The book Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby explains how to become a spiritual leader. The two authors cite stories and examples from Scripture that indicate how people succeed or fail in their quest to lead others. In this excerpt, the authors caution those of us who lead to be careful about the way we use (or accidentally misuse) our speech. It’s a great warning about the influence we have with our words:
Leaders should realize that even when they say things casually, their people may take them seriously. Such was the case with David. David was camped outside Bethlehem with his men while a Philistine garrison occupied Bethlehem. In an unguarded moment, David remarked wistfully, “If only someone would bring me water to drink from the well at the city gate of Bethlehem!” (2 Sam. 23:15). Immediately, three of his loyal men set out for the well. David’s friends fought their way through a contingent of Philistine soldiers until they reached the coveted water. When they returned with their prize, David was appalled at what he had done. By his selfish wish, three of his most loyal soldiers endangered their lives for something unnecessary. In that instance David was careless with his influence.
Those of us who lead groups have a stewardship of influence. Part of our influence comes through the way we use our words. Let’s agree to be extra careful and measure the words we say, especially when we say them in front of the people we lead. David didn’t mean to endanger his men, but a few careless words almost proved disastrous.
In a day and age in which people casually place words in social media for the world to see, let’s be known as people who lead spiritually and carefully weigh the words we choose to use. As we craft responses to send by email, or as we engage in conversation, may the words of our mouths be pleasing to the Lord.
Ken Braddy manages Lifeway’s Ongoing Bible studies, leads a Bible study group, and blogs about groups at kenbraddy.com.