Summer Daily Devotional - Psalm 78
Leadership Lessons From David
At the very end of this chapter (second only to Psalm 119 in length!), there are two verses that succinctly capture the essence of David’s leadership.
“God chose his servant David and took him from the sheep pens, from tending the sheep God brought him to be the shepherd of God’s people. So David shepherded God’s people with integrity of heart, and guided them with skillful hands.” Psalm 78:70-71
There are multiple leadership axioms here. Let’s look at three briefly.
Leadership Lesson #1: Your current humble circumstances don’t disqualify you from future leadership opportunities.
You might be tempted to think that the current role you play is too humble or simple to lead anywhere exciting. But quite the opposite is true—your current experience might actually be preparing you for the next leadership assignment.
Don’t miss that.
David’s resume for leading a complex nation of people was herding a flock of simple sheep. Shepherding wasn’t disqualifying him for a future leadership assignment. It was the very thing that prepared him for it.
Leadership Lesson #2: Faithfulness in small things leads to responsibility over big things.
David started tending sheep, by himself, with no one watching. David ended his life leading real people, on behalf of God, with the whole world watching. That’s quite the ladder climb.
The seed became the redwood. Small beginnings are often seedbeds for bigger things to come.
David could have griped and complained that he deserved more than his minimum wage pay for herding sheep, but he didn’t. He fulfilled his duties to the best of his ability. And in so doing, he prepared himself for the next leadership assignment.
Don’t despise or resent your current assignment; embrace it. You might be interviewing for a bigger role...you just don’t know it yet.
Leadership Lesson #3: A leader must grow in character and competence.
I love that it doesn’t just say, “And King David was appointed to lead God’s people because he was a nice guy.”
No, he had integrity of character and skillfulness of hands.
I take this to mean he had intellectual and emotional intelligence. He had savvy. Moxy. Organizational acumen. Decision-making instincts. He knew how to delegate and how to negotiate. He knew when to speak up and power ahead, when to hold back, and when to wait patiently.
He knew how to make complex decisions. He learned how to win the loyalty of those around him. He knew how to engage an operational mindset when laying out military tactics to invade another country. He understood logistics, troop dynamics, supply chains. He understood economics, trade deals, and geopolitics.
And how do I know this, you say? Because you don't successfully lead a nation of millions while surrounded by hostile enemies without some serious leadership chops. “Skillful hands.”
AND he was a poet. A songwriter. A musician. A man who had a burning passion for God. Hard skills and soft skills.
Was David perfect? Far from it. But his life stands as a leadership example we all could learn from.
So what is your growing edge? Where does your character or competency need sharpening today? You may not lead a nation of millions, but leadership is the same everywhere. Whether you’re a small business owner or a member of a large team or homeschooling your children through cultural craziness, your leadership assignment requires both integrity of heart and skillful hands.
We desperately need more leaders like this in our day. Leaders who don’t waste their current assignment, who resolve to be faithful where they’re at, and who are determined to grow in both character and competency.
So what could you do to grow in these areas today?
May the Lord continue to refine us and prepare us for future work to be done.