by Steve McMichael
“He chose David his servant and took him from the sheep pens; from tending the sheep he brought him to be the shepherd of his people Jacob, of Israel his inheritance. And David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” Psalms 78: 70-72
Psalms 78 summarized Israel’s rocky relationship with Jehovah. Sin and rebellion are recurring themes. But it addresses the nation as a people with a great God and a desperate need for leadership. The final phrase captured my attention with the qualifications that it ascribes to David.
Verse 72 credits King David with shepherding with integrity of heart and leading with skillful hands. In less than fifteen words the psalmist lauds his king, and does an impressive job of summarizing pastoral ministry.
Shepherding with Integrity
We are aware that being compared to sheep is not a huge compliment, but yet, the picture resonates. People need care. If we as pastors don’t care, giving care dwindles. Because we care, we can give compassion, counsel, and wisdom. God gives through us because we are seeking Him for the flock for which we serve, pray and lead. Integrity demands compassion and the strength to be honest. Its importance cannot be overstated. To lack a heart of integrity is to fail in varying degrees at every endeavor of ministry. Yet there is more.
David not only cared, he led well. We win our congregations trust with competence as well as compassion. Society demands results. Thousands of examples of excess and driven lives testify, “results oriented” is often “grace deprived.” God graces us, and because of that we can lead skillfully. God offers an abundance of wisdom for the asking (James 1:5).
No time in history has more Christian leadership material existed. One simply cannot keep up with all that is produced on leadership today. Still, we have the resources at our disposal to improve any area of ministry. A word of caution: no one is called to be expert in everything. We should develop our strengths— that’s not a new idea. But there are essential areas, such as conflict management, interpersonal skills, public speaking and conducting business meetings that promote or hinder our ministry. These areas require attention and with God’s help and good resources we can all lead skillfully.
Reflection identifies one area as an opportunity for improvement. Taking one area at a time with a definable goal keeps the task from becoming overwhelming. Seeking God’s grace and good resources protects us from feeling alone in the challenge.
I pray for myself and for you as well, that we strive for the qualifications that David embodied. May we care for our congregations from the core of our being. May that compassion keep us pure and healthy so that we may always lead them in purity and health.
May God grant us the wisdom to know our strengths and weakness and never be content so we may lead with increasing skill.
May you enjoy many green pastures and still waters with the flock God has given you.
Steve McMichael is an alumnus from Global University’s Berean School of the Bible and the Undergraduate School of Bible and Theology. Steve currently serves as an International Pastor. Learn more about Global at www.globaluniversity.edu