Daily D – Psalm 78:70-72
He chose his servant David, calling him from the sheep pens. He took David from tending the ewes and lambs and made him the shepherd of Jacob’s descendants—God’s own people, Israel. He cared for them with a true heart and led them with skillful hands. PSALM 78:70-72 (NLT)
He shepherded them with a pure heart and guided them with skillful hands.
His good heart made him a good shepherd; he guided the people wisely and well.
Perquisite. This is an interesting word. It is not the kind of word I grew up hearing often in Northeast Texas. It indicates a special right or privilege a person enjoys because of his or her position. The perqs are why some people, maybe even most people, aspire to leadership positions. They want the big bucks, the big bonuses, the big houses, and the big toys. Let’s be honest and say those are not necessarily bad things.
Let’s also agree that the privileges of leadership also bear a more important requirement called responsibility. Libraries and online booksellers are filled with titles on leadership. Find a brick and mortar bookstore and notice how extensive the shelf space is related to leadership. John Maxwell has authored a few dozen titles all by himself. Kouzes and Posner’s The Leadership Challenge is one of the all-time greats. Jim Collins and Patrick Lencioni are required reading.
It was Collins in particular, along with a handful of others, whose research led to the conclusion that the one characteristic which separates good leaders from great ones is humility. Collins and Maxwell both talk about Level 5 Leaders in these terms. This should not surprise us. One of the best leaders ever was a shepherd boy who grew into a king, and not only a king, but the father of a king, and the head of a dynasty which endures forever through his descendant Jesus.
What were David’s two outstanding leadership characteristics? He had a pure heart and skillful hands.
His pure heart guided his decision making. His skillful hands accomplished his projects and tasks.
Often today we hear of teams seeking their next leaders using four C’s: Character, competence, commitment, and compatibility. Of the four, we are told, the one you most definitely cannot compromise on is character. Look for leaders like David.
David failed this test himself, didn’t he? When you think of David, you think of a couple of incidents in particular including Goliath and Bathsheba. Goliath was the inciting incident launching him into fame and a special future. Bathsheba was the derailing incident which led to a long, slow decline in his fortunes. As famous as his sin is his repentance. When Nathan pointed his boney finger in his direction, David could have had his head removed for his audacity. Instead, he wept. He confessed his sin. He wrote it down (Ps. 51). God preserved it so that you and I would have a model for coming clean about our own sin.
David’s leadership decisions brought healing and strength to God’s people. He united disparate tribes. He provided a place of focus for the nation. He prepared the way for his son to succeed in many more ways than simply sitting in his place on his throne.
The next time you look for someone to step into a leadership role, look for a pure heart and skillful hands. Cultivate these characteristics for yourself. There are always positions and perquisites for those who lead with such a heart and hands.
I will cultivate a pure heart and skillful hands.
Our Father, purify my heart. Cleanse me, scrub me, make me as white as snow. Develop my skills for the projects and tasks before me. Use me to bless your world. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.