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The Character of a Leader | King David’s Leadership

King David’s leadership reminds us that our character, not our accomplishments, is the most important part of our leadership. Charisma may attract people, but a leader’s character wins their trust and loyalty. 

In 1 Samuel 13, God rejected Saul’s leadership because although he looked the part, he did not have the heart. Saul possessed all the outward qualities people look for in a strong leader. He was handsome, strong, and tall. But he lacked a courageous heart. 

Your inner character defines your leadership. God cares more about your heart than whether you look the part. By studying King David’s leadership, we can learn valuable lessons about the qualities God seeks in spirit-filled leaders.

4 Qualities of King David’s Leadership

David was a man after God’s own heart. After God dismissed Saul as king, He said, “But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”—1 Samuel 13:14. 

The prominent qualities in David’s character are not qualities we are naturally born with. We must choose to be filled with them each day. Throughout King David’s leadership, we see four consistent character traits that made him a man after God’s heart.

1 ) David had a heart of humility.

1 Peter 5:5 warns, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” God resisted Saul as king because he was prideful. He seeks leaders who have humble hearts like King David. 

Humility means simply recognizing your complete dependence on God. You cannot do anything apart from Him and need Him desperately. Without humility, leaders will abuse their authority and handle it irresponsibly. You are only qualified to be a leader once you have learned to be a follower. 

You can’t get over what God wants to put under you until you get under what God has put over you. Where there is no authority, there is anarchy. God can trust us with authority when He sees in us that we are willing to live under authority.

2 ) David had a heart of fidelity.

King David had a steadfast and loyal heart. He faithfully stewarded his basic responsibilities, so God trusted him with greater responsibilities. Matthew 25:29 promises, “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” 

God was strengthening King David’s leadership skills as David led his father’s sheep. As a true leader, you are a shepherd. Sheep follow a shepherd because they trust him. To have a heart of fidelity like King David, you must foster a trustworthy character.

God will give you greater things if you faithfully steward the small things. Are you someone God can trust with success?

A heart resting on the ground representing King David’s leadership and courageous heart.

3 ) David had a heart that beat courageously.

If leaders are weak and cowardly, their people will lack direction and confidence. Before he became king, David boldly faced the Philistine giant Goliath and defeated him. When David arrived at the frontlines of the battle, he found a group of terrified soldiers and a timid leader. They had camped opposite the Philistines for 40 days, and no bold soldier had emerged to fight the giant Goliath. The Israelites’ situation was hopeless until a leader arose to fight their battle.

David entered the battle against Goliath armed with a sling, five smooth stones, and unshakable confidence in the Lord of hosts. He defeated the giant because God’s power filled him. The Hebrews were afraid to fight Goliath because they forgot the God they served. David’s boldness and obedience gave them the confidence to route the Philistine army and take back the ground the giant had claimed. 

David lived fearlessly for God because he had a heart full of faith in God. He was convinced God would do whatever He had said. Leaders lead and live fearlessly when they have faith in what God can do.

4 ) David had a heart that longed to be holy.

We can see King David’s heart in the psalms he wrote. He committed many sins against God, including adultery and murder. But in Psalm 24:3-4, he recognizes his sin, takes responsibility, and repents completely: “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully.” 

God saw a holy heart in King David because he did not rationalize, make excuses, or blame others for his sin. He chose to take responsibility and repent to have clean hands and a pure heart before God. 

King David’s leadership reminds us that our failures are not final. Repentance brings restoration and redemption. Jesus restores what is lost, and all He looks for is a repentant and sincere heart (Psalm 51:4).

Takeaway

God has called you to be a leader in His kingdom (1 John 2:27). When you receive the Son of God, you accept the spirit of God. But you only get to walk in that anointing when you get off the bench and onto the battlefield. Like He did with David, God is calling us to worship, and He’s calling us to war. Developing the characteristics of King David’s leadership requires us to allow the Holy Spirit to get a hold of us and lead us so we can become spirit-filled leaders. 

Are you seeking ways to grow your leadership skills and increase your influence? Click here to watch videos from our Leadership Summit and learn timeless leadership principles from pastors, teachers, and leaders at Abundant Life.