In 1 Samuel we learn that David was a man of good appearance (16:7, 12); he was a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, a handsome man, and the Lord is with him (16:18); he exhibited great courage in fighting wild animals as well as the giant (17:32-37); and we could go on listing his admirable qualities. Such qualities do make someone attractive.
In general, people are attracted to leaders, regardless of age, gender, or race, for one of three reasons. A leader can have positional authority. The Bible teaches that those in authority are there by God’s doing (Ps 75:6-7; Rom 13:1) and worthy of respect. With a leadership role comes visibility and power, both of which can be attractive to those watching or wanting something. Hopefully, the way a leader lives and leads from their position is for the good of those following. Positional authority can also have a cultural dimension. In many cultures around the world, authority rests exclusively with those who have a certain pedigree or are of a certain age. David had the former (lineage) but not the latter when he was initially attracting men.
People are also attracted to leaders because of their personal authority. By this we imply that the leader has gained likeability and credibility through competence, charisma, and character. In most leadership studies, integrity is the most sought after quality in an attractive leader. David seemed to shine in these areas except for a few times when his baser humanity dominated.
Although men were clearly attracted to David because of his positional and personal authority, what surely stood out above all else was David’s spiritual authority. He was a man who knew God experientially as well as theologically. I suspect that people chose to join him and continued to follow him because they sensed God’s anointing on his life (2 Sam 23:8-39).
After some immediate popularity, David went through several years of being chased by his adversary, Saul. During those years, David learned crucial lessons that guided his leadership throughout life. Trust and dependency upon God were foundational. Persevering through difficulties was essential. Living and leading from personal integrity was indispensable.
Mighty men sought him out and wanted to be on his team (1 Chr 11-12). Women found him physically attractive as well as authentic and desired his company (1 Sam 25; 2 Sam 11). David had capacity for deep friendships and was unashamed to show emotions (1 Sam 20:41). In short, David was great because of the men (and women) he attracted; and the reason men and women were attracted was largely due to his spiritual authority.
How does a person today develop spiritual authority? It does not come from being anointing with oil by a prophet/priest as Samuel did for David. We glean insight about spiritual authority from Peter and John in Acts 4:13 when their authority was attributed to having been with Jesus. They were empowered to speak the Word with boldness. They performed mighty acts that resulted in the healing of bodies and souls. They were sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Their enemies could not refute their spiritual authority.
What is your spiritual authority quotient? SAQ. It can be developed—not by more education or nurturing talent but only through the growing sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and having shared life experience with Jesus. Just as people were attracted to David and to Jesus because of their spiritual authority, people will want to follow you as a leader when you exude the same.
Next Blog: David was great when he inquired of the Lord.