Pondering how God prepares leaders for their next levels, I was awakened by a night vision in which I saw David’s arm, extended high and about to bring down Goliath’s sword in order to cut off the giant’s head. I was surprised by the thought that God doesn’t train giant-killers by having them face giants.
David had never used a sword. When Saul offered the use of his sword, David was quick to let him know that this was not his weapon of choice or training. And no wonder, for no one in all Israel possessed a sword except King Saul and his son! David had been trained to face giants by learning to win battles with what was in his hand. Roar of lion and bear prepared him for Goliath’s roar: David was the only person in the camp without fear.
Writing a script for a David movie, we would include scenes of a younger David swinging swords in obscurity for several years before using one to awaken a generation. We would depict him studying with a master swordsman, emerging with skills and experience, prepared in secret for the day of great victory.
However, God didn’t prepare David to face giants by having him face giants. He didn’t prepare David to shepherd a nation by learning to get along with his arrogant brothers. He didn’t teach him to author psalms by listening to the classics from Prophet Samuel’s IHOP even though he did attend some sessions. All of these legitimate preparation methods were not used to prepare David.
Then I realized something that I have known, was obvious to me, and vital to this generation: I realized that preparing David for what he would do by the power of the Spirit was not as necessary as preparing David. For him to learn faithfulness, integrity, and dependency upon God was much more important than the rather effortless activation of his spiritual gifts and anointing. Seems God thinks the rest comes easily to a man with God’s heart.
You probably stopped reading after that line if you were hoping for a magic wand touch from God to make you a spiritual superstar, ready to audition at the next “Heavenly Idol” search for ‘the bestest one in the kingdom.’ You probably didn’t keep reading this paragraph unless you were interested in knowing how God prepares generation-awakening champions. Many people are interested in King Saul’s rise to fame and position more than David’s pain-staking preparation for giant killing. Like Saul, they were rather pay peasants to exterminate their giants.
Some folks never advance past the “getting bloody” stage. They just don’t want to get their hands that dirty. They are content to allow bear or lion a lamb or two along the way, thinking, “No one really expects me to face death over a lamb or two, do they?” Aren’t shepherds worth more than sheep? They don’t pay me to get bloody.” Bears and lions like that kind of thinking!
Most people are content to IPod themselves to sleep, turning up the volume to drown out the bleating lambs. They would never consider singing a song of comfort over the sheep because they need their rest. They are waiting for their day off, away from those stupid sheep, instead of practicing for hours throwing creek stones at a tree trunk until they can hit a fly at fifty meters.
David did those things that most people don’t think of doing, and those things prepared him to face a giant, sing to a king, and postpone dinner until a prophet could anoint his head with oil. David didn’t build character facing a giant; he revealed the character he had developed watching his father’s sheep.
Since God isn’t having David face giants to prepare him to kill Goliath, and we still wish to know how God prepares a man to face giants, we must think about the activities that did prepare David. What produces a man with the courage to enter the camp of Israel and immediately volunteer to kill the giant? What rises up in one man to do what a whole army was willing to watch him do? What is missing in a generation that is willing to listen to a giant roar and do nothing? What kind of leader sits in his tent, surrounded by armor and weapons, yet refuses to respond in the day of battle?
The easy answer that most will offer is that “God was with David from the moment Samuel anointed him.” So, you say, “Well, that’s it, then. Just get an anointing and giants will fall!
The problem with that thinking is that King Saul had the same anointing as David. King Saul had the same life-changing experience as David: God made a new person. Yet he sat in his tent surrounded by his armor while the giant raged day after day. King Saul was afraid of the giant even though he was “head and shoulders” taller than anyone else in his generation. King Saul looked the part and had the same anointing. King Saul had a sword and spear, but he was ill prepared to face the Goliath of his generation. King Saul even had the titled position people seek to define their level of success. King Saul had what man expects a champion to possess, but none of this preparation gave him what David had.
The principles that caused David to kill lion and bear to protect someone else’s sheep were the principles that caused David to enter the camp of Israel ready to die before a heathen cursed God and lived! David killed Goliath on principle, empowered by the anointing of his personal destiny, and positioned by faithfulness to someone else’s possessions. David got bloody defending little lambs because they were his assignment. He didn’t hesitate when his principles demanded that a giant’s mouth be shut in defense of God’s little lambs. David got bloody defending his father’s sheep, and he was ready to get bloody defending His Father’s sheep. So, David preparation was more about David’s character than David’s anointing.
So, you ask, “You mean to say that getting bloody builds character?” More accurately, making the decision to get bloody when getting bloody is required builds character. More accurately, the attention to detail in little prepares us for the attention of destiny in much. More accurately, learning to be faithful with another man’s sheep prepares us to be faithful with God’s sheep.
God has used FreedomMinistry to bring true life-change to tens of thousands of people in the nations, helping them get free of root issues. The preparation for this ministry came in my life when I spent eleven months pulling weeds in the hot Floridian sun. Although I had one doctorate and decades of ministry experience, experienced personal transformation in a great revival atmosphere, what I learned in the flowerbeds got my hands dirty. I learned spiritual warfare in the same way David did. I learned to face principalities working on someone else’s flowers and shrubs.
I have noticed that the road past our homebase ministry leads many people to our door. They walk in ready to shake nations with a resume in their hands of great experiences, anointing, gifts, insights, how-to pamphlets, and big dreams. It doesn’t take long to discover if they have gotten their hands dirty pulling weeds or bloody facing bears and lions. They fail to realize that getting gifts and anointing is the easy part. Getting God’s life is a gift. Living the life is difficult.
