We all desire a king — someone to look up to, to honor, to follow. In athletics, we look up to the best of the best. We want a leader who can show us how to do things right. This is a God-given desire; it’s a good thing!
In 1 Samuel, we watch the Israelites being led by the rule of King Saul. He was a once good farmer turned into a corrupt king by having power thrust at him. At first he was the nation’s hero, but then Saul committed many acts of disobedience against God. So God, in His providence, soon provided a different king — a better king — for His people.
“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” — 1 Samuel 16:7
God sees people differently than we do. We have to remember that nothing in our outward appearance is going to lead people. That may attract people, but it won’t lead them. You can have great hair or a certain color of skin, but that won’t lead. Only someone with a heart and mind fully submitted to a mission can lead their people successfully.
We see this picture not only in the life of David, but also with Moses and Abraham. These men were shepherds, not kings, so why did God choose them to lead in mighty ways? God’s showing us that the prerequisite for leadership is a heart submitted to the needs of others. Look at the life of a king, president, ambassador or chief and you’ll see them being served by others. Look at the life of a shepherd and you’ll see he’s always preoccupied, not with his own needs, but with the needs of animals that cannot help themselves. In the same way, leaders must be familiar with the needs and interests of their flock. They need to have a heart on mission.
“Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth … this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.” — 1 Samuel 17:34-37
As a leader, you have to understand you have many limitations. You are not perfect and you don’t know everything there is to know. If you see yourself as a king of sorts, the first thing to come to grips with is that your “reign” — your sport, career, community — has deficiencies. Furthermore, you have limitations. A kingdom is always going to take on attributes of its king, but when the king is a fallen being, his followers will take on that fallenness for themselves. That’s one of the reasons man-worship is so dangerous. We don’t want to duplicate our own sin patterns! Also, when we imitate another human and they fall or die or sin in some way, their followers will scatter.
The only King worth serving is Jesus. He is the only King with a perfect résumé. And not only that, He is the only King who has literally died to save His people and then risen from the dead to give us new life!
If you’re in a position of influencing and leading others, you’re going to have to consider the King’s agenda before you think about any other agenda. If you are leading others in football, you will need to consider the King’s agenda in football: to raise up people the public looks up to, who can then point to Christ. If you are leading others in marriage, you need to consider the King’s agenda for marriage: to make us holy, not just happy. If you are leading others in the community, you need to consider the King’s agenda for community: to love your neighbor as yourself.
Other agendas around us will often scream louder then the King’s. But when we fill our hearts and minds with God’s Word and believe He is the King that He says He is, then we can truly seek to establish His Kingdom here on earth.
You are an ambassador of the King.
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” — 2 Corinthians 5:20
— Jack Easterby, New England Patriots chaplain
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.