A Kingdom Leader is wholly submitted to God, called and appointed by God, and equipped and empowered by God to fulfill the station of influence and authority to which they have been appointed.
In God’s Kingdom, leaders will undoubtedly experience both the highs of victory and the lows of defeat. How we as leaders define victory and defeat, as well as our perspective on the resulting gains and losses, is directly connected to how they impact our life.
King David certainly felt the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. As he neared the end of reign as king, he experienced the pain of agonizing loss. This particular loss, as recorded in 2 Samuel 24 and 1 Chronicles 21, was not endured on the battlefield in the face of an enemy. Instead, this loss resulted in 70,000 of his people being slain in a matter of three days – by the hand of the Lord!
David’s sin had kindled the Lord’s anger, and the result was devastating loss. Granted, the loss of 70,000 lives was significant, but in God’s economy, we are not given the right to define victory and defeat. Neither are we afforded the luxury of everything making sense. God strategically reduced the size of David’s tribe at a critical time in his reign. Of all the achievements during David’s rule, the most important element in God’s eyes was his submission and its impact on those near him. Even when it hurt and didn’t make sense, would David continue to submit? In this case, King David chose the posture of submission. While the loss of life was substantial by earthly measure, it produced a significant gain for God’s Kingdom – the heart of a wholly submitted leader.
Truly one of the foundational principles of God’s Kingdom is that it operates in reverse order from that of human logic. It’s an upside-down economy where humility leads to growth and servanthood is the highest place of honor. King David was indeed called and appointed by God as a leader of His people. The true measure of his leadership success was not quantifiable by human means, however. The dramatic reduction in the size of David’s tribe, which also included some of his army, was just the ingredient God needed to fulfill David’s leadership calling.
One of the greatest desires of David’s life had been to build a temple for the presence of God, and that time was indeed drawing near. While God was pleased with his intention, the great bloodshed at the hands of his leadership actually forfeited that dream from becoming a reality in his lifetime.
A submitted heart, the true temple of the Lord
Had David ended his time on earth with a large and “successful” army according to human measure, it’s probable he would have coasted to the finish line, relying more on his own power than on God’s presence. He likely would have built the temple of which he had longed dreamt, but God was longing for the submitted heart of the man more than the structure the man desired to build. God wanted the temple of his heart, not the one made by his hands. In order for this to become a reality, God needed to reduce one thing in order to increase something else. This was precisely one of the tools God used to equip and empower King David to effectively steward his position of influence and authority.
Earthly reduction can equal Kingdom increase!
From this Old Testament story, we can glean two key Kingdom leadership principles:
The greatest success of a Kingdom Leader is not to complete a long list of desired accomplishments, but rather to be wholly submitted to God.
When submitted to the Lord, a loss by earthly measure is actually a key ingredient for the advancement of God’s Kingdom.
In God’s Kingdom, the highest priority is always people, not tasks. As mentioned above, a wholly submitted leader’s heart is perfectly positioned to advance God’s Kingdom. This advancement will always involve raising up and positioning the next generation for success. Indeed, King David completed a lot of worthy tasks, and desired to complete the construction of the temple as one last major accomplishment. God used David’s life, however, to emphasize the priority of people in His Kingdom. It would be David’s son, Solomon, who completed the task of the temple instead of his father. This was true Kingdom success!
A New Testament example
Another leader who demonstrated the relationship between gain and loss was the Apostle Paul. Prior to his radical conversion, we know that Paul was essentially perfect in his religious practice. There were few, if any, who exceeded his religious qualifications. Following his conversion, however, it became convincingly clear that all of the qualifications and accomplishments he claimed were simply counted as loss for the sake of Christ. He understood these Kingdom principles better than anyone! His mission shifted from the growth of his own position as a leader to the growth of new churches and disciples in order to raise up the next generation in God’s Kingdom!
In God’s Kingdom, leaders are not defined by size of their following, or the evidence of their accomplishments. Kingdom leaders are defined by their submission to God and the influence they have on the people near them.
- What victories and defeats are you experiencing? Have you considered the much bigger story unfolding in the midst of them?
- When was the last time you submitted yourself and your organization to the Lord? Could it be this is a daily practice you should employ?
- Who are the people in your close sphere of influence who are directly being impacted by your commitment to submission?
As you consider these questions, we would love to hear from you! May we together advance the Kingdom…at work!
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