“So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.” Psalm 78:72, NKJV
I love how this verse describes the characteristics of one of the Bible’s greatest leaders, King David, who led the children of Israel for many years. The secret to the success of his leadership was based on an equal balance of his heart and his hands. Or we could say it like this—his integrity and his leadership skills.
#1 Leading with the integrity of heart.
One of the most valuable assets any leader can bring to his or her team is trust. Trust takes years to build, but it can be lost in seconds. And once it’s lost, it can take years to rebuild and sometimes trust never returns to the level it once was. That’s why it’s so important as a leader to build a culture of trust in an organization, and that trust starts at the top. It seems that before someone can trust your judgment they have to be able to trust your heart.
I love the prayer that David prayed concerning his heart before the Lord in Psalm 139:23-24 (KJV): “Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
David knew that the integrity of his heart would be the foundation of his life and leadership. He knew he couldn’t hide what was on the inside from what people would eventually see on the outside. That ultimately, his heart would give him away, either for good or for bad. He understood that his success as a leader meant he needed to be true to his heart and true to God. A leader who chooses to place his heart in the hands of God and allows God to lead him is an easy leader to follow.
But let’s not forget that according to our text good leadership requires more than just a good heart, it requires skills as well. Have you ever tried to follow a leader who had a great heart but just didn’t posses good fundamental leadership skills? While you may love them, you may find it difficult to follow their lead.
#2 Leading with skillfulness of hands.
David was a leader with skills that he learned as a young boy while watching his father’s sheep. Leaders are intuitive, that have a feel for what’s best for their team, just like David did with the sheep. He knew when they needed to move; he knew when they needed to eat, to drink and even when it was time to rest. He also had to learn to live a little further out than those that were following him. How did that happen? Well, I’m sure that his father taught him some of those things. David more than likely had some natural skills, but great leadership doesn’t just happen, it needs to be developed. Let me show you what I mean by that.
Soon after David had slain Goliath, a group of men came to him and committed themselves to follow him. These weren’t just ordinary guys, they are referred to in scripture as mighty men. Here is what it says about them in 1 Chronicles 12:2: “They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul’s brethren of Benjamin.”
Notice that they were skilled in using both their right hands and their left. All of us are naturally skilled to either be right handed or left, but it takes effort to learn to use both hands with equal success. The lesson we learn here is that having natural leadership skills is not enough; we need to make an effort to develop whatever skills we have, and take it to another level. That’s why it’s important to be a lifelong learner.
Great leaders understand that they need to develop their overall leadership abilities, but they also understand the need to develop the specific skills in the area they oversee. Technology is rocking our world. Change is everywhere; what used to work doesn’t work anymore. Great leaders have their thumbs on the changes that are affecting whatever area they lead. We can never rest on our past successes as leaders but we must be consistently be willing to lead the charge of organizational change. We all need to sharpen our skills. Read, study, stretch, grow, embrace change, and don’t hide from it.
Let’s be the leaders God has called us to be and lead with the integrity of our hearts and the skillfulness of our hands.
Say It: “Father, I believe You’ve called and equipped me to be a leader. Check my heart today and see if there is any wickedness within me—any wrong motives or inappropriate attitudes, and lead me through the integrity of my heart as I place my heart in Your hands. And Father, help me to continue to develop my leadership skills so that I can be the most effective I can be for You and Your kingdom. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen!”