Church leaders get emotionally and spiritually attacked more than we realize. When you are in intense pain you are more likely to turn toward quick fixes. So what do we do? Strengthen ourselves in the Lord.
David is a picture of how we ourselves should strengthen ourselves in the Lord. After Saul tried to take his life he went to the Land of the Philistines. After a while, the Philistine King took a liking to David, and he gave him and his a place to live in a part of his territory called Ziklag. One day, the Philistines are about to go to war and they called David and his men to say, “Come fight with us.” They marched out with them, and then realize that they are about to attack King Saul. They sent David and his men home to Ziklag before he found out what was up before they turned on them. While they were away the camp was unguarded, and the Amalekites attacked, burnt everyone’s house to the ground, and took the women and children. When David’s men returned, they saw the sight and were devastated. They wept deeply and then they turned on David. Many wanted to stone him.
Imagine you are David, and you are the king, responsible for the lives of your people
On your watch, your family was kidnapped, and a thousand questions are running through your head. Where is everyone? Did they kill them in the desert? Did they rape my wife? Did they burn my children alive? You begin to think this is your fault. You should have left a guard at the camp. Every 2nd lieutenant knows that. You’ve been in the military for 15 +years. On top of this, thousand of people may be dead because of your bad judgment. This is as painful as it gets. How can you strengthen yourself in this agonizing trial?
What David does in this moment will defines his legacy, before we look at that, I want to describe first what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t say, “I want to die, it’s too painful, just kill me and let’s get this over with.” He doesn’t fly off the handle and do something rash. He doesn’t blow up at the men. He doesn’t go over his lists of reasons to doubt God’s existence. He doesn’t get drunk, or go get laid in the next city.
The Bible says, “But David found strength in the Lord His God (1 Sam 30:6).” The Bible doesn’t say what he did, but he did something to connect with God in a way that took him from despair to confidence in God.
My best guess is that he got alone, and cried his eyes out. Then he began to pray and worship. He waited on the Lord, he cried and he sang some more. He was waiting for something in particular the presence of God. He knew if he kept seeking he would encounter God.
He did this instead of making plans, focusing on his circumstances, or relying on his own resources. I’m positive he could hear his soldiers saying “What’s David doing out there with his harp? I’d like to put a rock up that guy’s head.”
This process could have taken minutes, but I suspect precious time was elapsing. But he kept seeking God. Why waste that time? Because he knew he could not think clear, and he knew if he made the wrong choice a lot more people could get killed. Because he knew he needed to see his heart shift from doing his own will to doing God’s will, way and heart. But more than that, he knew what God’s presence does for people.
When he encountered the Presence of God it shifted his perspective. He gained emotional strength to keep going. He regained his confidence in God. He got insight into the situation. He found, not “a strategy”, but God’s.
He prayed and asked the Lord what to do. God said, “Follow the Amalekites and attack them and you will over come them.” David and his men did, they went into battle, slaughtered the Amalekites, and recovered their wives and children.
As a leader you are going to have to learn how to strengthen yourself in the Lord. I am not talking about praying every day. I am talking about taking a hurt to God, worshiping and praying until you connect with Him, until He changes your perspective to His.
Jesus did this all the time. He was always getting alone with the Father to be renewed. This is what he was doing in the garden on the night of his betrayal. It’s why he was about to pray, “Not my will, but yours be done.” He encountered the father in a powerful way in those moments.
Walking in the fullness of God requires God’s dependence. You have to learn to see Him as a source of energy. That’s why the Holy Spirit is called “the Comforter.” His role is to comfort you. It would not make sense for Jesus to call the Spirit if we were not to expect it to happen. Most believers have never looked to Him for that, and have a hard time believing it that’s the case. For more on this topic, I highly recommend reading Strengthen Yourself In the Lord by Bill Johnson.
Where do you need to find comfort from the Spirit?