I grew thinking God used only special people, those who were the most gifted, the most attractive and the ones with the most dramatic testimony of conversion. I can still see these types of people standing before youth rallies and other worship gatherings looking cool and telling their stories of how God changed them from a life of dangerous sinfulness and placed on the narrow road of service to Him.
These testimonies were useful in terms of telling the truth about the life transforming power of Jesus Christ. He saves from the guttermost to the uttermost. That is the gospel truth and multitudes of people can testify concerning it.
However, in my young impressionable mind, I felt that I could not be used of God because in many ways I did not measure up to the standards of the most talented and the most attractive. I sure did not have a dramatic testimony to tell others.
Then, as I matured as a Christian, I realized that God can use all kinds of people in His Kingdom service. That was welcome news for me. I began reading the Bible not looking for ideal role models and perfect people but people like David, the Psalmist, the Warrior King and leader of his people.
In Psalm 78, the Psalmist is reciting an abbreviated history of Israel. In the last three verses he describes the kind of person God uses as he describes what the Lord saw in King David. The Psalmist focuses on several leadership qualities personified in the life of David.
I can see four, perhaps five of the important qualities of leadership which I believe are discernable in the life of David and applicable for our lives as well.
Consider these leadership qualities with me.
I. God uses people who have a sense of calling.
In Psalm 78:70 the Bible says, “God chose David”. The call from God to service begins with God Himself. To others, David as a runt of a shepherd boy raised in family of taller and stronger brothers. Yet God called David to His service. This underscores the fact that “man looks upon the outward appearance but God looks upon the heart”. For the believer, salvation is by grace through faith. But the call of God to serve Him is His choice.
At times, I have served on ordination councils for young men going the ministry. The first thing I am looking for is a testimony of God’s saving grace. The second sign post I am waiting to see is the person’s distinct understanding that He has been called of God to the ministry. The call of God must be in a person’s life or the other qualities will be nullified.
II. God uses people who have a sense of character.
No one, who is honest, can describe David as perfect. His sins are many and they became public when prophet Nathan said, “you are the man”. You can almost visualize the long boney finger of Nathan pointing at David when those words gushed forth like a tidal wave of truth slamming against the false pride of his life.
This passage may have written prior to the time when David’s moral indiscretion or adulterous act became known. The word integrity is used in some translations to speak of character. Other translators used the term, “pure in heart”. Both of these expressions speak to the necessity of have a heart dedicated to doing God’s will His way.
The man after God’s heart was once the pure heart that sees God and could be used of God in His kingdom service. Granted, the Lord used David after his sinful deeds but not in the same ways as before. There was always a stain on the pure cloth. There was always a stigma of his sin in his life even after Psalm 51, his confession was offered to God.
God is capable of using anyone and everything for His good but He is looking for those with character. He wants His servants to be people of a pure heart and a clean mind. That sense of character is indispensable for believers to be effective in serving Christ.
III. God uses people who have a sense of commitment.
David was described as a servant who left shepherding sheep to be the shepherd of God’s people. Before he could be the shepherd he had to be a servant. Servant leadership begins with a servant attitude. That is why Paul challenged us to have the “mind of Christ”.
Jesus was the epitome of the servant leader. While the disciples debated and argued who was the greatest, Jesus took a towel and proceeded to wash the dirty feet of the these men. It was a lesson in servant minded we should never forget. The King of Kings stooped to wash the feet of those who would never have been mistaken for greatness in the eyes of the world.
George W. Truett was arguable the most famous pastor in his day. He served the First Baptist Church of Dallas as that church emerged as the fastest growing congregation among Southern Baptists. He was a stalwart leader in his denominational family. Yet on one occasion, Dr. Truett was visited, on a cold snowy evening, by some men seeking his wise counsel. The first thing Dr.Truett did after welcoming them in from the cold and taking their coats, was to seat them by his fire place and one by one he took off their shoes and warmed their cold extremities with his hands massaging them gently by the warmth of the fire. Truett was exemplifying the spirit of Christ.
If we want to be used by God we must be His servants. David left the sheepfolds of his family and shepherded God’s people with a servant leader’s heart of humility and wisdom. This is the commitment our Lord is looking for in us. There is no substitute for this kind of commitment.
IV. God uses people who have a sense of competence.
To be a shepherd, a warrior and a king were huge undertakings and no one could function in these roles without developing God given gifts. For the Christian, competence is all about discovering spiritual gifts, developing them and then deploying them in God’s work and for His glory.
In Christian service there is no place for mediocrity or laziness. This is a horrible testimony for Christ. To be less than our best is make a mockery of our calling, character and commitment to Christ.
We must have a strong work ethic rooted in our love for Christ and not based on any neurotic tendency to prove ourselves to other people or to gain a measure of success in the eyes of anyone but Jesus. Paul captured the spirit of this lifestyle when he declared in Philippians 1:21, “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain”.
The Apostle Paul is an excellent example of one who gave the Lord his full self in dedicated service to Him. He did not hold anything back in reserve, he gave his all and nothing else would be sufficient. That is the philosophy of a person God uses. Nothing is too good for the Lord. He deserves our very best. Like David, we need to be known for the skillfulness of our hands as well as the purity of our hearts.
V. God uses people who have a sense of compatibility.
Being called of God, to have character, a commitment to Christ and competence in terms of spiritual gifts leads to a sense of compatibility. Our Lord delights in seeing us follow Him and being well matched with the ministry to which God has called us. Not everyone can be an international missionary or a mega-church pastor but each of us can seek to be in the will of God and therefore be compatible to what God called us to do.
The Lord can use all our experiences, our educational credentials and everything within us to shape our sense of compatibility for the specific ministry to which He has led us. The new president of Samford University is fond of saying “God does not waste any experience we have in life. He can use everything that happens to us for His glory”.
Until I reached middle age, I really never saw how can used the experiences of life to shape us into the servant He desires us to become. If we are in step with His Spirit and therefore teachable, then he can use the good, the bad and the ugly experiences of our lives to prepare us for ministry in the present and in the future.
As a young, so called preacher boy, I met an elderly minister who had served so faithfully for Christ. Emment Williams had been the pastor of Berney Points Baptist Church until his retirement almost two decades later. He served as Interim Pastor at my home church and so I visited with him in our community and at the local hospitals. I remember his prayers as much as anything. Often he would prayer, “Lord make me usable and I know you will use me”. How many years or decades has Emment Williams been praying that simple prayer. I don’t know but I do know the Lord answered his prayer.