Article by Bishop Noel A. Pantoja (Guest Contributor)
President and Chairman, Philippine Bible Society
National Director, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches
January 24, 2018
Down through history we have learned that the success and failure, the glory and collapse of nations and organizations, lies on leadership. In the Scriptures, when God would like to do great things, build something, or when God would lead his people to do something or solve a problem, God calls a leader to champion a cause.
When God executed the plan for man’s salvation, He called Abraham. Abraham was called the father of faith. When He wanted to build a nation out of Abraham’s lineage, He called another leader — Jacob. Jacob built the nation of Israel. When God needed to save that nation, He called another leader named Joseph. And when that nation was in a very terrible condition and needed to be united and strengthened, God called another leader named David. And when God sent His own son to this world, Jesus called men to follow him and trained them to be leaders. His disciples were sent to lead and expand Christianity around the world.
One of the best biblical examples of righteous leadership and living is King David. Psalm 78 tells the story of God’s people, chosen to be the showcase of His love, salvation and light to the nations. It is a recollection of Israel’s story.
The writer tells how God established a testimony and appointed law in Israel and commanded the fathers to teach their children, so that the next generation might know God’s law and set their hopes in God and keep His commandments (v.5-11). We find in the story that the nation starting from the leaders did not keep God’s covenant and refused to walk according to His laws; and they forgot His works and the wonders He had shown them.
In spite of their sinfulness and rebelliousness, the story goes on to say how God showed Himself powerful. From the crossing of the Red Sea, to the water from the rocks, they have seen miracles after miracles and wonders of God. Yet the nation sinned against Him, rebelling against the Most High. When they wanted bread and meat, God provided them with manna, the grain from heaven, and quail rained like sands of the seas. Still they grumbled and said, “We want onions and garlic,” the food they craved and the spices they craved.
In verse 70, God chose and called a new leader named David, calling him from the sheep pens. And God brought him to shepherd Israel.
Psalm 72:78 summarized King David’s leadership with the words, “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with skillful hands.”
He was described as having an upright heart. David was not a perfect leader but chose to follow God in spite of his weaknesses and failures.
God prepared him in private first, in solitude without the knowledge of everybody. His name did not appear in the news. He was also not the most popular guy. He killed a lion and a bear in private, but God later on led him to kill a giant in front of everybody, including their enemies.
He brought his brother’s armor in humility. He started with little responsibilities and then later God gave him big responsibilities. He was faithful with small things so God gave him responsibilities over big things. David’s heart was a servant heart. David knew that he must serve in order to lead.
A leader with integrity does what is right even when he is alone and in private. He is trustworthy in small things and big things. His passion is to serve in order to lead.
God was equally concerned about David’s heart and David’s hands. He guided them with skillful hands. David was a skillful shepherd. From childhood, he knew how to take care of the young lambs and the adult sheep, the mother sheep and the little lambs. He knows how to lead the young and the old. David was skillful in using his weapon. He knows how to use a sling with exceptional mastery. He knows how to use swords as a mighty warrior.
Many leaders have heart for work and people. That is good, but not enough. David led them with skillful hands. No amount of sincerity in the heart can compensate for the lack of skill in the hands. Leaders by God’s grace have to learn, develop, hone and improve on those skills to serve and lead their organizations.
Today, like the old times, God is looking for people who would lead with righteousness in leadership and personal living. Our country and the church need leaders with an upright heart coupled with skillful hands.