Times of problems, crisis and tragedy are often leadership’s defining moments. Rudy Giuliani’s leadership skills were not only defined by 9/11, they were also revealed. What do you do in those crisis moments? How do you get ready for them ahead of time?
Reading through the Bible in a year led me to David in 1 Samuel 30. When David and his men return home, they find it burned, looted and worse of all their wives and children missing. The writer makes an interesting observation on how David responds to this crisis, and how his men respond.
1 Samuel 30:6 says, 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.
Notice the 2 responses. David’s followers have a bitter spirit because of their children being gone, that’s understandable. They are mad at David, ready to kill him. Tragedy can easily lead to that response for most people.
But let’s learn from David’s response: David found strength in the LORD his God. That’s a leadership difference. Not because David has the position (though he did), it’s because he has the passion for God’s wisdom that makes the difference, that defines his leadership in this moment.
Where do you find strength when problems come in life? As one wise person told me, “You are either going into a problem, in the midst of a problem, or coming out of a problem.” As leaders we need to be ready for the sake of our family, our church, our work and ourselves. Here’s how David leads me to find leadership strength for life’s defining moments.
1. Seek the bigger picture God is painting. The natural tendency is to look into yourself when pain comes, to focus on the hurt or any way to make the hurt go away. David’s followers look into their pain, and are bitter. David looks up to God and finds strength. They both faced the same tragedy. They both respond with different attitudes that lead to different approaches. They look to take out their bitterness on David, while David will look to God for a solution.
2. Draw deep into your relationship with God and the story He is writing in history and in your life. David has “history” with God. God “anointed” him to be king. God delivered him from the lion and the bear, from a giant named Goliath and a crazy king named Saul. David was not ready to let this tragedy define his life, but drew deeply from God’s purpose for his life. When tragedy comes, faith is tested. The time to find strength is before the times call for strength. Fill your well deep in your relationship with God. Defining moments squeeze you, and whatever is in the sponge will get squeezed out of you whether bitterness or belief.
3. Live for the line not for the dot. One way to see our life in more of a divine perspective is to recognize how long our earthly life is when compared to eternity. If you live even for a 100 years, what is that compared to a billion years of eternity? A dot, that’s what. If eternity is the line that never begins nor ends, life on this earth is a dot. People love their dot, live for their dot, and when they think that the dot is all there is, tragedy knocks them down and sometimes out. But we live for the line. We know God has a greater purpose. We know tragedy is not the end. We know God ultimately wins.
4. Lay out your heart before God and follow His heart in what to do next. David reveals his strengthening process in the psalms. He is honest when he’s mad at God, in love with God, wondering what God is doing, or seeking where God is leading. God invites us to do the same. He’s a big God. He can handle whatever we throw His way. Just remember no matter what He is always ready to offer His love, His forgiveness, His grace, His presence, His peace.
Finding strength in God leads David to seek God’s response to the tragedy. The end result in this case is triumph. Families reunited. Such an abundance of loot that David sends gifts to villages throughout Judah. And soon David will be king. God will again have the last word and the best word.
Perhaps you find yourself in a problem this day or maybe its just a good day to get ready for when the challenges come. Let’s continue the conversation. Where do you find your strength in tough times? How are you getting ready for life’s defining moments?