Leadership and God's Grace
These are the words of King David directed to Ziba the servant of King Saul.
David had made a covenant with Jonathan his closest friend (1 Samuel 23:18) as well as with Jonathan’s father, King Saul, David’s sworn enemy (1 Samuel 24:20-22). He promised both of them that he would show kindness (grace) to their families— that their families would not be exterminated once he had assumed the throne in Israel, or during his rule.
Instead of a sword falling on him, the king showed unprecedented kindness (grace) inviting him to sit with him at the very table where the royalty dined.
Upon inquiry whether there was anyone left in the house of Saul, King David was told of Jonathan’s son, Mephibosheth, who was Saul’s grandson. He was a special child in that he was a cripple. Mephibosheth was injured at the time of Saul’s defeat at Jezreel. His nurse, who looked after his welfare, fled with him to protect him from being captured and killed by Saul’s enemies. While fleeing, the nurse slipped and fell with Mephibosheth and he became crippled (2 Samuel 4:4).
What a nerve wrecking time it must have been for Mephibosheth when he was told that the king wanted to see him. The invitation to the palace was not a welcome relief. He thought that the day had finally come for him to be killed.
David’s reputed strength against his enemies made him even more nervous. Mephibosheth was prejudiced against David, but to his greatest surprise and joy, King David dealt with him kindly.
On arrival at the palace, his greatest fears became his joys. Instead of a sword falling on him, the king showed unprecedented kindness (grace) inviting him to sit with him at the very table where the royalty dined.
David also assured Mephibosheth of his safety. In 1 Samuel 9:7, David said to Mephibosheth, “Do not fear, for I will surely show kindness to you for the sake of your father, Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather, Saul; and you shall eat at my table regularly.”
Lessons of Compassion
Just like Mephibosheth hid himself far from Jerusalem where King David lived and hoped that he would not be found for fear of being killed, so we as steward-leaders, have experienced and benefited from the beauty of God’s love that found us when we were running away from Him because of our sin. His grace followed us into our wayward journeys. It ran and snatched us from the fires of destruction where we were headed towards. It entered into our drug infested territories, all the time shouting and beckoning to us to leave our futile lifestyles and come home where forgiveness is plenty.
We must bring them Jesus through our kindness, compassion and give them the assurance that not only does God forgive and love them, but that we do too.
As steward-leaders, we are expected to help in allaying the fears of those who are far from the grace of God—those who are bent toward evil and afraid that they will be lost. We must bring them Jesus through our kindness, compassion and give them the assurance that not only does God forgive and love them, but that we do too.
When Mephibosheth reached the palace, he was welcomed and accepted. He participated fully and freely in the conversation and in dining with the king as well as his sons and daughters around the table. As steward-leaders, we must be accepting of those who have been brought from the wayward land of sin into the fellowship of believers. As we all sit at the table of fellowship of God’s Word, there must be an uninterrupted communion and fellowship between the Master and all the sons and daughters of God, remembering that the playing-field is level for all of us. Common to all of us is the blood that found us in our sin, full of dirt, lost and full of shame, then forgave us and washed us perfectly clean.
I want to think of David as a steward-leader, who understood that his role was first that of a steward then a leader. He knew that as a king he had to manage a country and serve a people who did not belong to him. He knew there was an Owner who would hold him accountable for how he treated those God had entrusted to him.
As a steward-leader, David became faithful by keeping the promise he made to both Saul and Jonathan. Certainly, Saul and his descendants did not deserve to be treated kindly. Nevertheless, as a steward-leader, David went beyond the call of duty and showed undeserved kindness (grace) and love. We too are exhorted to remain faithful and loving to those who need us most—at times when they are weak, vulnerable and undeserving.
As steward-leaders who have been adequately provided for with grace, mercy and love from above, we too must perceive such kind gestures of abundant grace and mercy as giving us the opportunity of being kind to those we are given the privilege to lead.
The grace of God invites us all to the table. None should be given priority because they are better lettered than others. No one should be given favors because of their high position in other circles.
When Mephibosheth arrived at the palace of king david, he sat at the main table next to the king. When the food was served, he too was served the best and not the crumbs that fell from the king’s table. He was served the same delicacies with which the king was served.
So, David treated Mephibosheth with the same treatment he lavished on the princes and princesses. He was accepted as part of the family and participated in everything that took place at the palace.
As steward-leaders, we are expected to treat those we lead as equals. None should be preferred or favored from another just because they have a better status. People from all walks of life, whether they be of royalty or from humble homes, whether rich or poor, deserve to be heard and attended to in a manner that will give them dignity and respect.
The grace of God invites us all to the table. None should be given priority because they are better lettered than others. No one should be given favors because of their high position in other circles. Once we are brought to the table of grace, we all assume prince and princess status, and we are given the right to particpate in all the rights, privileges and responsibilities of the fellowship where God has placed us.
As steward-leaders, we are expected to learn from the Master Jesus, as exemplified by King David, who willingly forgave, showed kindness to and restored the fortunes of Mephibosheth when he did not expect or even deserved it.
As steward-leaders we are expected to be accepting of those who were once far from our fellowship, letting them participate fully at the table of fellowship. We must strive for this everyday. We must endeavour to leave people better than we found them.
As steward-leaders, we must avoid revenge and an inclination to retaliate. We may feel that we have the right or are even entitled to treat others in a mean way because of the hurt we have suffered. But when looking at Christ who is our example, and the example of King David, we must strive to show kindness even to those who have done injustices to us or even injured us.
Sometimes, as steward-leaders, we will be favored with an opportunity to oversee those who once treated us unkindly and mercilessly. When fortunes have thus turned in our favor, should we do the same as they did to us? No, instead, we should look to the example of Jesus and David who never took advantage or pleasure in the unfortunate circumstances of others. Rather, we should do the unexpected by showing unprecedented levels of kindness and forgiveness.
There is power in forgiveness. David knew the power of God’s forgiveness for he, himself, was generously forgiven. We see him willingly extending this gesture to the family of Saul who earlier was bent on destroying him.
There is power in forgiveness. David knew the power of God’s forgiveness for he, himself, was generously forgiven. We see him willingly extending this gesture to the family of Saul who earlier was bent on destroying him. As steward-leaders, we are expected to show kindness to others as we ourselves have been shown mercy.
When we have truly been touched by His grace, we will show greater understanding to those we are called upon to lead. We will consider the weaker ones among us, and just like Christ and David, protect and defend them.
The radical grace of Christ ought to flow from us to those around us, especially when they do not expect or deserve such a favor. When we shut the door against those who need us, we surely would have invoked destruction upon ourselves.
As God’s steward-leaders, since we are called upon to lead at such a difficult time as this, we must ask God to make us leaders who have a heart that is shaped, influenced and controlled by the grace of God.