Tart Words Do Not Make a Leader

     Were I to write a book about leadership, I would start with David’s actions in Second Samuel, Chapter Three. Following a seven and a-half year battle between the households of David and Saul for the hearts of Israel, an inflection point was reached. Abner, the commanding general of Saul’s army was murdered in a duplicitous plot. Many speculated that David played some tacit role in the plan.
     However, David’s actions following the conspiracy demonstrated otherwise. David had no foreknowledge of the scheme to kill Abner. In fact, David played a prominent role in honoring Abner during the funeral procession. What makes David’s actions so extraordinary is that Abner had been David’s opponent. Abner led the forces that had been determined to kill David.
     Yet David payed tribute to Abner by venerating Abner as one of Israel’s great leaders. David could have trashed Abner’s name and reputation for the sake of revenge. David had every right to trample disrespectfully on Abner’s grave. Instead, David chose not to give in to his most base emotions to retaliate against his enemy.
     By doing so, David won the hearts of Abner’s soldiers, as well as those who were once loyal to Saul’s household. David saw the bigger picture. By honoring his onetime foe, David successfully won the affections of the entire nation, thereby unifying God’s chosen people. The Latin writer, Publius Syrus, said it best: “You can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force.”
     I worry about the direction our world has taken in recent years. I recently read a Facebook post that since has been deleted. The author claimed that we presently live in a world in which only the forceful and duplicitous get their way and find success. This same individual refutes the veracity of Proverbs 11:18, “Wicked people do not really gain anything, but if you do what is right, you are certain to be rewarded” (GNT).
     David’s actions demonstrate, however, that love holds greater power than that of hostility. Beating or berating others into submission may bring about a temporary victory. Yet history has demonstrated that those who have been vanquished by means of coercion or compulsion will one day arise in revolt. On the other hand, the Old Testament bears witness that David successfully led the entire nation of Israel for thirty-three and a-half years.
     Personally, I like David’s approach when it comes to leadership. I prefer to serve under a leader who is savvy enough to turn discord into collaboration. My prayer is that more of David’s tribe will ascend to positions of authority to prove him right.