Date: January 29, 2019 (Training)
Bible Text: | Betty Swann
Series: Pillar Eight
We are talking today about leaders, but these are leaders from nowhere. Sometimes you think, “Oh, leaders are just born. They already know how to do it and have all of the right advantages. They know the right people. They went to the right colleges. They got the right breaks. Of course they are leaders and that is how it always happens to a leader.” That is not true. Leaders can come out of nowhere. Leaders can come from the smallest, tiniest town. I heard this little story: “When God had his hand full of talent seeds, he threw them in the air and wherever they landed that is where the talent raised up.” It does not just have to be in New York City, Washington, London or whatever. It can be anywhere. When you have a talent for leadership, it will make its way known. You will find yourself being put in situations and how you respond determines what happens to you. There is another lsaying, “The nuts always rise to the top. Cream always rises to the top.” It is true. You may have had a lot of disadvantages or you may have had a lot of advantages. It does not matter. It is what you do with your life. It is what you do with your choices. Sometimes people who have had an unhappy life look at someone and say, “Why is your life happier than mine? How come you got to do more than I did? Why are you a leader and I am not? How come you are a church leader and I am not?” The answer is not where you came from; it is what kind of choices you made along the way.
Today, we are studying men in the Bible that you may never have heard of unless you have just casually heard of them. I am going to ask you a question. Does God know where you are? Does he know your address? Sure he does. Can he find you if he needs you? Yes. He knows right where you are, what you are doing right this morning. If you just scratched your nose, he knows it. It says in Psalms 139, “I know when you stand up or sit down.” Maybe you just sat down in a chair to watch this show and God says, “I knew when you did that. I know everything about you.” We are studying these men who became great leaders under King David. It is a wonderful thing to follow a great leader. I have had the opportunity to do that and the people that I have followed have taught me so much. They mentored me. They have helped me. They have encouraged me. They have believed in me. It is a great thing to be under a great leader. These men were, so let us study them.
Get your Bible and turn to I Samuel 22: 1-2. “David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Abdullam. Soon, his brothers and all of his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming; men who were in trouble, in debt, who were just discontented, until David was the captain of about 400 men.” It kind of sounds like Australia, does it not? Think Australia. People say I would love to go to Australia. It just sounds great. I would love to be there. I would love to see it. How did Australia start out? They had a lot of prisoners in England and they needed a place to get rid of them and they sent them all to Australia. You can start out bad. You can start out with bad choices, bad attitudes, bad everything. You can even get sent to a place like Australia before it was famous and, yet, look what happened to Australia. You see, what is that all about?
My dad was a school teacher. One day he said, “Betty, the same attributes that make a good bank president make a good bank robber. It just depends on who gets a hold of them.” At the right time, the right person can turn you in the right way. You can do that for somebody else too.
What was going on in David’s life? He was fighting for his career. He was fleeing for his life. I think it is kind of interesting that that scripture we just read said that his brothers joined him there. You do remember that these are the same brothers that when he was out in the field and he comes in to fight Goliath, his brothers say, “What are you doing here? Who told you to come here? What are you doing? You are just getting down here to see what is going on. Get out of here. What do you mean you think you are going to fight that giant?” He made a believer out of them, did he not? The younger brother led the older brothers. Interesting thought. All of his relatives joined him there. What was God doing? He was using the situation to toughen David up to prepare him to be king. You have to get thicker skin if you are going to be a leader because there are a lot of things that happen that could destroy you, stop you, disable you and you have to get a little bit thicker skinned. If you are a real thin-skinned person, real sensitive, and David could have been like that. How do I know that? Because he could right all of those songs and he wrote a lot of those songs early in his life. You have to have a sensitivity to be able to write songs like that, so maybe David was a little bit like that. He had to go through these hard things. God can allow you to go through hard, hard times in order to make you what you need to be. I had a lot of hard things happen to me when I was growing up, real hard. I remember one time saying, “Lord, why did that have to happen to me? It did not happen to any of my friends. Why did I have to go through all of that stuff?” About that time, I just opened the Bible and I think it was in Lamentations, I am not sure. I looked down and it said, “It is good for a man to bear the yoke in his youth.” I thought, I know why, because it caused me to be passionate toward people who are struggling. It caused me to care about people who are hurting. It probably took a lot of selfishness out of me, self-centeredness. It was not bad. It felt bad but it was not bad because it made me a better person. This time in David’s life made him a better person. The most amazing thing reading about David and Saul when they were enemies is that David had two different times that he could have killed Saul and he did not do it. The man was trying to kill him and he said I am not going to do it and you do not do it. I will not touch God’s anointed. That is strong faith.
