By Dr. David Gyertson, Dr. John Reynolds and Bruce Dingman (Open as pdf)
Scroll down for Checklist of “David” Characteristics
In the world of Christian ministry, it is common to search for someone who can grow into the senior leadership position. Much like the biblical David, one might have abilities evident in one area that translate into being a foundational skill needed in another application. The challenge is identifying and then effectively grooming these “Davids” for what God might have for them as future leaders.
Observing David and identifying his characteristics could be helpful in finding such people to groom and grow. David had a healthy sense of self-confidence anchored to an understanding, that ultimately, the confidence needed to tackle “bears, lions and giants” came from God, the provider of skills, insights, courage, and wisdom to tackle any problem. He understood his limitations (e.g. the fact that Saul’s armor was not appropriate) but had the confidence to tackle new and bigger problems, trusting in God’s provisions. David was a man after God’s heart because while imperfectly manifested from time to time, he was motivated primarily out of a desire to love, honor and serve God. His motivation to be a leader came from this driving purpose to follow God’s leading.
One factor in David’s qualifications was his respect for leadership, recognizing that even if a leader is not perfect (Saul), that leader is still due respect and deference where appropriate. David also had a teachable spirit which is essential for maturing and effective leadership. At various points of correction (most notably Nathan’s confrontation regarding Bathsheba) his response was not self-defense but ownership of his “sin” and immediate steps to seek reconciliation.
Scriptures cited David as “as a man after God’s own heart,” a person who practiced following God and seeking ways to stay close to him. Demonstration of this characteristic translated into being authentic and transparent and not self-serving. Showing an exemplary life and demonstrating a passion to do what God is directing can lead to a contagious enthusiasm, trust, honesty, integrity, and leadership that causes others to wish to follow. David was also an over-achiever (i.e., beating the bear and lion) and was willing to take risks.
Other desirable “David” characteristics might include: being comfortable in the limelight but not dependent on it (humility); being at ease with people, power or wealth (self-confident); attracting people (being charismatic); adjusting one’s approach to be most effective (having excellent “EQ”); displaying a willingness to ask for prayer or a donation (boldness); knowing what one doesn’t know and purposefully seeking input (self-awareness); having a strong work ethic yet with balance (self-discipline); doing the right thing even in the face of opposition (courage); valuing continuous improvement (life-long learner); embodying knowledge and wisdom coupled with people skills, team building and understanding how organizations work (business acumen); learning and improving from criticism (openness); and striving for excellence (high standards).
Searching for “Davidic” qualities is important but should always be tied to the realization that God is continually working in individuals. A person can become far more effective and influential as they grow in their career. God can see the potential and the attitude of one’s heart.
Dr. David Gyertson is the Associate Provost and Dean of the Beeson International Center for Biblical Preaching and Church Leadership at Asbury Theological Seminary. Dr. Gyertson is a very well-known speaker and writer in the areas of Christian leadership, theology, applied theology, biblical studies, history, and higher education/leadership studies. Gyertson has served as the president of three evangelical universities, including Asbury University, and served previously at the Seminary.
Dr. John Reynolds, originally from South Africa, is Executive Vice President of Azusa Pacific University, as well as Chairman of the Board, Christian Leadership Alliance and President of Azusa Pacific Online University. He and Dr. Kurt Takamine recently published a book, “Authentic Leadership: After God’s Own Heart.”
Bruce Dingman, originally from Texas, is President of The Dingman Company, an executive search firm assisting Christian organizations, plus he has long served on Christian boards.
Searching for a “David”…what to look for in a future leader
Searching for a “David” Checklist:
Understand one’s limitations
Respect for leadership/ authority
“Man (or woman) after God’s own heart”
Demonstrates passion, causes contagious enthusiasm in others
Others wish to follow
Honest, has integrity
Takes calculated risks
Comfortable in the limelight, yet doesn’t need it
Has high “EQ” (Emotional Quotient)
Willing to ask for support-counsel, connections, financial (boldness)
Has a strong work ethic yet balance to life
Has courage, will do the right thing even in the face of opposition
Solid people skills, good at team building
Has business acumen
Values feedback/ criticism, seeks to learn from, improve
Does things with excellence