The courage of your convictions

When is a leader not a leader?

When he is too easily led by the opinions of others.

In his sermon on Sunday, my dad preached about David sparing, for a second time, the life of King Saul (1 Samuel 26). Saul had been trying to kill David for several years by this point, forcing him and his followers to spend their lives as fugitives living in caves or wherever they could find shelter, all because of Saul’s jealousy of David’s gifts, faith and anointing.

David comes across Saul asleep, with his spear beside him. It would have been the work of a moment to run the king through and claim the crown for himself.  In fact, his companion urged him to do so – perhaps he suggested that this was the way God was going to fulfil His promise to David and make him king.  It certainly must have seemed that way to David.  But David didn’t succumb to the temptation this time any more than he had a couple of chapters earlier; he refused to lay a hand on the one whom God had anointed as king. 

He was able to stick to this principle, my dad suggested, because of two similar but slightly different character traits; consistency and constancy.  The dictionary.com definition of these traits reads:

con·sist·en·cy

–noun,
steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc. 

con·stan·cy

–noun,
the quality of being unchanging or unwavering, as in purpose, love, or loyalty; firmness of mind; faithfulness.

Maybe some of his followers wished David wasn’t so principled, unwavering and faithful, I’m sure many of them were frustrated by the length of time it was taking for their dreams to be fulfilled. They knew David was a better king than Saul, they must have been desperate to get him on the throne, but David knew better than to circumvent God’s timing. His people might be frustrated, but better that than a displeased God.

 
A key moment in Welcome to Thebes came when Euridice, newly-elected president of a war-torn nation, was faced with the question of whether or not to bury the body of one of her arch-enemies who had been found dead.  Her principle had always been that the worst of the rebels should not be honoured with a decent burial, but left for carrion. Some of her opponents, though, saw this as an opportunity to divide the people and played on their sympathies and empathies, whipping up a crowd to protest.
 
Euridice was torn – should she bow to the demands of the mob in order to keep the fragile peace, or stick to her principles in order to maintain her authority?
 
As with many plot-lines in the play, this wasn’t fully developed, circumstances moved on and the question was never really answered, but my impulse was to encourage her to stick to her guns.  People, especially in such a volatile environment, need to know that when their leader says yes, she means yes, and when she says no, she means no.  A leader who is ‘blown and tossed by the wind’ is no leader at all; he’s merely a follower with a corner office or a crown.
 
There is, of course, the question of the delicate balance between holding to your principles and being teachable and able to change when you discover you’re wrong, but that’s for another post.  For today, remember the lesson of David, and hold to what you know is right, even when it seems you’d be more popular with man if you changed your course.
5 Comments On This Topic
  1. newsong40
    on Aug 11th at 9:25 am

    Sorry to anyone who read this earlier and saw the funky formatting and missing definition – not sure what happened, but it seems to be back now!

    Reply
  2. Peter P
    on Aug 13th at 7:35 pm

    Wow. There’s a lot to think about there.

    Thanks, Jen!

    Reply
  3. Joy
    on Aug 13th at 7:44 pm

    Wisdom is knowing when those around you are right and when they are not. I’m definitely not there yet.

    Reply
    • newsong40
      on Aug 14th at 10:58 am

      Very good point, Joy, thanks!
      No, I’m not there yet, either. A very worthy goal, though.

      Reply

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter Pollock, Matt Appling. Matt Appling said: RT @PeterPollock: Do you have the courage to stick to your guns and do what you know is right? http://su.pr/2JCei0 […]

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