Why else was David in this situation? Because he was drawing the people together who were going to help him in his kingdom. They were going to become leaders. He had to learn how to be a leader and he had to learn how to turn people into leaders. These were people, remember, who were discontented, in debt, angry, but David through his faith in God learned how to work with people. How do I know that? Read those Psalms. I love the Psalms. They are amazing to me because they can describe how I am feeling today and they were written thousands and thousands of years ago. They go right to the heart of the matter for me. These men retreated to this giant cave called Abdullam. It was about 12 miles west of Bethlehem and Bethlehem was really close to Jerusalem so that gives you an idea of where it was. It was large, it was dark and it was cold, but it was safe. That is where he had to be because, remember, he had 400 men. He had to find a safe place to flee from Saul and corral these men.
What are some of the factors involved for you to become a leader? Let me ask you some questions. What are you like under pressure? Can you handle it? I heard a man who was a speed skater in the Olympics say recently, “I like pressure. I like when it gets the hardest and the most is riding on it. That is when I do my best.” How do you conduct yourself when it looks like it is all falling apart? Do you fall apart too? Do you start crying and carrying on or do you knuckle down and say what needs to be done? What do I need to do? I have noticed something about myself. When things fall apart, it is like I go ice blood. I do not know how to describe it. Other people around me are crying and I am thinking, okay we have to figure out what to do here. Afterward, I can fall apart and it is safe and I have time.
One time we went to Belarus I had a pressure situation arise. I was the leader. The government shut down a conference that we had spent a great deal of money getting there, $50,000, and the government shut us down at the very last minute and said “We know that Betty Swann is a preacher and an evangelist, she is not a civic leader, and we do not want this going on with our civic people.” They locked the doors. I thought, “Are we going to jail? What is going to happen to us? Have I brought all of these women over here and they are going to be in jail? Lord, tell me what to do. Tell me what to do.” I was trying to stay calm. I felt no emotion. I was just listening and listening. I heard God. He told me what to do. We came up with a plan. Other people that were leaders there from the Belarusian side came up with ideas. We came up with a plan and it worked. I got home and I said I am never going back. I am never going through anything like that again. I started shaking and I shook for days. It was not a spiritual shaking, I was scared and it was just now coming out. I was able to keep my head about me when it was all falling apart. Can you do that? You can do that.
Can you see the overview? Are you a visionary? A leader is a visionary? They can see ahead and see what needs to be done. Now remember, you can grow into all of this. Some of you are sitting there going, “Well, I am not a leader.” I do not know about that. Start out small and see where you end up. Can you inspire confidence? Can you tell people your dream, your passion, what you think God is calling for, what God is asking you to do and can you inspire confidence in people and they say I want to go with you?” People are looking for something to identify with. They are looking for a cause. They are looking for something that is greater than themselves. Can you inspire confidence in them? Do you have integrity? Do you have character? Have you allowed God to work on your integrity and your character? God worked on David all of the time getting him ready. He tried to work with Saul and Saul would not respond the right way, so he was a poor leader. We have an example of a good leader and we have an example of a poor leader; both were in very difficult situations. One did it right and one did it wrong. You have to have character and integrity. We all see people fall all of the time and you have to pray and say “God, do not let it happen to me. Always correct me, Lord. Always send somebody to help me to think. God, build into me integrity and character and strength. I lean on you God.”
