The Guts of a Leader

Tuesday, March 09, 2010
Little known fact: my youngest son BJ's given name is Jonathan. He is named after the son of King Saul and the best friend of King David. His story is told in 1 and 2 Samuel in the Old Testament. The story told in 1 Samuel 14 is one of the reasons my son has his name.

The army of Israel is going into battle against their arch-enemies, the Philistines. The Israelites are outmanned and outarmed. They are relying solely on the element of surprise but even with that the odds are stacked against them.

Jonathan is itching for a fight, itching to vindicate the name of his God.

So he takes his right hand man and sneaks away from his father's army. They make a treacherous journey between two rocky cliffs and come close enough to hear the snores of the enemy army. Maybe Jonathan's assistant is getting cold feet, because Jonathan feels the need to pause and declare:

"Perhaps the Lord will help us, for nothing can hinder the Lord. He can win a battle whether he has many warriors or only a few" (v. 6).

In a matter of minutes, Jonathan and his lieutenant catch the enemy offguard, kill twenty of them by themselves and strike panic in the rest of the Philistine army, which runs away.

I love the story and what it says about life and leadership.

1. Jonathan took initiative. He didn't even tell his father where he was going, but he saw what needed to be done and he did it.

2. Jonathan placed his trust in God, not in himself. And his courage was contagious.

3. Jonathan always had a bias for action. Instead of waiting for a better opportunity or bringing in reinforcements (either of which course of action could have been justified) he seized the leadership moment.

Great leaders take initiative, trust in God above all else, and act boldly and decisively.

In your life or work where can you do one or all three of those things?

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