Success – A Leader’s Greatest Challenge
In 2 Samuel 8 we read about David and how he handled his success as a leader. The following are several observations and principles that we can take away and apply to our own leadership should we experience success.
In vs 1-5 we see the listing of David’s initiatives against the Philistines, Moabites, and Arameans. The results are summarized in verse 6 – The Lord gave David victory wherever he went. David experienced great success in his military campaigns against the surrounding enemies of Israel. In fact, he had success in everything that he attempted.
The resulting success of his campaigns led to David becoming wealthy. Remember that this son of Jesse came from a family that raised sheep for a living. This new-found wealth came quickly and could have turned the heart of a lesser man. But we see David’s response in vs 11 – King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued…
His successful military campaigns and growing wealth led to the seemingly inevitable conclusion as to how he was viewed by others. In vs 13 we read – And David became famous… Personal fame for the successful leader is a challenge that many leaders face, just as David had to deal with.
In vs 15 we see how David led after experiencing successful leadership efforts, growing personal wealth, and increased personal fame – David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. This is one of the reasons why David is a hero of mine. He seemed to be able to handle success well.
Now immediately we are thinking of his low points in his adultery with Bathsheba or his counting of the army – yes, those were huge mistakes with huge consequences for his life and leadership. And yet, through it all, he recovered and did not let those personal failings derail him. He confessed his sin, humbled himself before God and men, and continued to lead. All failures need not be fatal!
David was real – he had great strengths, also some glaring weaknesses. Yet through it all he “did what was just and right for all his people.” How are you handling your success? Are you stewarding well God’s resources that have come your way due to this success? What goes on in your heart when people point out your successes or publicly praise you?
It happened that I’ve just read 2 Sa 8 this morning during my time with the Lord. And my attention was also on David’s way of ruling — “justice and equity to all his people” (vs 15).
When praised for something, I usually forward the glory to God by quoting 1 Cor 15:10a “[But] by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain…”