David was one of the most successful leaders of Israel and Judah and the one of the few who God commented for being a man after God’s own heart. His style of leadership was unique and is sharply contrasted with the style of leadership of the other leaders of Judah and Israel. His display of godly character and ability to do what pleased God rather than men made him to stand out as a model leader (Towns, 2007). This paper discusses the leadership style of David with a focus on how he modeled growing leadership. Discussion
When David is a young boy, he is already showing leadership by tending his father Jesse’s sheep. His ability to lead sheep well is what later culminated in his ability to be a brave warrior - leading Israel and Judah in war (Towns, 2007). After his anointing, he goes about tending sheep where he displays leadership by killing lions and bears that come to attack the sheep. He even shows greater leadership ability by doing two tasks at a time – tending sheep and then going off to Saul the king to play him the harp so the evil spirit could stop troubling him.
His most important show of leadership is when he triumphantly kills Goliath, the defiant Philistine warrior who has defied the armies of God. Having developed the character of resilience and bravery through his encounters with bears and lions in the grazing fields, David sees Goliath as being no different an enemy from bears and lions. He leads the entire Israelite army into gaining very important victory against their enemies and so takes away the shame of the entire nation. This is in spite the opposition of the people to his desire to fight Goliath.
He chooses to ignore their opposition and instead focuses on the goal and the reward to be attained; for he was promised the king’s daughter as a wife if he prevailed over Goliath (1 Samuel 17:1-58). By doing this, David proved to be an initiator of change. When Saul’s envy for David becomes so intense that he plots to kill him, David does not in any way seek to harm him even when he has the opportunity. Instead, he runs from Saul, sparing him on several occasions even when it is in his power to kill him (Towns, 2007). Before running away from Saul, David is able to lead the people of Israel to war where he is very successful.
Unlike Saul who often sent the people to war while remaining behind, David went with the people to war, leading them to fight against their enemies. Using this style of leadership, he was able to kill more enemies of Israel than Saul (1 Samuel 18:7). This is the origin of Saul’s envy for him. Even in captivity, David displays his leadership skills there. As he is in the desert with his men, he ensures that they are provided for. For instance, when they run out of food, he uses diplomatic approaches to request Nabal for bread.
But when Nabal disobeys, David leads his men to attack him and take all he has, including his wife Abigail. Here, David shows leadership as being a diplomatic aspect where one does not have to impose anything or use force unnecessarily. Only when diplomacy failed did he ever use force. David also ensures that God is built a place of worship - the temple. When God tells him this is the work of his son, David ensures that all preparations are made so Solomon does not find any difficulties building the temple of God. He portrays his ability to share his vision with others, a mark of growing leadership.
He also grooms his son Solomon to take over the kingship. David also ensured that other people took part in what was important. He helped people to achieve their goals in battle and in life. For instance, he made commander the man who led the attack on Jerusalem, then a fortified city (1 Chronicles 11:6). He also ensured that before he acted, he had all the necessary counsel from his men. For instance, when he wanted to bring the Ark of the Covenant from Philistine territory, he found out the best way to go about it and readily accepted the advice he was given.
David also manages to encourage people when they are discouraged. When the Amalekites attack their camp and carry off their wives and children, David’s men are discouraged and are at the point of giving up and withdrawing their loyalty to him. Although greatly distressed as well, David rises o the occasion. He seeks the counsel of God and fearlessly pursues the Amalekites. Upon defeating them and taking back all they had captured, David does not seek retribution against those who failed to go with him to fight Amalek.
Instead, he affirms every man for the victory. He is so selfless a leader and has a heart for people. He even grieves when a rival warrior is killed (1 Samuel 30:5-25). Finally, David always asks his commanders to be careful to avoid shedding blood unnecessarily (Towns, 2007). He grooms these commanders to be like himself – selfless, compassionate, and fair. On this basis, therefore, it can be concluded that David was a unique leader who particularly modeled growing kind leadership.