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Wednesday, August 12

Today’s Readings: Psalm 123; 2 Samuel 17:24-18:8; Mark 10:13-22; Acts 26:19-23; Psalm 127

I was talking with a group of friends last night about this thing called “leadership”. It’s a concept that is often thrown around but rarely defined. I certainly have my thoughts about what constitutes healthy leadership and what doesn’t. In saying so, however, I realize that I can’t list qualities that inherently qualify. In many ways, my approach toward defining leadership would parallel Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s approach toward defining pornography: “I know it when I see it.” One of the individuals who most embodies the qualities of a GREAT leader for me is David in the Hebrew Scriptures. I say that for many reasons. One reason is that I believe David handled the messy transition between Saul and himself with an incredible amount of grace. Another reason I believe David was a great leader is he had the ability to admit when he was wrong (see his interaction with the prophet Nathan following his affair with Bathsheba). Today’s passage from 2 Samuel gave me two more reasons for believing David was a great leader. First, David did not place himself over and above the people he was leading; rather he saw himself as one of the people. When the forces were getting organized and ready to march, for instance, David’s first response was to say: “I’m marching with you.” That is the response of a truly great leader. Second – and even more impressive – David listened to the people he was leading. Even though David’s first instinct was to head out to battle with his troops, he was humble enough to listen to their will (“No, you mustn’t march with us”) and respond accordingly (“If you say so. I’ll do what you think is best”). So why am I highlighting these aspects of being a leader? Am I doing it to reflect on those qualities in relation to national leaders like Barack Obama or Sarah Palin? Absolutely not! I’m talking about these qualities because I have the radical belief that every single one of us is a leader in at least one area of our life. For some, we are leaders at home; for others, it’s at work; for still others, it’s in the community. Wherever you find yourself in a position of leadership, I would encourage you to first remember and then incorporate the qualities that David showed us today. First, NEVER think you are better than others and therefore above it all (i.e. don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty). Second, always remember to listen to others. If you follow those two simple ground rules, you too will have the makings of a GREAT leader! Til next time…

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