A Man After My Own Heart - The Warrior's Journey®

A Man After My Own Heart

Author: Chaplain, COL Scott McChrystal, USA (Ret.)

Army Activates Afghanistan-Bound Brigade. Photo by The U.S. Army is licensed under CC By 2.0

“After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'” Acts 13:22 (NIV)

Paratroopers from Company A, forefront, and Company B, rear, compete against each other during the 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion’s commemoration of the 74th anniversary of the Waal River Crossing on Wednesday, October 3, 2018 on Fort Bragg’s McKellar’s Pond. The paratroopers were competing to cross the lake five times in honor of Pfc. Willard Jenkins, killed by enemy fire while manning a rudder during the WWII river assault.

In almost every venue, military or civilian, people agree that good character remains essential to functioning as an effective leader.

Many have written and spoken about character as it relates to leadership, but I’m still not sure we’ve made much progress. Why? Perhaps it’s because we are not giving proper attention to how God views character. Doesn’t it make sense that if we can understand character as God sees it, we can enhance our own leadership?

So, let’s get started. The above verse provides enormous insight. God commends David as a man after God’s own heart. In biblical terms, heart is challenging to define precisely, but we can say that the heart is the very core of our being. What happens in our heart affects who we are and what we do. It’s fair to say that our hearts reflect our character.

If David was a man after God’s own heart, surely he was moving in the right direction toward having the kind of character the Lord wants us to reflect. No, David wasn’t perfect. As a matter of fact, his resume has some bad stuff, even worse than would appear on many of our own resumes.

Moving forward, let’s focus on the answers to two questions:

  • What are some of David’s character traits that helped to identify him as a man after God’s own heart?
  • Once we identify these traits, how do we grow and develop in these areas?

Approximately half of the Psalms identify David as the author. From his own words, below are some of the most notable traits associated with David’s godly character.

Dependence Upon God:

“The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want” (Psalm 23:1, NIV). David voices his complete trust that God will provide everything he needs. This level of trust doesn’t come naturally for military leaders. The culture within the military encourages teamwork, but it also praises toughness, personal initiative, and a brand of individualism that doesn’t ask for help. By writing these words, David demonstrates that even the toughest of military leaders need to trust the Lord.

Integrity of Heart:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24, NIV). David wanted truth above anything else- but not just truth as David understood it. He wanted to know truth as God saw it. Military leaders must get the truth in order to make the best decisions. In similar fashion, leaders should be willing to pursue the truth about themselves as the Lord reveals it. Pursuing truth is the only road toward integrity of heart.

Loving God:

“I love you, O LORD, my strength” (Psalm 18:1, NIV). Loving God is foundational for godly character. Before he ever could love God, David knew that God loved him first. From the time of his youth as a shepherd boy, David experienced the Lord’s love. His relationship with God grew as he learned more and more about the extent of God’s love for him. God’s love for military leaders today is no less, but the challenge is to learn and experience it at a personal level. The hectic and demanding pace of military life discourages personal time with God. In order to grow, however, we must make choices. We must choose to spend time with the Lord in Bible study and prayer. God will honor our efforts. We will understand more about God’s unconditional love as we spend time in his presence.

Awareness of God’s Presence:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7, NIV). David lived a hard life. Despite the sufferings and difficulties he experienced, he clung to the fact that God’s presence never left him. David cherished this knowledge and wrote about it many times in the Psalms. This knowledge enabled him to keep his perspective, especially to include the surety of knowing that when his life on earth ended, David would spend eternity in the house of the Lord.

What about you? In the daily grind of your responsibilities, are you aware of God’s presence? Do you realize that He is not only with you, but will watch over you in every situation? Does this bring comfort and assurance to you? Hopefully it does! 

These are only a few of the many godly characteristics David demonstrated. Can you see how having these as part of his character not only pleased the Lord but also made David a more effective leader?

One more important question remains. It’s one thing to identify godly character traits but quite another to actually possess and demonstrate them in the way we live and lead. For example, most of us admire genuine humility, but admiring humility doesn’t automatically mean we practice it as leaders.

So how do you grow in character and exhibit traits that align with God’s heart? The answer is simple, but not easy:

  • Recognize the need to have these traits as part of your character.
  • Commit to developing them. This requires commitment and perseverance. At times, you will fail, but the critical step is to keep trying. Memorizing key Bible verses about character will help to strengthen and motivate you.
  • Ask the Lord to help you. As mere morals created by God, we can’t grow in character through reliance solely on our own strength.

Becoming a man or woman after God’s own heart is not limited to David. The Lord wants that for all of us. It’s both desirable and achievable.

So why not commit today to this worthy goal? As you grow in these godly traits, God will transform your character. You can count on it.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/30427617147/ (By U.S. Army, Licensed under CC by 2.0)
https://www.flickr.com/photos/soldiersmediacenter/47001753554/ (By U.S. Army, Licensed under CC by 2.0)

The content of this Devotional comes from “Daily Strength for the Battle (You, God’s Word, 5 Minutes): Volume 6 Developing the Leader in You” (2020) and is copyrighted by Scott and Judy McChrystal. Used with permission.

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