Healthy Leaders


5 Leadership Reflections from the Life of David

Ron EdmondsonRon Edmondson

The best book from which to find leadership principles is the Bible. I love, for example, learning from leaders like Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Jacob, Nehemiah ‒ and I could keep going. Of course, the greatest leader of the Bible ‒ and life ‒ is Jesus.

And, I love reading about King David. From his time in the wilderness and serving as king ‒ good and bad ‒ we learn a great deal about leadership and what is required to successfully lead.

Take for example this story. It’s one of my favorites. I’ve used this dozens of times to encourage leaders.

When David was told, “Look, the Philistines are fighting against Keilah and are looting the threshing floors,” he inquired of the LORD, saying, “Shall I go and attack these Philistines?

“The LORD answered him, “Go, attack the Philistines and save Keilah.

But David’s men said to him, “Here in Judah we are afraid. How much more, then, if we go to Keilah against the Philistine forces!” (1 Samuel 23:1-3)

Notice David had a vision. He actually had a word from God, but this was a bigger request than David and his men probably felt capable of doing. They were still a young army. This was prior to David reigning as king. He had been anointed king by God but did not yet have the position. He was hiding from Saul. He didn’t have a king’s palace. He spent much of his time in a cave. His new army were mostly misfits – that we know from the previous chapter. They weren’t battle trained. This new assignment was scary, his army was questioning him, and the future was unknown.

Have you experienced a situation like David? Have you ever been in over your head in a leadership quandary?

Thankfully David’s story had a happy ending (of course it did, since God put him up to it)! But, even with a happy ending ahead, like most of our stories it didn’t mean victory would come without challenges.

Read some more of the story. (This is what leaders of faith do.)

Once again David inquired of the LORD, and the LORD answered him, “Go down to Keilah, for I am going to give the Philistines into your hand.” So David and his men went to Keilah, fought the Philistines and carried off their livestock. He inflicted heavy losses on the Philistines and saved the people of Keilah. (1 Samuel 23:4-5)

David went back to God, made sure he was within the will of God, and then moved forward by faith. It doesn’t appear his men questioned him anymore.

5 reflections on leadership:

It reminds me that we must rest along the way. Don’t expect things to “slow down” so you can catch up. They won’t. You’ll have to be disciplined to decompress regularly. God even commanded it into the system. It’s called the Sabbath. And we need it. Our souls need it.

As a leader I have to be obedient, even when the demands are bigger than I think our team can handle – bigger than I as a leader know how to lead. That’s what leaders do. We chart the way – even when the way isn’t neat, tidy, and clearly defined.

What are you being called to these days that is bigger than you?

This was first published by Ron Edmondson at

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