The Forge of Leadership Mettle

source: flaxton forge
source: flaxton forge

David was greatly distressed because the men were talking of stoning him; each one was bitter in spirit because of his sons and daughters. But David found strength in the Lord his God. 1 Samuel 30:6 (NIV)

I just finished directing a community theatre production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Being in charge of a production of any size is a test of a person’s leadership abilities. As a director you have teams of people all working under your leadership in a boilercooker schedule. The results of your  success or failure are up on stage, in front of the public for all to see. I have been involved in many productions over my lifetime and have directed a number of them. I know the feeling of having people so mad they want to stone you. I have also been on the other side of that coin. I have worked with many talented directors, and there have been a few that I have personally wanted to stone.

In today’s chapter we find David continuing in his own boilercooker of leadership development. For years now he has been an outlaw and outcast from his own country, living on the lam with a price on his head. He and his band of 600 fellow outlaws signed up as mercenary free agents with a neighboring country, but they were benched by the king and sent packing from the battle. This was not a small matter. Battle and plunder was how these men made their living and they just got laid off.

David’s approval rating with his men (who were rough individuals living on the fringe to begin with) had taken a serious hit. David’s men were already angry and frustrated with missing out on the battle and plunder of the Philistine battle, but now they return to their base camp to find their own homes burned to the ground. Their posessions had been plundered and their families taken captive. The situation for those six hundred men had gone from bad to worse. First they got laid off from their job and now they find their homes destroyed and everything they own taken from them, including their wives and children. Since the Garden of Eden our human nature responds to crisis by seeking out someone to blame for our troubles. Here are six hundred rough and tumble warriors as angry as stirred up hornets, and there sits David with a huge target on his back.

I believe history has taught us that great leaders are not made in times of peace and prosperity. Great leaders are forged in the heat of tragedy and crisis. God continues to hone and sharpen David’s leadership abilities between the hammer and anvil of dire and difficult circumstances. There is a lesson for all of us in this at every level of leadership whether you are parent of a child, captain of an intramural team, CEO of a corporation, director of a community theatre production, or President of the United States. We will find ourselves in times of crisis whether they be small or great. We will not always be popular with those under our leadership. We will find ourselves unjustly blamed for others’ pain or failure. These things are part and parcel of the mantel of leadership.

The true test of a leader’s mettle is how he or she responds to the challenge.

2 thoughts on “The Forge of Leadership Mettle”

  1. 17 David and his men rushed in among them and slaughtered them throughout that night and the entire next day until evening.

    Can you imagine fighting hand-to-hand combat for 18 hours? My initial thought when reading this is that America is soft. You know what, as a culture we are. However, our best military men and women have and could do the same. They are the best trained in the world. I am thankful for them and their service. Our great military has allowed the rest of us to be the soft people we are. Thank you military!

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