A key leadership principle I learned in the military was to take care of my troops first. This was borne from thousands of years of experience by military leaders before me. The officers who take care of their troops, who genuinely care for their welfare, who put their troops above themselves, are the ones who routinely got more out of said troops. However, it’s more than just about getting more out of someone. It’s also about building relationships and developing a culture where one willingly and selflessly sacrifices for another. The unit that has this mindset can do seemingly impossible things.
This sounds like how Christianity is supposed to be, doesn’t it? That’s because it is how Christianity is supposed to be. Our model is Jesus and time and time again in the Scriptures we see how He was selfless, how He put others above Himself, and how He chose to serve. He did so even though it imperiled His life. And if that’s His example, that’s the model we are to follow.
And David went from there to Mizpeh of Moab. And he said to the king of Moab, “Please let my father and my mother stay with you, till I know what God will do for me.” And he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him all the time that David was in the stronghold. – 1 Samuel 22:3-4, ESV
David was in trouble. Saul was hunting him down. Yet in spite of his own troubles, David took the time to think about his parents. He knew they could become Saul’s targets because of him. As a result, he went and got his parents and negotiated with the king of Moab so that they could reside there safely until all the trouble blew over.
My thoughts on this are if I had been Saul, I would have thought David would try something like this. So either I would have planned to ambush him on his way to Bethlehem or I would have followed his parents until they met up. Then I would have destroyed David and his forces. I might even have used his parents as leverage to have him surrender without a fight. That way I would have preserved the available manpower Israel had to command against its enemies.
As smart a man militarily as David was, I am sure he considered this to be a very real possibility. Yet he still chose to go and get his parents and put them out of harm’s way. He took care of them first. He put aside his own situation and focused on the people who were important to him. Actions like these are why David was described as a man after God’s own heart, despite his many faults.
In our Christian walk we need to be aware of the folks around us: fellow church attenders, neighbors, family members, the overworked cashier at our grocery store, everyone. It’s really easy to become self-centered, especially when we’re in a tough spot or just have had a lousy day. However, what God asks of us is that we aren’t self-focused at all. Instead, He would have us consider others first, to take care of the folks around us. Sure, we must maintain our relative health in order to continue to be a servant to others, but we should not be so concerned about being first, about being most prominent, about being anything but a servant to everyone. After all, didn’t He say something about those who put themselves last here on earth getting to be first in heaven?