2 Samuel 11:1-5 (NIV)
11 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joabout with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
2 One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, 3 and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” 4 Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. 5 The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
John 10:11-14 (NIV)
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.
In 2 Samuel 11, David didn’t go off to war, as most kings did during the springtime; instead, he sent others out to do the fighting and remained at home in Jerusalem. While at home, he fell into terrible sin with Bathsheba, but the king’s sin didn’t start when he committed adultery with her. It didn’t start with his seeing her bathing from his roof. It started when David tried to lead his army from a distance.
Most of us face the temptation to chase after the authority of leadership, but not the responsibility. Who doesn’t love being the one who gets the say? Who doesn’t hate being the one who gets the blame? There is no positive biblical role model for distant leadership. David’s example reveals the dangers to us when it comes to leading from a distance.
God perfectly modeled close leadership for us in the form of Jesus. Christ came down and dwelt among us. He became our Immanuel “God with us.” But then He laid down His life for us as the Good Shepherd.
When we practice biblical leadership, we are intimately involved in the lives of those under our care. We aren’t using them as stepping stones for our advancement; instead we are helping them become building blocks for God’s kingdom by our encouragement and presence. They are spurred on in the roles that God has given them because they recognize our sacrifice on their behalf.
If we stay behind the fray, we demonstrate a lack of desire to serve those for whom we are responsible. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples. Leaders serve, and you can’t do that from a distance. Nor can you serve if you are hungry for power or control. But, if leaders become servants, investing in the well-being of those under their care, it would make a real impact.
Max Dupree, an American business leader in the 19th century, once said, “Leaders don’t inflict pain; they bear pain.”
I want us to take a minute and try to think about a servant leader we have known in our lives. How would you describe them? What was it like to be led by them?
For me, I think of Dan McCarney. Dan was a great leader because he would always come to you at a level that you could understand. He never asked us to do anything that he was not willing to do himself. He always stood beside us and never tried to tower over us. We always knew that he had our backs no matter what. He may get mad at us at times, but he always had our very best interests in mind. When I think of a great servant leader, I think of Dan.
Have you ever been tempted to use the people you led? What have been some benefits of serving those you have led? As we are put into roles of leadership, we should try to be servant leaders and lead those we are leading, like we would want to be led. We need to lead like Jesus did. May we love those we lead just a Jesus has loved us.