Leadership, as a concept, is easy to accept, but in practice is difficult to maintain.
From Scripture, David is a leader who embodies the practices of modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart. A great passage of scripture emphasizing these characteristics of leadership is found in 1 Samuel 20. Here in this passage we find David’s relationship strained with Saul which in essence is challenging a process. Saul was the anointed king of Israel who had not followed God’s commands. David was to be the successor, not Saul’s son. But, within that tension, there is a great friendship with Jonathan, Saul’s son that speaks of a shared vision and enabling others to act. 1 Samuel 20:16 NIV says, “May the Lord call David’s enemies to account.” Jonathan is accepting the enemies of David as his own. In accepting David’s leadership, Jonathan is participating in that vision. David has modeled the way in his leadership through his faithfulness to Jonathan even considering the tension within the family.
It is sometimes easy to know what to do, but to have the courage to follow through with it is the mark of a leader.
Finally, the encouragement of the heart is found in 1 Samuel 20:41-42. Here we find David and Jonathan acknowledging that they were going to be separated but that they still remained friends and family. A telling fact in this last exchange is the phrase, “but David wept the most.” (1 Samuel 16:41b). As the leader, David knew how difficult this was going to be and wanted to offer as much encouragement to strengthen Jonathan throughout the friendship. Then, David left. He had to leave. For the sake of their friendship, for the sake of his future, David knew that he could not remain and would have to carry on. Once again, we find David making the “hard choice” and modeling it for his friend.
It is sometimes easy to know what to do, but to have the courage to follow through with it is the mark of a leader. As a leader, I have often found it difficult to lead people during difficult times because of the cost that I knew would come. This part of the reading has encouraged me to take the time for the encouragement, the sharing, the enabling. Personally, I jump very quickly into the modeling and challenging and I do not often take time for the complete process.
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2004) Christian Reflections on the Leadership Challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.