1 Samuel Bible

Faithfully Serve in Spite of the Leader

Today I am continuing to write about the leadership and following principles we can learn from the life of David when he was a young man who had been anointed to be king, but was still under the rule of King Saul.

This week we are in chapter 18 of 1 Samuel which follow’s David’s triumph of killing Goliath the giant. At this point in time, David and the country of Israel are riding a lot of momentum and are at a high point. Then, we see some troubles that David encounters because of the success he had in defeating Goliath.

If you are not familiar with chapter 18 of 1 Samuel, you can read it in your own Bible or online here.

After studying this chapter in depth, I have created the theme that we as followers should:

Faithfully Serve in Spite of the Leader

In this chapter we see David do exactly that: faithfully serve in spite of Saul.

There are four important observations we can make about David from this passage:

  1. David stayed with Saul and did not go home (v. 2).
  2. David faithfully did whatever Saul wanted him to do (v. 5).
  3. David continued to be successful in everything he did (v. 14).
  4. David was still the most successful (v. 30).

Here are a few of my observations about why and how we faithfully serve in spite of the leader.

As we begin to have success as a young leader, the person above us might not always react kindly.

In this passage of scripture we see Saul become tremendously jealous of David. Saul cares so much about being popular and loved that he can’t stand the idea that the people of Israel would say, “. . . Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands!” (1 Sam 18:7).

Big deal! David killed more men than Saul. You would think Saul would have gotten over this. In fact, a great leader should have been happy to see one of his own men become more successful than him. That is the true test of leadership: to mentor others and build them up to go on and do greater and bigger things than you as a leader. Instead, we see Saul react negatively when David is praised for being a great warrior.

The implication of this for us as leaders is that as we have those golden opportunities to lead we need to beware of the opposition that we might face from the very person we would least expect it: our leader. In this case, David had his opportunity to show the king and every other Israelite how courageous and mighty he was when fighting Goliath. And when he did, he began to experience opposition for the person who should have been the most happy: Saul.

When we as young leaders start to have success our leader can celebrate with us or work against us. Hopefully you have a leader who celebrates with you.

David served Saul, Israel, and God as best he could regardless of Saul’s treatment.

We have no evidence that shows Saul’s treatment of David affected David’s commitment to serve Saul, Israel, and God. For David, he was first committed to serving God, then to his country of Israel, and the Lord’s anointed king, which happened to be Saul.

Regardless of the situation we find ourselves in (or the leader we work under) we should serve the best we can.

David seems to be much more concerned with serving God and the nation of Israel than he is with serving Saul. David was first committed to serving God, then his country of Israel, then Saul.

The secret to us serving our leader faithfully despite our circumstances is not to simply serve our leader. We are to serve God in the process of doing our normal daily job and allow our leader to get in the way of that faithful service to God.

In the sport of golf there is an analogy about how you simply let the ball get in the way of the club as you swing the club. The idea is that you simply imagine that you are swinging a golf club smoothly and you allow the golf ball to get in the way of your smooth swing. If you “try to hit the ball” your swing comes out differently and not as smooth as before. But if you only focus on the smooth swing and nothing else, you have a better chance of hitting the ball well when it just gets in the way of your swing.

The same thing can be applied to leaders. If we do our best to serve God, and simply allow our leader to be above us, we will do great work.

To wrap up this lesson, a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is very relevant to our application of how we need to faithfully serve in spite of the leader:

If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.

Question: How do you believe you can faithfully serve in spite of your leader?

By Christopher L. Scott

Christopher L. Scott serves as senior pastor at Lakeview Missionary Church in Moses Lake, Washington. Through his writing ministry more than 250,000 copies of his articles, devotions, and tracts are distributed each month through Christian publishers. Learn more at