Some leadership seasons are characterized by amazing success — we get picked, our work is praised and the waters part. These seasons of victory are a blessing, but pride is an inherent temptation. In Psalm 34:6, King David shows us how to lead with humility in a season of success.
David was a leader familiar with success — as the people sang in 1 Samuel 18:7, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” His successes were real, meaningful and valid, but they didn’t shape David’s understanding of himself. While the people sang about the victories of their leader, David sang a very different song. In Psalm 37:4, he proclaims “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.”Psalm 37:4 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. Click To Tweet
David was aware that, in leadership, people’s praise is a temptation and a test. David’s own son Solomon wrote in Proverbs 27:21, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise.”
The Key to David’s Humility
Even in his seasons of great success, David never joined the people in their song of praise. With his eyes fixed on God, he continually sang the truth about himself, to himself. Read the two songs again:
- The song of the people- “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” This is a song about David’s strength and victory.
- The song of David’s soul- “This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.” This is a song about David’s weakness and God’s rescue.
David knew that it was God who gave the victory even though he was the one who swung the sword. He remembered his success rightly and didn’t allow pride to revise the rescue story.David knew that it was God who gave the victory even though he was the one who swung the sword. Click To Tweet
The Bottom Line:
If God grants you a season of success, people will sing about (and to!) you. They do not mean to test you, they just unwittingly attribute God’s work to your leadership. Singing along is a temptation you must avoid if you want another season of success. A good leader can win for a single season, but it takes a humble leader to win for a lifetime. If you can’t lead humbly in the season of success God has given you, He’s unlikely to give you another.If you can't lead humbly in the season of success God has given you, He's unlikely to give you another. Click To Tweet
To lead with humility in success, keep singing the rescue-song to yourself. You can never let the perspective of the people’s song colonize your heart. The resulting pride will undo you.
- Did David kill his tens of thousands or did God rescue him tens of thousands of times?
- Did you grow your ministry with skill/gifting or did God rescue you from your own failings for the sake of Kingdom growth?
- Did you preach an amazing sermon or did God rescue you with gifted wisdom and a move of the Holy Spirit?
Read more about pride and humility in these posts: