Things were looking bad to put it mildly. One couldn’t tell whether the grim situation was more oppressive than the smoldering heat of the clear, blue day. The sun’s incandescence and brightness beat down on the rugged terrain of sandy rocks and rough vegetation. The day was clear and quiet, no bird dared to make a noise. All that could be heard over the cliffs and ravines was the low howl of the wind. A battle had just taken place earlier, and it felt as if the whole land was silent in mourning. Bright, blue, hot and quiet. The defeated army was in hiding.
Peering over the rock and through the shriveled brush, young Jonathan squinted through the piercing bright light of the sun. There, on top of the cliff, stood a group of tall men, armored and equipped with weapons of iron. They stood confidently with spear and shield, silhouetted in the hot sun as they surveyed the rocky terrain from on top of the cliff. He couldn’t see their faces, yet heard their voices. Jonathan’s eyes watched them as they moved around, some receding behind the edge of the cliff and some coming out into sight. Their confidence was evident as they laughed at the Israelite army melting away. Some men boasted of their spoils, others who had just come back from one of the raids paraded around trinkets and valuables they had taken from the slain.
Dropping down into the shadow of the rock again, Jonathan wiped the sweat and dust from his brow. “Twenty, perhaps more,” he said to the young man hiding beside him. The young man, his armor bearer, stretched his neck and peered over the rock.
“No doubt more,” he added, keeping his spear pointed low below the brush. He dropped down again and looked at Jonathan, the prince of Israel, who had an unnatural confidence and strength to his countenance. The prince looked almost as if he could take on the whole Philistine army singlehandedly, and it was that look that moved the armor bearer to repeat to his master the words he had said earlier. “Do all that you have in mind. Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.”
“Then follow me,” Jonathan said. With that he rose and willingly stepped out into the light of the sun. He stood tall in opposition to the Philistine outpost on the cliff, his hand on the hilt of his sword, his other held tight in a fist.
“Look,” he heard one say. “The Hebrews are crawling out of the holes they were hiding in.” The Philistines laughed, then shouted to Jonathan and the armor bearer, “Come up to us and we’ll teach you a lesson!”
Jonathan smiled, then turned to the young man behind him. “Climb up after me,” he said. “The Lord has given them into the hand of Israel.” Bold as a lion, the prince raced forward and began climbing up the cliff with his armor bearer right behind him. As he reached the top, a group of about twenty men raced forward with pointed spears and a ferocious war cry. Jonathan unsheathed his sword. The steel sang and the blade gleamed in the hot sun. With a faith so evident that his eyes burned with passion for the God of Israel, he surged forward with all that he had.
Read1 Samuel 14:1-14
My parents told me as I grew up that the essence of leadership is knowing what you believe in and believing what you believe in. My mother told me recently that every leader has something that they completely believe in. My father described a leader as a rock on the coast. The waves beat the sides of the rock tenaciously, yet the rock doesn’t move. When waves crash into it, it remains where it is. As the surface of the waves bob with each surge and recession of water, you will often see barnacles clinging to the lower parts of the rock. These barnacles are looking for something secure to cling to in the rocky waves of their life.
If you plant yourself on any position of thought, you are going to be beaten with waves of criticism and opinion. I can promise you that. There may be something that you know you should do, but you know that once you start making steps in that direction, you are going to get battered with wave after wave of opposition.
What do you really believe in? Everyone believes that the Lord can provide, but in the midst of the beating waves do you believe that he will? It’s not a question of what God can do, we’ve been trained ever since Sunday school to say that God can do all things. The question is, will God do this? Every leader must come face to face with whether they believe that or not. If they don’t, then they won’t be able to lead when the waves of adversity, like the Philistines, begin to hard-press their dreams.
Be the rock and, though the surging waves of adversity look daunting, stand firm on the Word of God and its promises. In fact, one of the promises in the Bible is that you will face adversity! As a leader, you must hold fast. Regardless of whether you stand alone or stand in a crowd of a hundred-thousand, you must stand strong on the truth. Remember, people may not believe what you say, but they will always believe what you do.