2 Samuel 23:14-17 and Careful Leadership

David pours water Schnorr von Carolsfeld 1860 Bible 2Sm23It is very important to be careful when in positions of leadership. This is true of personal integrity (see David and Bathsheba) as well as how the leader interacts with those who follow. This story from David’s life is another case-in-point:

At that time, David was in the fortress, and a Philistine fort was in Bethlehem.  David had a craving and said, “If only someone could give me a drink of water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem.”  So the three warriors broke through the Philistine camp and drew water from the well by the gate in Bethlehem and brought it back to David. But he refused to drink it and poured it out to the Lord. “The Lord forbid that I should do that,” he said. “Isn’t this the blood of men who risked their lives?” So he refused to drink it.

This story is included in the Bible to highlight how amazing the Three warriors of David were in battle. They accomplished numerous deeds of wonder and won renown for themselves and David. Yet this feat of strength and fighting ability was completely unnecessary. Here is where leaders have to be careful.

David was wistfully talking about something. In fact, he was remembering something from his youth, having grown up in Bethlehem, and longingly mentioned it. The Three took this daydream-statement seriously and risked their very lives to fulfill it. David rightly understands this, which is why he will not drink the water after he receives it.

Leaders must be careful with what they say. If we have built up leadership influence enough that we have people who will follow us, let us not squander them, their talents, or their energy on whimsical fantasies or idle talk. Leaders do not have the luxury of thinking out loud within earshot of team members who will take challenges and run with them. Just as the Three could have died during this raid that was not essential, our own team members could get burned on projects that are not essential.

To be successful, we have to exercise careful leadership.

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