to the sheep.
Similarly, if an issue arises between a leader and a layman because of the sin committed by the layman, the leader should handle the issue in a very mature manner.
Do not accuse or punish the sheep publicly. There is always enough room for forgiveness and prayer. The Leader should take the initiative privately to deal with the situation.
No one in this world is perfect, so a leader should be mature enough to take the corrective measures privately and it should begin with forgiveness.
Don’t make the matter public and expose your own sheep to the ridiculing of others.
Forgiveness should be the first step, because, once forgives comes in, all other steps will be effective and fruitful.
Sheep should respect the Authority of their shepherds.
In a congregation a Pastor or preacher is appointed by the will of God (In most cases. Of course, there are exceptions) and no matter what sin he commits, a layman does not have the right to raise his voice against the one appointed by the Lord Almighty.
If the leader has done something wrong, the sheep should pray and seek God’s help to deal with the situation. The sheep should never deal with such a situation like the way the world does.
And beyond everything, the sheep should be willing to forgive that servant of God genuinely and help him to get back on his feet again.
Do not think that you have the right to punish or work against your leader just because your leader is wrong and you are right.
God did not appoint you as the judge and if your leader is wrong, it is for the Lord Almighty to deal with him.
That is what David did, instead of punishing King Saul, David decides to leave the punishment to God Almighty.
The church environment will be more peaceful and spirit-filled If we follow the above Biblical Principles in dealing with crisis like situations in the church.
Otherwise, we are going to spend all our time and energy going after each other’s throats and finally everyone will get exhausted and the common enemy of us all will take victory over the church.
Remember: Sheep never fight against each other; but the goats do it all the time. Are we goats or sheep?