My Servant David: Leadership Lessons for Multicultural Ministry

What can leaders in multicultural ministry learn from David, one whom God called His servant? From David’s beginnings as a shepherd, God chose him to rule over all Israel. His Spirit filled David with wisdom and understanding to equip him for service. Considered a type for the Messiah, David humbly served, felt persecution, and experienced exaltation for the God of Israel. Unlike Christ, he had a sinful nature succumbing to moral failure. God’s mercy did not depart from David, however (2 Sam 7:15-16). Regardless of successes and failures David remained a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). This character study illustrates his traits as a servant of the Lord and provides application for them to leadership in a multicultural church.

Character Study of King David

God chose David conditioned on his heart rather than outward appearance (Ps 89:20). He took him from a shepherd in the sheepcote to prince over all Israel (2 Sam 7:8). God gave His servants special assignments—David’s rule held critical significance for the messianic Kingdom to come. The Lord covenanted with David that He would build him a house to raise up His seed for an everlasting dynasty (2 Sam 7:12-16). Jesus, the son of Abraham and the son of David (Matt 1:1; Acts 13:22-23), fulfilled this covenant with His kingship, which traced to the seed from the House of Judah (Acts 13:23).

Heart for David 3

David did not rule immediately, rather served the reigning king, Saul. Since the Lord was with David when His Spirit came upon him, David behaved wisely in all he did (e.g., 1 Sam 16:18; 18:14, 28). Saul recognized the spirit upon David and thus feared him (18:12). All Israel and Judah loved him, though, including Saul’s son Jonathan. As David rose in service and showed even more wisdom through the Lord, Saul conspired against him. Despite Saul’s attempts to slay David, God protected the future king and sustained him (e.g., 21:9, 9; 22:1, 23). David went on to rule over all Israel because he depended on the real King of Israel in faith and subservience while following His will.

Lessons for Leadership in a Multicultural Church

Pillar One: A Servant of the Lord Belongs to God Through Covenant

The Lord chose David, a shepherd and youngest of Jesse’s eight sons, to rule over all of Israel (1 Sam 16:12; 2 Sam 7:8). He selected David based on his heart. God still looks for a leader after his own heart—apart a person’s background, race, ethnicity, gender, or age.

Pillar Two: A Servant of the Lord Submits to His Commission

David yielded to his commission from the Lord without hesitation. He submitted to serving King Saul as his armor bearer, valiantly facing Goliath, and fighting Israel’s opposition. Sometimes leaders encounter conflict when unifying the diversity of cultures. Leaders should stay the course, and let the Lord of hosts fight the battles (1 Sam 17:47b).

Pillar Three: A Servant of the Lord Places the Future in His Hands

Jealous over David’s accomplishments, Saul sought to kill him. (23:1-9; 26:20). God did not deliver him to Saul (23:14), but kept him. Carrying out the vision of a multicultural church requires endurance for the future. God keeps His covenantal leaders: “You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance” (Ps 32:7 NIV).

Pillar Four: A Servant of the Lord Follows God in Faith

God viewed David a man after His own heart, because he did everything the Lord wanted Him to do in faith (Acts 13:22c; Heb 11:33). Leading a multicultural congregation calls for a servant who will walk by faith to follow Jesus’ mandate for unity (John 17:20-23).

Pillar Five: A Servant of the Lord Speaks Gentle Truth

The narrator repeatedly described David as “wisely in all his ways; and the Lord was with Him” (1 Sam 18:14 KJV). Given the chance to kill Saul, David followed the directives from the Lord not to stretch forth his hand against him (24:6). After David explained his innocence, Saul said David was a better man repaying him good for evil (v. 17). Leaders should minister according to the Lord’s wisdom, loving their enemies, and praying for those who persecute them towards unity in diversity for Christ (Matt 5:44).

Pillar Six: A Servant of the Lord Trusts Him, Absent of Fear and Discouragement

Even under trials and testings, David enquired of the Lord for direction (e.g., 23:2, 4; 30:8). God comforted him and built his faith. David “found strength in the LORD his God” (1 Sam 30:6 NIV). God wants His leaders to lean on Him, rather than fear and address the challenges of multicultural ministry on their own.

Pillar Seven: A Servant of the Lord Prevails with His Commission

The Lord directed Samuel to anoint Saul as leader who would have authority over His people Israel (9:16-17); however, David was 30 when all the elders of Israel anointed him as king. Prior to this, only the tribe of Judah recognized him as king. Uniting a church across cultures requires patience for God’s hand to prevail and operate on His time.

Taking Up the Charge

David’s character presents an intriguing portrait of the human embodiment of a leader. From a confident young man in the pasture ready to battle for the living God (1 Sam 17:26) to a dimming ruler who made Solomon king over Adonijah (1 Kgs 1:7-8), David served the Lord to the end. Though David led through losses and victories, frailties and faith, he kept his sights on God. David’s last words to his son Solomon concerned keeping the charge of the Lord God to accomplish His promise to the royal throne for a successor to rule over Israel (2:3-4; cf. 2 Sam 7:12-16; Ps 89:29). Likewise, leaders must take up the charge to serve the fulfilled King Jesus from the House of Judah. Walk in His ways and do wisely to unite His people.

Jan Paron, PhD
Dean and Professor of Urban Ministerial Leadership
All Nations Leadership Institute

Watch for the next post about learning from the seven churches of Revelation: Overcoming to Lead the Mission of God in Unity

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