Memo 1043: Celebrated, Not Tolerated

It was 21 years ago this weekend that I decided to write a weekly teaching letter that would help people focus on their purpose and be creative. Today, I write number 1,043 in the series that I named The Monday Memo. More than 1,000 times, I've sat down at my computer, sometimes not knowing what I would write, and God met me at my keyboard every time. Late last year, I considered stopping the Memo but at the last minute changed my mind. After all, why would I stop doing something I love that has been the source for 12 books? So happy anniversary to The Monday Memo! And now, let's continue with our series on leadership and life lessons from the life of David.


David had defeated Goliath and we are told, "When the Israelites returned from chasing the Philistines, they plundered their camp. David took the Philistine’s head and brought it to Jerusalem; he put the Philistine’s weapons in his own tent (1 Samuel 17:53-54)." Then Saul asked what seems like a strange question: "'Abner, whose son is that young man?' Abner replied, 'As surely as you live, Your Majesty, I don’t know'” (1 Samuel 17:55). Did Saul not recognize the young man who was his court musician and newest war hero? There are three options to choose from as an answer to this question.

First, Saul really hadn't paid much attention to the young man who had been hired to play music to calm Saul's foul moods. Second, Saul was simply inquiring into David's family heritage out of curiosity. Third and most probable in my mind is described in the first verses of 1 Samuel 18:

After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. Whatever mission Saul sent him on, David was so successful that Saul gave him a high rank in the army. This pleased all the troops, and Saul’s officers as well. When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres. As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David (1 Samuel 18:1-9).

Saul's father was a military man and Saul was also trained to be a soldier. It was in his blood, but he and everyone else had cowered in fear when Goliath came forth to fight. Yet there was David who had no military pedigree or family name and he had captured the hearts of the people including Saul's own son because of his skill and courage. David had made Saul look bad before the people. Saul  asked who his father because he was jealous, resented David's success, and saw him as a threat. He was incredulous that someone who had not been trained as he had been could enjoy such success.


When you flow in your purpose, God is with you and you will slay your own giants in whatever area God directs you to serve. You would think that people, especially leaders, would rejoice at your success and want to use you as often as possible. That is often not the case. In a sense, you become a threat to the insecure who have not stepped out either to face their Goliaths or to perfect their gifts. They may not celebrate you, but will instead see you as a threat to their position, their image, or their theology that no one should boldly step out and up to achieve something and draw attention to themselves—except them. They can't rejoice even when you do them good by helping to fight their battles.

You can't go home and hide from those who are threatened by your very presence. We will see in the next few weeks, however, that you often can't stay around as they become increasingly hostile or ambivalent toward your presence. Yet God will use them to help develop you and to direct you, for you will see that you must go where you are celebrated and not just tolerated, for there you will be able to be who God created you to be and do what He has equipped you to do. In the meantime, it can be a hard life lesson that not everyone appreciates your good intentions or godly purpose, something we will see again and again as the drama between Saul and David unfolds in the next few lessons. Have a blessed week.  

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