One Year Bible: I Samuel 14:1-52; John 7:32-53; Psalm 109:1-31; Proverbs 15:5-7
It’s Lonely At The Top
They may curse, but you will bless;
when they attack they will be put to shame,
but your servant will rejoice.
Can you imagine what it’s like being the president? At any given time, about half the country admires you and thinks you are doing a decent job while the other half can’t wait for you to just go away. And that’s on a good day! It can be much worse than that for a president. Think about it—it is not uncommon for a sitting president to have sixty to seventy percent of the citizens treat him as if he were Satan’s spawn.
It is hard to imagine why anyone would want that job. And yet, every four years, a herd of politicians line up for their chance to live at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. That can only mean one of two things: They are either crazy or they are called. (Actually, there are several other motives we could talk about—but we’ll save that for another time.)
I’m not sure who said it, but they were right: It’s lonely at the top. Leadership at any level is a tough job. In fact, it is not only tough, it can be a lonely, sometimes thankless, even downright painful job. It certainly was for King David.
David is another man whose leadership we tend to romanticize. But if we were able to catch David in a brutally honest moment, I think he would tell us just how unromantic his job was. If we just go by what he says in the psalms, David lived with persistent criticism for a goodly portion of his reign. It might even seem from reading these psalms, which in a way, was nothing more than David’s spiritual journal, that he was a little paranoid. But that was only because people were out to get him.
I think what made David a great leader was how he endured under the pressure. It wasn’t just his amazing victories, his ever-expanding kingdom, his winsome personality or his musical skill, it was his dogged determination to please God. David took his cues from the Chief Justice of the Universe rather than what would make him a more popular leader at the moment.
You will notice yet again in this psalm that David bookends this detailed account of his detractor’s vicious accusations with his dependence on God (Psalm 109:1 and Psalm 109:30-31). Above all, David wanted God’s blessing more than anything else—high approval ratings, more power, a larger palace. He simply lived for God’s smile, and that’s what made him great, that’s what fueled his endurance under pressure, that’s what enabled him to run strong and finish well.
If you are a leader—in your home, or at school, in your business, in the community or at the church—live for God’s smile, and you, too, will be a great and enduring leader. At least God will think so, and he is really the only one who ultimately counts.
Oh, by the way, before I go I want to encourage you to give your president a break. Here is a good rule of thumb: Pray for him twice as much as you criticize him. Do that, and I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that you’ll quit criticizing him.
“Enduring setbacks while maintaining the ability to show others
the way to go forward is a true test of leadership.”