Maturing as a Leader: What Got You Here, What Will Get You into “Next,” part 1

David was king of the Jewish nation and celebrated in history by killing a giant. When Jesus Christ of Nazareth was born as king of the Jews many centuries later, He was born as “son of David” to sit upon the throne of David. God had given David a promise that his kingdom and throne would become eternal, so Messiah Jesus fulfilled that prophecy, along with many others. David, the leader, gives us a clear insight into God’s definition of leadership.

What Got You Here and What Will Get You into ‘Next’

David helps us see how “what got you here won’t get you to the next level” only in the sense of weapons, not skills. He became an expert in the weapon he possessed so that he was ready for a sword. We don’t see him using the sling after that, but the skill set was enhanced by the new weapon, as the skill set had prepared him to wield it.

Becoming expert with the weapon you now possess is key to your preparation for the next level. Making your sling part of your identity, however, is a limitation; applying your skill set to a new weapon will mature both you and your leadership. That is, your skill set using a new weapon will mature as the new weapon enhances your leadership at the next level. That means your skill set will mature as well.

Some leaders whose skill set prepared them for swords insist upon using slings. They made the sling part of their identities. Their skill set prepared them for new weapons, but they insisted upon defining themselves by their comfort levels instead of their destinies: “brilliant, wise, experienced,” but limited in application to the sling.

This is especially limiting in kingdom leadership. For example, consider that Moses had a stick that became “the rod of God.” Moses’ stick gets “laid up before The Lord.” The stick had little use at the next level of his leadership. Yet, the leadership of Moses isn’t diminished at all when he gets a tent of meeting from which to speak with God so he can speak for God. The stick is laid up at the place of his skill set advancement to a new weapon. The rod of God is never put into a museum.

Leading Sheep or Leaders

What got you here may not get you to the next level in terms of your team, weapons, location, and mode of operation. If you carry your skill set with you to shepherd God’s sheep as a king, you can move on, but if you insist that your identity isn’t a king but a shepherd, you will just go back to your father’s sheep where you can kill lions and bears with a sling.

David didn’t go from shepherding to the throne in a day but through a process in which his skills as a shepherd came in handy running from Saul! His skill set matured as he matured because he applied to new circumstances. His “sheep” became might men because he applied his skill set to a new environment, and he matured those leaders as he matured personally. David never saw maturing other leaders as a threat to his leadership, but a promise of greater destiny fulfillment. As king, David remained shepherd. In kingdom, David remained shepherd.

Leaders can be the most insecure of people! David became a leader in a nation dominated by an insecure leader, King Saul. Saul sought to keep everybody around him lower than himself in an effort to feel great. He didn’t mature personally, and he didn’t mature as a leader because he didn’t mature anyone else. Saul saw his own son as a threat! Of course, Saul saw David as a threat, so he used his skill set in an attempt to kill him: that is, Saul threw a spear at David when he sat in his tent instead of facing the giant. Didn’t work, but forced David to use his skill set in the wilderness during David’s next step in leadership maturity.

In kingdom leadership, by the way, we don’t accumulate sheep. This metaphor has been misused to the point of infinitum vomitum. Not that shepherd-sheep isn’t Biblical – that’s obvious! The issue here is the definition and design of kingdom leadership that assumes that only shepherd-sheep applies because we see “ekklesia” as the accumulation of believers instead of the establishing of kingdom.

David took the shepherding skills to battlefield victory, leadership maturity, wilderness wandering, and built his own army and fortune without touching Saul’s. What got him there didn’t take him into “next” in the sense that he matured as a leader in role and function.

What You Do Next to Get to ‘Next’

In these next seven years of plenty, your skill set must be utilized at a new level, in a new function, with a new team, holding a new weapon, and using those skills in new battles, some of them surprising conflicts with the people you thought would be your allies.

Right now, a season change has arrived for kingdom leaders. Ministries in which leadership remains focused upon experience will remain in the past season. Ministries that carry skill sets developed in the past season into the new season to appropriate new weapons, leadership maturity, new team members, new environments and atmospheres, turning from accumulating to developing leaders, warriors, and kingdom expansion will find themselves prepared for “next.”

Dr. Don

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