Written by: Bill Elliff
Leadership is hard. There is an art to helping people accomplish the next important thing. And it’s possible to think you’re leading and look behind you and no one is there! One man said that if you’re leading and no one is following you’re just taking a walk! So how do you take others with you to accomplish what matters?
David was one of the greatest leaders in human history. His reign in Israel was the highpoint of her history and one of the greatest moments in all of human history. He is a brilliant illustration of gaining consensus in leadership.
Then David consulted with the captains of the thousands and the hundreds, even with every leader. David said to all the assembly of Israel, “If it seems good to you, and if it is from the Lord our God, let us send everywhere to our kinsmen who remain in all the land of Israel, also to the priests and Levites who are with them in their cities with pasture lands, that they may meet with us; and let us bring back the ark of our God to us, for we did not seek it in the days of Saul.” Then all the assembly said that they would do so, for the thing was right in the eyes of all the people. (1 Chronicles 13:1-4)
EXALT GOD AS LEADER
David’s main criteria, from beginning to end, was God’s initiation and leadership (“If it is from the Lord our God” vs. 2). If a leader maintains this posture throughout and on every subsequent decision, he will gain tremendous leadership capital among his team and people. They will come to know that God is leading them through their leaders. They will learn this principle also for their own sphere of leadership.
START WITH THE LEADERS
David began by consulting with the top leaders (“Then David consulted with the captains of the thousands and the hundreds” vs. 1). It is always unwise to announce initiatives or take leadership steps that are a surprise to your top leadership team. Nothing makes them feel more useless and unappreciated. Also, a leader who doesn’t think his key leaders can contribute something to the equation is a fool for “in abundance of counselors there is victory” (Proverbs 11:14)
BROADEN THE CIRCLE
David moved in concentric circles by making sure the next step was meeting with everyone responsible to lead (“even with every leader” vs. 1). Not only does this test the waters (i.e., if it doesn’t fly with the leaders, it probably won’t work with the whole group you’re seeking to lead), but it makes these leaders feel valuable to the team. And, it gives a chance to hone the initiative even more before it is presented to the whole crowd.
COMMUNICATE WELL TO THE GROUP
David now took the vision to the people, but couched it in terms that made them feel a part of the equation (“If it seems good to you” vs. 2). He didn’t say, “We’ve made this decision, now let’s move” but said it in a way that made the people sense that if they had an objection it could be heard. I do think (as other places indicate) that if David believed it was of God he would have moved even in the face of opposition from some people. But his leadership here shows an open, transparent spirit which helps gain leadership with others. There is a gracious style about his leadership.
MAKE SURE THE MISSION MATTERS
Everyone wants to be involved in something valuable. David didn’t call his people together for every little decision, but this step was a central moment for the nation. It demanded national consensus and national involvement (“Let us bring back the ark of our God to us” vs. 3).
People are not dumb. When we ask them to join us in something that is self-centered or silly, we will find them balking. There is a huge difference between “Let’s increase our attendance” and “Let’s reach more people so lives can be changed.” Make sure the mission is worthy of the people’s time and attention. And most importantly that it’s God’s mission, not yours.
(copyright Bill Elliff, all rights reserved)
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