Let me ask you another question. Can you make wise decisions under great difficulty, under that pressure that it has to be the wise decision? Do you know how to pull back in and listen to God and let him tell you what to do? If you listen quietly you will hear if you do not panic. If you make the panic go away and you just listen and get in that quiet place, God will tell you what to do.
How good are you at being a follower? A good leader is a good follower. You have to be a follower before you can be a leader. Why? If you say, I know I am a leader but they just will not let me do it. You have to be a good follower. How else are you going to enable people and train people if you have not been there and experienced it? How are you going to do it? You need mentors. Do you have a mentor? Do you have somebody guiding you in your life, guiding you in Jesus, teaching you how to walk with him? How loyal are you to the main leader? Are you critical? How loyal are you? Are you faithful? How loyal are you? That time in that cave of Abdullam was a place of forsaking everything else and following David. Think about that. I told you how they came. I have told you what they were going through in their lives. They had to forsake everything. There is just a time that you come to in life and you have to decide, I am going this way. No matter how it turns out, this is who I am going with and I am going this way. It is the same thing the disciples had to do when they left everything and followed Jesus. Think about it. The Jewish faith had been told the Messiah was coming. They had been told for centuries. Somehow in their mind they envisioned a king, a ruler that would conquer their enemy. They did not ever understand. Yes, He came and He was a king and He conquered their enemies, but it was their inner enemies. It was the ones that kept them from being peaceful, from having satisfaction, from having relationship and connection with God. They did not count on it being like that so they had a hard time believing that this man was the one they had been waiting for. He did not come with an army. He did not come with all of the trappings of a king. He came simple as a servant and they could not get it. It did not connect.
When these disciples said, “We are going to leave everything and follow You. We believe.” It was huge. Even the first century Christians had families who were probably saying to them, “Why don’t you want to be a Jew that follows the Jewish faith? Why don’t you like the way we have been doing it, we have always done it that way?” When you choose to follow a leader, many, many times, you have to cut things behind you and step out. It is scary but in doing that, you can become a great leader yourself. There are just a lot of decisions. I told you that it is choices, a lot of choices involved all along the way; big choices and little choices. They add up. It is almost like keeping score. You see that when more of them add up you are on your way to being a leader. Remember, you do not have to be perfect because nobody is perfect. You will make mistakes on your way. You will even make mistakes after being a leader. You can do it and people are forgiving. If they know you are sincere and humble and that you are really trying to do it, they forgive you and you go on.
Many times, you do not fit in with the status quo. You do not fit in with the plan. You are a frontrunner. You are a pacesetter and you are doing something new. Take the world of technology, think about all of the people back in the 1980s when the internet was really getting going and young men and women were going to college and they came home and said to their parents, “Oh, I am going to be a graphics designer. What is that? I am going to be a person who does web sites? What is that? I am going to have this internet business. Where is your office going to be? I do not have an office. How are you going to do it? I am going to do it on my computer. You are going to do what? Yes, it is going to be great!” It is that same in becoming a leader. You get outside the status quo. You cannot fit in and just go along with the crowd. You will nearly always be called something if there are people around you that are saying, “why are you doing that?” You are going to do what? You have to believe that God has called you.
There is always going to be a word from God out of the Bible, if you look for it. Ask God, “If You are calling me to lead this, if You are calling me to do this, show me in Your Word God.” Then when times get tough, everybody is questioning you and you are questioning yourself and your call, you can get out that Word and read it. Mine is Jeremiah 1:5. I have read that verse so many times. I guess, in my hardest times, God has given it to me about 30 times when I am asking Him, “Oh Lord, did You really call me to go around the world speaking? Okay. Did You really do that? Get this verse out. Jeremiah 1:5. “Yes, I have called you to do that.” “Okay Lord, I believe Your Word.”
When God has given you a big call and a big promise, you want to be like Mary. In Luke, when she was told, “You, Mary, are going to be the mother of the Savior of the world.” She did not go, “How can I do that?” She did say, “I am a virgin, how can I do that?” He said, “The Holy Spirit is going to come on you.” She said, “Then be it done unto me, according to Thy Word oh Lord.” Every time I think about the prophetic word spoken over my life, I think how is that ever going to happen. I know God said it, so it is going to happen. I always say out loud, “Be it done unto me according to Thy Word, oh Lord.”
