What qualities would you consider important for a leader to have? If it were a church group, you would want good character. A work group would want their leader to be competent.

What if you were leading the greatest band of warriors the world has ever known? Then, you might want to add brute strength, cunning and skill to that list.

King David had the honor of leading just such a group. There were 37 men in the group that the Bible calls David’s Mighty Men. “Men like Josheb-Basshebeth who killed 800 men in one encounter, and Eleazar and Shammah who singlehandedly defeated invading bands of Philistines. Abishai killed 300 men with his spear and Benaiah jumped into a pit with a lion and killed it” (2 Samuel 23:18-20).

Now David possessed plenty of good leadership qualities, and he did kill a giant with a rock; but, this was a herculean group of warriors that were willing to give their lives for him. So willing that once when the Philistines had taken the city of Bethlehem and David and his men were by the cave of Adullam, David commented, “’Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!’ So three of his mighty men broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David” (2 Samuel 23:15-16a). Wow! That’s Devotion!

What did David do? “But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord” (2 Samuel 23:16b).

The first thought would be,“Whoa! If I risked my life for that drink, he better not pour it on the ground!” It would be better if he said, “Wow guys! You didn’t have to do that! That’s awesome! Thank you!”

But, instead David said, “‘Far be it from me, O Lord, to do this!’ he said. ‘Is it not the blood of men who went out at the risk of their lives?’ And David would not drink it” (2 Samuel 23:17).

David displayed the greatest leadership principle of all–humbleness. He valued his men’s lives such that he didn’t feel worthy of what they just did for him. That love and respect for his men–his mighty men–was why David was such a great leader. He considered their lives as more precious than his own and this drink of water, then, had become so valuable that he no longer felt worthy to drink it. That is a valuable lesson for us all, for we will all have our turn at leading. The day you feel worthy of followers, you’re not.

Lead with wisdom and strength. Be of good character and be competent at what you do, but, above all, consider others as greater than yourself and greatness will follow you, too.



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