Monday, August 15, 2011

leadership in tough times

And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son,
2 Samuel 1:17

David's strong emotion at the death of the house of Saul comes from two sources. First, David is weeping like any other Israelite, at the death of his king. He had sworn to protect the life of Saul. This was severely tested by Saul himself. He had made a unique covenant with the king, even in the worst days of running from Saul as an outlaw fugitive. It was a sad day for Israel with their king now dead in battle. As David deals with this news, he mourns the loss of Israel's leader.

The second reason for his sorrow is that Jonathan was also dead. In one family David had his bitter foe (Saul) and his best friend (Jonathan). And now his best friend is dead in battle as well. The lament that David leads for Jonathan is especially vivid and poignant. He knows that in the friendship with Jonathan, he experienced a unique king of surpassing love. Jonathan sacrificed his own claim to the throne. He risked his own life to save David's life. He trusted God more than his own position as crown prince in order to keep David alive. He vowed allegiance to David as God's next anointed king. And David was drawn to this heroism and courage. This friendship surpassed all others because of Jonathan's great sacrifice. And now, with his best and most courageous friend dead, David weeps.

The key components of David's next steps are apparent before him. The throne of Israel is now vacant. The people know he has been anointed as king. He has a good reputation as a hero and a military leader at a point where the nation is stinging from defeat. All he needs to do is step in and lead. But David is not a shrewd politician. He is a leader. And he shows real leadership by recognizing the national pain as well as his personal grief. He finds consolation in God and leads the troops and the nation through a proper expression of grief. Sometimes leadership is a sad thing because that is what a leader must experience with his people. In hard times, realistic leaders go through the pain, don't minimize it, but instead are strengthened with their people by it.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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