If you are someone who came from a real small town, you have not had a lot of advantages and yet you think, “I have such big dreams and I am willing to pay the price to make them come true, but I do not know.” Something you can say to yourself is, “Why not me?” If you look at all of the great people in life, they were pretty ordinary. Look at Abraham Lincoln. Have you ever seen that thing about how many times he failed at things and he finally became president? He is one of our greatest presidents. It does not matter where you are coming from. Just say, “Why not me? If it can be anybody, why not me? I will do the work. I will pay the price.”
Jesus and David had something in common. Their relatives were involved with them. Their cousins were involved with them. They became some of the greatest leaders. Sometimes, it is your family that is with you. You know them, they know you, you know each other, you know all of the backgrounds of each other. You know what they can be counted on to do.
Now I am going to ask you some more questions. These are the tests for future leadership. You have been listening and thinking, “I am not called to be a leader yet, but I have already listened to what you said. I have been really thinking about it, but I think it is far off.” Let me ask you some questions. Are you willing to be inconvenienced now in order to have a big payoff later? Delayed gratification has to be practiced if you ever do anything big with your life. If you have an “I have to have it now and a do it now” mentality, it is not going to happen. There is too much change that needs to occur in you. There are too many things that need to happen. You need to learn how to have to wait. You need to learn how to be able to wait with patience, with faith, with joy. Can you do that?
Can you delay and be continue in the delay for a big payoff later, inconvenienced now for a big payoff later? In David’s men’s lives, these unnamed leaders from nowhere, it involved war. Now that is something, is it not? Would you be willing to go to war? We are seeing that all over the world now and especially in America. Would you be willing? My son-in-law is. For the men around Jesus it was an even greater commitment. It involved walking away from religion as they had always known it. It involved being put out of things. Some people did not want to be with them and were running away from Jesus. They were trying to stay true and then they ran away, but they ended up being the great leaders for Jesus. Why? Because they got filled with the Holy Spirit and that power; you cannot do it without it. Do not even try, because you will be in your own strength and your strength will run out. When you are filled with the Holy Spirit, He does not ever run out. You know that it even required their very lives. They were great leaders. They have been remembered forever, but it required their lives. You are going to die someway. It is a great honor to die for Jesus.
Psalms 75:5-7 says, “Promotion comes from neither the east, nor the west, nor the south. Promotion comes from God. God is the judge. He puts one down and sets up another.” These men that followed David were angry. They were in distress. They were in debt. They were discontented. They were bitter and hurt with things that had happened to them. Their world was rocked. It was uncertain. They were not sure of the outcome. They were following the guy who was going against the king and yet they trusted their leader and they became great men. These 400 men were known as David’s Mighty Men. It is interesting to study these people and what happened to their lives. His nephew, Joab, became the commander of the army. Abishai, Joab’s brother, ended up as a commander. He was not one of the top three, but he ended up as commander. Amasah, David’s nephew, was made captain of the hosts. These three young leaders stepped into positions, earned the right to be there and performed.
Can you think of someone that you know that is in distress, debt or discontent; but you can recognize leadership in them? Maybe gang leaders. The right person can change their life forever. It could be you. You could get involved in reaching these young people and they could have their life changed. They could become a leader for good instead of a leader for bad. How about you? Have you been waiting a long time? Are you tired of waiting? Your time is coming. It is going to be good. God loves you and He has a plan. Hold on and do not give up. It is going to be worth it.
QUIET TIME QUESTIONS
1. Who is the main person in this lesson?
2. Briefly describe what they did for God.
3. What scripture about this person is meaningful to you and why?
4. In what ways do you find yourself relating to this person or their experience?
5. How does this lesson influence your thoughts about God or the way you walk out your beliefs?
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Topics: People of the Bible Speak