Too many apprentices (subordinates) claim the title and portfolio of leadership and prematurely seek exposure before their time, breeding a generation of unprepared, inexperienced, and immature leaders. Sadly, everyone claims to be a leader instead of following, and this situation ruefully cuts across almost all sectors of life: from the clergy to politicians, the business arena to education institutions, through the judicial service to the legislature, etc.
There is a serious leadership crisis in our time. It’s quite alarming how individuals and groups easily break away from institutions, superiors, and organisations prematurely to establish their own and become bosses overnight, with the notion of being their own bosses and not under any superior. In fact, the spirit of Elisha and Ruth in waiting and seeking nourishment, guidance, and experience under leaders is lacking.
Whether born a leader or desiring to lead, there is a great necessity to learn to follow before leading at the appropriate time. This cannot be entirely said of today’s generation, which has been blinded by the quest to lead by all means.
In this article, I shall use David and his mighty men as a case study, referencing 2 Samuel 23:8-39. Our interest shall be focused on the three mighty men of David and then draw meaningful lessons on their remarkable roles in David’s administration behind the scenes.
King David has undoubtedly been seen as one of the greatest kings in Israel. His account is rich with stories of triumph, adversity, and spiritual connection, making him a central figure in Biblical history. When David is mentioned, true leadership comes to mind.
David’s mighty men were a group of exceptional warriors and loyal supporters who played a crucial role in the life of King David, as recorded in the Bible. As David faced challenges and enemies, a group of warriors rallied around him. These individuals demonstrated extraordinary courage and loyalty. In the annals of biblical history, King David’s reign is not only marked by his own exploits but also by the indomitable spirit and valour of his loyal warriors. These extraordinary individuals played pivotal roles in securing David’s throne and establishing a legacy of courage and devotion.
A TRIUMVIRATE OF VALOR – MEN BEHIND THE SCENES
David’s Three Mighty Men, comprising Adino, Eleazar, and Shammah, were not mere soldiers but exemplars of courage and fortitude.
Josheb-Basshebeth, also called Adino the Eznite, was credited with single-handedly slaying 800 enemies in a remarkable display of valour (2 Samuel 23:8).
Eleazar, undaunted by a battlefield withdrawal, stood firm and secured a victory against the Philistines when others faltered (2 Samuel 23:9-10). He fought alongside David against the Philistines and played a critical role in securing victory.
Shammah, the third in this triumvirate, defended a field of lentils against Philistine forces, demonstrating his unwavering commitment to protecting what mattered, no matter how trivial it seemed when others had retreated, showcasing the steadfast commitment that defined David’s Mighty Men (2 Samuel 23:11-12).
A BOND BEYOND DUTY
The allegiance of these mighty men to David went beyond mere duty; it was a bond forged in the crucible of shared trials and victories. Their loyalty is highlighted in various episodes, such as when David longed for water from the well of Bethlehem. The Three Mighty Men, recognising the significance of their leader’s desire, braved enemy lines to bring him the water he desired, risking their lives to fulfil David’s longing (2 Samuel 23:13-17).
SACRIFICE BEYOND DUTY
The narratives of Adino, Eleazar, and Shammah offer timeless lessons in leadership and sacrifice. Their commitment to David, their feats of valour, and their willingness to go to great lengths for the sake of their king exemplify the qualities of true warriors and devoted subjects. These stories serve as a source of inspiration for leaders and individuals alike, emphasising the importance of courage, loyalty, and selflessness in the pursuit of a noble cause.
LOYALTY IN ADVERSITY
The Mighty Men were not merely skilled in combat; they embodied loyalty in the face of adversity. Whether confronting enemies on the battlefield or standing by David during his fugitive years, their commitment was unwavering, contributing significantly to David’s survival and ultimate ascent to the throne.
NOT JUST SERVICE BUT LEGACY
The stories of David’s Mighty Men resonate beyond the pages of biblical history, offering timeless lessons on courage, camaraderie, and the indispensable role of loyalty in pursuing a noble cause. Their exploits highlight the importance of a dedicated and unified team in overcoming challenges and achieving victory.
LEADERSHIP IS NOT AN ISLAND
It’s said, “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go with others.” Again, Tom Peters once said, “Leaders don’t create followers; they create leaders.” A remarkable leadership quality identified about David is how harmoniously he works with subordinates and grows them into leadership. The fear of today’s leader raising a subordinate into leadership is the fact that the subordinate may outgrow him and take over. I foresee this as one of the causes of subordinates breaking away. In as much as David experienced many assassinations from subordinates, so did he experience much success and defense from loyal subordinates. If one fears going all out regardless, he is not a leader in the first place. It’s of great essence to create loyal leaders; it will pay you off eventually in the end.
It’s quite amazing the significant role these men performed in David’s administration. Yet little is said about them, but the most touching part is how behind the scenes, they contributed immensely but did not claim glory nor seek to betray David along the way. Every organisation, institution, or nation must seek such kind of subordinates. It must also be the desire of every individual who aspires for leadership to embrace such an attitude, qualities, and desire. That’s the only way to successfully attain leadership.
In the tapestry of David’s reign, the threads woven by his Three Mighty Men are vivid and enduring. Their valour, loyalty, and sacrifices have left an indelible mark on biblical history, embodying the timeless qualities of courage and devotion. As we reflect on their stories, we find inspiration to face our challenges with unwavering resolve and stand firm in loyalty to those we serve. The legacy of David’s Three Mighty Men is a testament to the enduring power of courage and commitment in the face of adversity.
At this point, it must be noted that every leader’s strength and success are proportional to the strength, loyalty, sacrifice, and commitment of his inner men. No leader leads in isolation; you need selfless and devoted mighty men to go beyond boundaries and break limits.
Written by Elder Patrick Turkson (Asenemaso District Youth Ministry Leader)