The Leader God Can Trust

It’s a simple sentence, but amazingly telling. It was the reason that David was the greatest king Israel ever knew and that God could entrust such responsibility into his hands. And it’s the necessary essential of all great leaders.

And David realized that the Lord had established him as king over Israel, and that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel. (2 Samuel 5:12)


David understood something that most of us never grasp. God had exalted him to leadership. It was not man and it certainly was not by David’s own skill, planning, manipulation, or resources.

Perhaps it was because of his humble beginnings as the youngest son of a shepherd, forgotten and not even considered for any position, much the less the one he now occupied. Or maybe it was because of the way his rise to leadership had all occurred—the secret anointing by Samuel at David’s home, the jealousy of Saul that had driven the loyal David from his side, the relentless hunting of the innocent servant in the wilderness, the supernatural intervention of God to bring about this strange twist of events that now placed this young warrior on the throne. But regardless of what contributed to his new leadership position, David knew that there was one Hand behind it all.

And he was quick to let everyone know. His Psalms are a constant indication that David understood the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” He knew that God puts down one and exalts another.

When Jim Collins and his team did a 20-year study of what made good companies great, they discovered five irrefutable constants. And standing first above all was that every great company they studied was led by humble, but strong leaders. 

Good leaders recognize what God and others have done to contribute to their success. This is not some syrupy, false humility. An authentic awe cannot be manufactured. It is a heart that really believes. It is also not a self-deprecating belief that thinks less of the abilities that God has given or that one is not “fearfully and wonderfully made and my soul knows it well” as David says in Psalm 139.

But the moment we start taking God’s credit and privately or publicly soaking in the accolades is the moment we lose the pleasure of God and leadership capital before men. 


Many leaders think it is all about them and all for them. “I earned this, now I’m going to enjoy the fruits of my labor.” How many corporate scandals are laced with this thinking? But not David. “And David realized…that He had exalted his kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.” David knew there was a goal in God’s mind to bless His people, to keep the promises He had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to exalt Himself. 

Great leaders know they are servants in a larger plan. They realize that they have been lifted up by the power of God and placed where they are by the purposes of God. They do not falsely underestimate their own abilities, but they know that even those have been given to them by the One who gives every good and perfect gift.

They are constantly checking with God through His Word and His Spirit to make sure they are on the right track. They know the secret to success is not getting God to align with their purposes, but lining up with His. They don’t lead and then say, “God, please bless this great idea I’ve had.” They live like their Master who proclaimed that He did nothing by His own initiation but simply did and said what His Father was doing and saying. (John 12:49) 

Continually remembering the Source of success and the purpose keeps a leader in the right posture for continued leadership and usefulness. And when God finds a leader He can trust to not steal His glory He unleashes Himself so the world can experience and know Him. The results of this exalting God/humble leader combination are stunning.


©2013 Bill Elliff.  Orignally posted on Jan 22, 2013 at Bill Elliff’s blog.