3 Lessons of Legitimate Leadership

king davidTo some degree or another, we all want to be in control. Some of us want to be in control of much and some of us are satisfied being in control of a little. Whether it’s an opportunity to lead and control a vast array of resources or the autonomy of controlling our own destiny, there is a common denominator that is required of us to be stewards of whatever we influence. To legitimately reign over anything with security and anointing, we are required to be submitted.

A friend of mine in the army used to say, “Whenever you have to tell others that you are in charge, it’s obvious that you are not in charge.” In other words, if we have to operate from positional authority, we have no leadership legitimacy.

I saw this in the life of King David recently. Consider the following exchange between King David and his wife in 2 Samuel 6:20-21, following David’s shameless celebration at the arrival of the Arc of the Covenant:

“. . . Michal the daughter of Saul came out to meet David and said, “How the king of Israel honored himself today, uncovering himself today before the eyes of his servants’ female servants, as one of the vulgar fellows shamelessly uncovers himself!” And David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the Lord—and I will celebrate before the Lord.” (emphasis added)

Michal uses David’s position as king to try to shame him at his abandon in his worship of the Lord. She sarcastically makes her point by contrasting how she believes royalty should conduct itself vs. the chosen behavior of a son celebrating his Father.

David, however, doesn’t refer to himself as king, but as prince. David is the king, and while David recognizes his royal identity he does so in the context of a ruler under the authority of the King. David refers to himself in a secondary position as a prince to the King of Kings. David doesn’t have to be in charge to be in charge; he defers to the majesty and rule of God.

Three leadership lessons from this glimpse into the rule of King David:

  1. The legitimacy of leadership is in a heart of submission as it’s the humble heart that is prepared to rule.
  2. Humble leaders rule from a place of security and don’t have to position and maneuver as he/she isn’t insecure in what could be perceived as faults.
  3. Secure leaders don’t scramble to protect their domain when others attack them because they recognize their Source of authority and legitimacy.

Leaders lead because it’s their design and in doing so, they recognize the privilege of leadership as a gift of their Designer. The exercise of authority is one of humility, not accomplishment. Leadership is received and honored, not flaunted or protected.


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