When the historians wrote of David’s life, they did so with much admiration. What he contributed to his generation was astounding. How does one live to serve the purposes of God in his or her generation (Acts 13:36) and leave such a legacy? It requires having a heart after God. And, developing a heart after God will be in direct proportion to the quantity and quality of time invested with God. I want to introduce what I believe is a major flaw for many leaders.
I suspect that when most people think about time with God, they think about talking to Him. In Proverbs 15:8 we learn that the prayer of the upright is His delight. So by asking or inquiring of God, we delight Him. But, as any parent (or grandparent) knows, a love relationship involves more than asking. It involves shared time and experiences together.
During David’s early life as a shepherd, he cultivated a habit for reflection and meditation and enjoying time with God. We observe such a posture continuing after he was anointed and when he eventually became recognized as God’s choice of king.
In particular, we see that David disengaged from his disheartening situation at Ziklag after the wives, children, and possessions were taken captive by the Amalekites (1 Sam 30). He found strength from the Lord for making the needed decisions. In another difficult time when his sons were in rebellion (2 Sam 13), David’s reflection and processing of how his sin complicated life is apparent by his disposition. Also, after his crisis with Bathsheba and Uriah (2 Sam 12), he apparently resisted reflection but eventually came to his senses and through deep reflection, he repented (Ps 32, 51). We learn that David did not use reflection as a leadership practice only in times of trouble but when there was peace he practiced reflection as well. This was how his dream to build a house for God came to pass (2 Sam 7). We can only assume this reflective practice was often repeated resulting in Psalms of thanks and praise.
The art of reflection is essential for effective leadership. Wise men and women, extroverts as well as introverts, will intentionally disengage on a regular basis to refocus their perspective and replenish their inner strength for the complicated responsibility of leadership. When times for reflection are few, a leader is far more susceptible to making poor decisions. Even David, a man after God’s heart, was all too human in illustrating both the benefits of and consequences for the lack of reflection.
Building upon the habitual practice of being with God, David was able to inquire with sincere motives that flowed from a lifestyle of intimacy with his Shepherd. Seeking and inquiring of the Lord became a hallmark of David (1 Sam 22:10). Also see 1 Sam 22:13; 23:2,4; 30:8; 2 Sam 2:1; 5:19, 23; 14:10; 1 Chr 14:10,14. By contrast, the only mention of this practice with Saul is that he did not inquire of the Lord (1 Chr 10:14) or that the Lord did not answer him (1 Sam 28:6). In 1 Sam 27:8 and following David did not inquire of the Lord and so these killings were murder.
What is your habitual practice of disengaging from the routine of leadership and life to draw near to God in an undistracted way? How often do you make this a priority? Weekly, monthly, quarterly? What support do you need to ensure that this priority is not compromised? Spouse, supervisor, friend? All great leaders take time for reflection. Great Christian leaders inquire of the Lord from a habitual practice of disengagement with reflection. When is your next scheduled time to do so??