Hearing the voice of the LORD over other voices
1 Samuel 16:7a
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at.’”
In my twenty-five years of leading churches, I have found that much of leadership involves disappointing people. When I got into church leadership initially, I assumed I would spend the majority of my time inspiring people with my vision, comforting people with my pastoral skills, and instilling God’s Word through my preaching. Little did I know that in every one of those areas (and more) I would disappoint people along the way!
Before David was known as a victorious warrior, powerful king, and devoted follower of Yahweh, he was just a shepherd boy who was low on the hierarchy among his brothers in his father Jesse’s household. When Samuel came to Jesse, he was sure the physically impressive eldest son, Eliab, was to be named God’s new king (v6). Everyone, including David, was shocked to learn that David, and not Eliab, was to be anointed king. David’s resume was unimpressive! He was young, small, and very inexperienced in life. According to the standards of his day, David was a disappointing choice.
Yet David—with the bad resume—was exactly whom God chose to use to lead His people. Every leader, including those in the church, can mistakenly value peoples’ praise and criticism over the voice of the LORD. Of course, God uses different voices in our lives and we should be open to both praise and criticism, but neither of these disparate voices should be the primary voice we hear.
When I pause and try to listen to the LORD’s voice, I am reminded of God’s challenge to Samuel to use different metrics: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at.” I want to look at the things that the LORD looks at, and it sounds like God is not impressed with the external metrics that we and others often use to define success, value, and importance. Let’s keep pursuing our identity in what God looks for in a leader and be open to Him using us today as we simply follow His voice.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
How do you define success? Are there certain metrics that you use to evaluate yourself regularly? Are there any metrics that you think are focused on the wrong things? How do you most regularly hear from God (Bible study, singing, Scripture meditation, taking a walk, serving others, etc.)?
LORD, we know that we will always have some people who are impressed by us and some who are disappointed by us. Give us the ability to see ourselves with Your eyes. When we fail to meet expectations that bring both merited and unmerited criticism, help us to remember that You are not impressed with the appearance of strength, health, and success. Give us courage to own the areas we need to grow in and the strength to resist becoming merely a pleaser of people. Help us to hear Your voice as Samuel did and simply follow You where You lead today. Amen.