“Is there not a cause?” The answer to this question must be protected, at all costs by the effective leader. As we head into the new year, we leaders need to remember why God has entrusted us with the sacred stewardship of influence. Through the example of David as he stared down Goliath in 1 Samuel 17, we are reminded of the following transcendent truth: a position of influence is not the END but the MEANS to a divine CAUSE! To exert influence we must allow the cause of God to overcome two human hindrances:
The Hindrance of Human Opinion
Long before David got to Goliath, he first had to navigate all of the “interference” from those who should have been supportive/engaged in the cause of God themselves but were not!
Allow the divine cause to overcome opinionated criticism.
Two Manifestations of Criticism Overcome by THE CAUSE:
Criticism with Anger (28a)-A leader consumed with the cause of God will bring conviction and often defensive anger to others who are not and should be! Don’t allow others who know you best “belittle” your desire to be a part of God’s BIG WIN!
Criticism of Motives (28b)-To attempt to take on a great challenge WILL ALWAYS PROVOKE “a pretender in leadership” to question your motives!!!! Don’t allow the accusations of being naïve and insincere to keep you from believing in the cause of God and being an influential part of that cause. Why are the words of critics show sharp for those simply trying to lead out in God’s will? (I think I finally found the answer!) Listen to this quote: “… They were not really afraid. They were just afraid of being afraid.” (Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants)
Allow the divine cause to overcome opinionated doubts.
Two Manifestations of Desperation Overcome by THE CAUSE:
Doubts in Experience (32-37)-Faith in past events lends a believer courage to trust in the power of God to meet the crises of the present. I noticed a new mindset infiltrating the ranks of leadership-“It didn’t really happen unless it is posted on social.” (I think Saul with all his public sacrifices would have been very active on social media if he had access to it.) Your experience with God doesn’t have to be PUBLIC to count in the cause. What Saul didn’t realize and David did-The experience needed for the big moments is best gained in PRIVATE with God.
Doubts in Weaponry (38-40)-Since Saul was himself a large man, David must have been close to the same size. David does not say that he cannot wear the armor because it is too big, but rather because he is unaccustomed to it. The way to be a part of a big victory for the cause of God rarely requires some new, flashy technique or technology. It is, more often than not, just faithfully sticking with the “tried and true ways” of God. Don’t try to assuage with gimmicks the doubts that must be eradicated by a renewed confidence in God-ordained means like the “foolishness of preaching.”
Like David, leaders are simply those willing to STAND ALONE, despite the contrary opinions!
The Hindrance of Human Advantage
Allow the divine cause to overcome advantaged size.
Two Manifestations of Size Overcome by THE CAUSE:
Size of Profile (4-7)-A “cubit” measures eighteen inches and a “span” about nine, making Goliath about nine feet nine inches tall! Goliath wore a bronze helmet and a coat of scale armor weighing 5,000 shekels, that is, about 125 pounds, and bronze greaves. He was armed with a bronze javelin, and a long spear with a 15-pound iron tip! Those who lead for God look past the size of the “props” of the otherwise-intimidating enemy. “Big” profiles attempt to win more at the PERCEPTION LEVEL than at the ENGAGEMENT LEVEL. Battle “too big’s” by persevering through the initial sense of shock and awe.
Size of Ego (41-44)-Here we see the same description of David looked down upon by David’s brethren and even Samuel…but not by God. Because “man looketh on the outward appearance” (16:7), the least of us possess the greatest potential to gain GLORY FOR GOD in the eyes of man! Ultimately this cause was a battle between the gods of Philistia and the God of Israel. Those who lead, even when at a human disadvantage, are those that recognize the true enemy is spiritual and AGAINST GOD, NOT THEM!
Goliath’s strength is derived by the focus of everyone, until David, UPON FLESH!!!! Without the cause of God dominating your focus you will, over time, allow the critics and haters to define/limit your leadership potential! By the way, ultimately the size of Goliath, from David’s perspective, made him “unmissable!”
Allow the divine cause to overcome advantaged knowledge.
Sometimes we feel at a disadvantage not only on the “brawn” front, but also on the “brains” front.
Two Manifestations of Knowledge Overcome by THE CAUSE:
Knowledge of Battle (45-47)-Leaders know that God’s deliverance is just as viable when His people are at a human advantage-in fact that is when He is most likely to show up! David fought THAT ALL THE EARTH MAY KNOW the name of the Lord and the glory of the Lord. It wasn’t about David looking like a “know it all,” but all the earth knowing the First Cause of all things!
Knowledge of Intimidation (48-51)-Unencumbered by armor and emboldened by faith, David rushed into battle. There is a “lightness of foot” that comes when it is not about self-preservation but the CAUSE OF GOD! Lose the self-preservation and over-analysis that hinders you from engaging the enemy for the glory of God. What need had David to take a sword of his own? God is greatly glorified when his proud enemies are cut off with their own sword. What began as a tool of intimidation by the Philistines quickly became a trophy of intimidation for the otherwise-abstract God of heaven!!!!
While Goliath is measurable and tangible, our God, who can easily topple the giant, REMAINS ABSTRACT UNTIL…a singular leader becomes consumed with the answer to “Is there not a cause?” Fear will never lead us to a good place; faith in the cause will always lead us to victory. It usually only takes ONE LEADER to refocus God’s people from the giant to God! Even though Saul was officially king, it was David, a man consumed with the cause of God’s glory, that is actually leading in 1 Samuel 17:51-52.
Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. 52 And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron.
Leaders have followers. The best leaders have followers not of themselves but their all-encompassing cause. To be an empowered, effective leader in 2019 means to be consumed not with self-interest, preservation of position, or consolidation of power but the cause of God’s reputation before His people and the watching world.