Son of Jesse, The Lord’s Anointed
Leadership Traits of the World’s Greatest Leader (second to Jesus)
Shepherd at Heart
“And he said, ‘There remains yet the youngest, and behold, he is tending the sheep,’” (16:11).
David was a true shepherd and not just a hired hand like Jesus talked about in John 10:12-13. Jesus said a hireling is one who hasn’t invested his heart into the wellbeing of the sheep but would flee at the first sign of trouble, caring only to save his own tail. Then the wolf will kill and scatter the sheep. David, rather, was one who loved his sheep and took care of them as if they were his own children. He risked his own life to save his lambs from the mouths of lions and bears with his own bare hands. He killed the beasts so they could not return to attack his flock again (17:34-35). He was a protector of the weak and innocent.
This shepherd-heart remained in David as he advanced through the stages of his higher calling. He saw all of Israel like sheep without a shepherd being paralyzed with fear as they had fallen prey to Goliath. He even chased down Goliath wearing his shepherd’s clothing, which was a staff and a shepherd’s bag (17:40), as he was about to kill this predator. David carried this same compassionate heart that led him to adopt the broken people of society and lead them into greatness (22:2). And it was this quality that showed God that David could be entrusted with a nation. “He also chose David His servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from the care of the ewes with suckling lambs He brought him to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance. So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands,” (Psalms 78:70-72).
David was faithful to give his whole heart to shepherding those God entrusted him with regardless of the level of position. He didn’t care about the position; he cared about doing well with what he was responsible for. He was a good steward of the affairs of God and was promoted to greater levels of leadership. It’s like when God says, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord,” (Matthew 25:21 NKJV). The Lord saw David’s pure heart in loving his “flocks” and continued giving him more and more people to lavish this godly love upon.
If we want to be good shepherds, we also need to learn from the greatest Shepherd, Jesus Christ. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep,” (John 10:11). “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep,” (John 10:14-15). “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand,” (John 10:27-28). Good leaders are good shepherds.
The following are some of the qualities of shepherds. They:
- care for people who need help and guidance and take time to provide it
- create an atmosphere of safety and peace for those who either can’t defend themselves or aren’t able to see danger impending
- fight for the ones they love
- have compassion on the broken and hopeless
- find ways to bring justice to the oppressed
- see the potential in unlikely people and draw it out of them
- lead people into their destinies with integrity
- lay down their lives to serve the people they lead
- do these things for the benefit of those they lead, not for personal gain
- do these things because they know it’s right, not because they are fulfilling a role
- are faithful to the responsibility of caring for the lives of those they lead regardless of the status of their position