One of the most powerful lessons in David’s history is when he was face to face with King Saul discussing David going to fight Goliath. Saul wants David to go fight in his armour, and David refuses saying:
I cannot go with these, I haven’t tested them – 1 Sam. 17.38
This is a great leadership principle – don’t go with what you haven’t tested already! It’s amazing how many leaders will appoint a new, shiny external candidate and ignore the tried and tested people they have who have already proved their loyalty and wisdom over and over and over. I’ve had people storm out of the church because their degree or background was worth less to me than the loyalty and the faithfulness of the person I promoted over them. Their reaction verified my decision!
I made a decision a while back I will never appoint a pastor externally – if you can’t be with the Tree of Life and be fed, you don’t get to join the feeding team. That way we test people before we rely on them!
- Don’t rely on a pastor you haven’t tested. It’s amazing how many people have left churches with pastors they know and know well, and gone off to end up nothing and nowhere. That’s bizarre behaviour, and it means you will lose a fight or two! If David hadn’t been able to say “I’m only off to war with what I know” Goliath would have knocked him too the moon!
- Don’t enter business with people you haven’t tested. Again, this is more common in church because we don’t act wise sometimes. As Jesus said the children of the world can be wiser than us, especially where money is concerned, and the world knows that a fool and his cash are easily parted. Don’t do it. Test people – look for their track record. Don’t enter business into a field where you haven’t proven it works.
- Don’t marry someone you haven’t tested. Men – I am talking to you. You act all Christian and wise, then some girl blinks at you, and you don’t care about who she has been with, her past record, her prayer life, it all goes out the window. Don’t be a fool! A mysterious personality should not be attractive to you – it should be a warning sign. Take the time to find out!
I am very much like David in this regard. I want to know if what I am being taught and the tools I am being given work. When someone tells me how to pastor my church I want to see their church first, or what they are saying is just theory. When their church is twenty sad people, I don’t want their advice. When one of my sons is being taught “this is how you take a funeral service”, and the advice to me didn’t make any sense, I said to him “how many funerals has the teacher done” – or the advice isn’t tested.
When another son was being taught to live in a council house for the rest of his life at uni, I told him “did you ask the person teaching this where they lived?”. You have to test things. When someone tells me that, as they did today, that the Christian life is best lived going to 3 or 4 conferences a year and not going to local church on a weekly basis, I wanted to ask a few questions about his marriage and his children and his peace of mind because I wanted to see if this was tested.
Listen – this sounds a little facetious, but this is serious. Entering into business, your spiritual life, who you marry – all of these are vitally important things. And all of these things have giants in the way! Huge ugly ferocious giants. And if you are serious about beating these Goliaths, please do not go out and fight them in a way you haven’t tested. I don’t want you to be smooshed into paste, I want you to win. Learn this lesson!