Goliath versus Bathsheba

So who would win in a fight, Goliath or Bathsheba? Actually a better question might be, which of them would pose the greatest threat to a king? King David would think the question is a no-brainer. He would say, “A giant on a battlefield is far less dangerous than a bathing woman on a rooftop—because kings weren’t made for rooftops in times of war.”

Countless preachers have unpacked the sordid details of David’s affair with Bathsheba, inevitably highlighting the fact that David never should have encountered her in the first place. The poignant tone of 2 Samuel 11:1 instantly warns us that something is not right when it says, “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men…but David remained in Jerusalem.”

In addition to its moral lesson, this story contains two leadership principles that are essential for our long-term success both in life and as ministers and ministry leaders. First, kings need to do what kings are supposed to do. When it’s time to besiege Rabbah they need to be besieging Rabbah, not lingering in Jerusalem. And second, fighting the wrong battle can be deadly. There is grace to win the battles that we are supposed to fight; however, ill-advised contests can destroy us. Just ask King Josiah, who was quite possibly the godliest king in Israel’s history, and yet died while engaging in a battle that God never told him to fight.

Our giants can fall because giants are supposed to fall, but Bathsheba should never be encountered at all. She is supposed to be a non-issue because we are too busy doing what kings are supposed to do: fighting and winning the right battles.

What are the right battles for you? What are the key ministry areas that God has specifically fashioned and equipped you for? What parts of your job description must be handled exclusively by you? If you have identified these priorities, how well are you living in them?

Evaluating these questions can be one of the wisest, most proactive things we can do to ensure our long-term ministry health and success. David was not the first (nor unfortunately the last) leader to learn the hard way that kings need to do what kings are supposed to do.

So what should we be doing?

If we cannot readily answer that question, perhaps we need a Jethro to help us. Do you remember Jethro’s counsel to his son-in-law, Moses, after he observed Moses courting burnout in the early days of his ministry? Jethro urged him to quit trying to do everything by himself. He urged him to spend the majority of his time in four key areas: prayer, teaching, leadership development, and investing in the next generation of leaders. Jethro said to Moses, “If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied” (Exodus 18:23).

Isn’t that our goal? In a profession like mine where clergy finish poorly more often than any other field, isn’t it our dream to thrive amid the “strain” and enable the people that God has entrusted to us to “go home satisfied”?

Let’s do it. Let’s find our Jethro and get wise counsel. Let’s fight Goliath, let’s live in our priorities, and let’s leave Bathsheba for someone else to deal with.

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