Most people who don’t have bloody hands would fall for any of the temptations of Jesus because they offer them an easier way of being famous, successful, and maintaining appearances. They would turn stones to bread for their own benefit, fall into angel’s arms for a circus-show ministry moment, and give the devil his due for a chance at ruling the world. They would say, “Lord, Lord, look what great things I have done in Your Name.” He would say, “Who are you and how did you get in here?”
The name, position, weapons, appearance, and anointing are not the preparation. Jesus spent three years working His guys over. One was a traitor, and the rest forsook Him. His best guy cussed Him out to save himself from a little servant girl! He knew they weren’t ready for the kingdom until they were as crucified as He was.
He spent a great deal of time with them, and they never seemed to get what He was up to. All their strategies for Messiah-ship were inconsistent with the life of the Messiah! What they were sure He would do first, He didn’t do at all. The people they thought He would impress, He condemned in public. The people who didn’t matter at all seemed to be the focus of His time and teaching. He noticed a widow woman giving pennies. He blessed screaming babies because that was kingdom. He washed their feet! He picked Galileans for disciples and invaded Jerusalem with fishermen, a tax collector, and a zealot. He said, “If you can fish for fish, then I can teach you to fish for people.”
From One Conquered Territory to Another
In order to function at the next level, you need to finish well at the level you’re on. Bruising bears and badgering lions won’t get you ready to face giants! They don’t go down without a knockout punch. You can’t just stand back and throw rocks at them. You most certainly can’t ignore them and hope they go away when you are the one responsible to keep your territory free of bear and lion!
David cleaned up his territory! He had a handle on the lions and bears in his area. They only approached his camp out of desperation and deep hunger! They would walk around David’s territory to get the lambs from some of those other shepherds. David slept on a bear rug and covered himself with lion linens against the cool Bethlehem nights.
How many times have I thought of leaders with a call to shake nations: “You want to go take a nation but your eight-year old runs your house!” Or, “You wonder when God is going to send you out to shake a city but you don’t show up to prayer meeting.” Or, “You are certain that your worship songs will be sung around the world, but you sit on your hands when some else is leading worship.”
You cannot move to conquer another territory until you have conquered the territory where you are, the territory of your present assignment. Facing down the lions and bears of your father’s meadows prepares you to walk the valley of giants!
At some point, after facing down the lions and bears, you come to understand that this preparation is for greater victories. It is this confidence that carries you on, not the shallow boast of “when I get my day on stage” fantasies.
Until David showed up, every Israel boy wanted to be like Saul and Jonathan, played with sticks as if they were swords so they would be ready someday when they magical moment arrived that a sword was given to them. David kinda blew up that dream! All the Saul boggle headed dolls were left unsold after David blasted Goliath with a sling. Every Wal-Mart kid’s department ordered a new stock of slings after that hit the papers!
If you can’t take lions and bears in stride, you won’t have the proper pacing for a Goliath. Little successes build big men. Not empty victories on video games, but real blood and some wounds healed into scars, the real-life marks of taking and keeping territory.
Giant Killing is Contagious
Until you have a shout, you are just a spectator. I’m not talking about the cheer of watching someone else do what you are supposed to do. I’m talking about the shout that rose in the camp when the army of Israel saw David holding up a giant’s head! “They rose with a shout,” and they ran down to chase the enemy. They all wanted a sword and the only swords around were with the Philistines. Only place to get a sword was off an enemy, so they rose up when they saw David with Goliath’s sword! They stopped dreaming about the day someone would give them a sword, and a shout of territory-taking terror escaped their lips. They said, “I want my own sword, and I’ll fight a Philistine to get it, like David did.”
That shout is a new sound for most folks! The cheer of watching someone else do something great is common, but the shout of taking and keeping territory with the weapons of your present enemy is different sound! If can convince people to shout that shout, you will arm a nation in a day! If a sword of a giant in your hand awakens your generation, then you have earned the leadership you know you are called to. If you can take the giant of your generation because you were prepared by the lions and bears of your past victories, you will know how to teach your generation to be mighty men and women!
The sound is already in the army of God, but the leadership spirit of Saul will never release it. The shout of taking territory gurgles in the bellies of the brightest and best among us, but they await a champion. They know that giants shouldn’t be bellowing. They know that giants shouldn’t be given forty days of front-page blasphemy. They know that the army of God shouldn’t be without weapons. They know that God has something better for them. However, when their king is in his tent trembling with fear, promising his daughter and half the kingdom to anyone who will fight so he won’t have to, the army waits and wanders.
David arrived with no sword, passed on Saul’s sword, and picked up Goliath’s sword. In my estimation, Saul’s sword was probably not enough weapon to cut off a giant’s head anyway. Seems to me you need a giant’s sword to cut off a giant’s head.
Ready to Shout?
Intercessors often pray in waiting. Prophets often prophesy in waiting. Even apostles lay foundation in waiting. Worshippers worship in waiting. Like Israel waiting for a champion, facing down their enemies with farm tools, they all appear to be waiting.
I believe there are David’s in this generation whose narrative includes some bears and lions killed to protect their father’s sheep. I believe there must be some champions among us who have learned to live by principle. I believe that all this present generation lacks is the David spirit of leadership, action that will release the shout of taking territory that gurgles in their bellies. I believe when David’s lift the giant’s sword, a whole nation will arise to get a sword for themselves!
Is there a better day to shout than now?