The Character of a Leader: how to grow in Christ-like humility

There’s an easy and a hard way to grow in humility, says the writer of Proverbs.  The easy way is for honest confrontation of your friends (Proverbs 27:6, 17). The hard way is the consequence of your arrogance.

Before we reflect on an illustrative incident from King David’s life, look at this helpful video on how to grow in Christi-like humility (


2 Samuel 16:5-13

5  Now when King David came to Bahurim, there was a man from the family of the house of Saul, whose name was Shimei the son of Gera, coming from there. He came out, cursing continuously as he came. 6  And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David. And all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7  Also Shimei said thus when he cursed: “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! 8  The LORD has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the LORD has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!”

9  Then Abishai the son of Zeruiah said to the king, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!” 10  But the king said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? So let him curse, because the LORD has said to him, ‘Curse David.’ Who then shall say, ‘Why have you done so?’ ” 11  And David said to Abishai and all his servants, “See how my son who came from my own body seeks my life. How much more now may this Benjamite? Let him alone, and let him curse; for so the LORD has ordered him. 12  It may be that the LORD will look on my affliction, and that the LORD will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” 13  And as David and his men went along the road, Shimei went along the hillside opposite him and cursed as he went, threw stones at him and kicked up dust.

Observation and reflection questions

Context: King David was fleeing from his son Absalom when a Shimei, a descendent of the late King Saul cursed and attacked him fiercely, charging him with the blood of Saul’s house.

  • Picture King David, an heroic fighter on the move during civil war, surrounded by his legendary mighty men. Everyone is battle-ready Then suddenly a delusional man, family of the late king who hunted them down, starts throwing rocks at this regal king, cursing him.
  • What would you expect to happen?
  • What does happen?
  • How long did this go on?
  • What were David’s two motives for letting Shimei continue with the harassment?
  • What does this suggest of David’s character?

Personal reflection and application

David, the mighty warrior-king, restrained his legendary bodyguards while a lunatic hurled insults and curses on him for a whole day, because “the Lord might be saying something to me.” True humility displayed by a great leader!

  1. From your experience, how do people typically respond when they are critiqued or accused of something?
  • How do you typically feel when you are critiqued or accused of something?
  • How do you typically respond when you are critiqued or accused of something?
  • Prayerfully try to discern WHY you feel and respond this way.
  • What would be a wise, mature response when you are being critiqued or accused?

2. Send this letter to your three closest friends, and continually ask them for a response until you get it. Then thank them for their love it:

“Dear ______.  I consider you an honest friend who knows me well.  I really want to grow in character and I need your input.  Please answer the following three questions as briefly and honestly as you can.  I know that without your honest input I will probably remain stuck where I am, so help me see myself!

(i) What is my greatest relational strength?  What sets me apart from the rest?

(ii) What aspect of my character is my “Achilles heel” – my weak spot where i am most vulnerable, where I can most easily be taken out?  And do you have a tip on how I could grow in it?

(iii) You’ve known me for a while.  Have you observed a destructive pattern in my life which I might be ignoring? Do you have ideas on how I can get rid of this pattern?

Thank you for your courage and honestly  _______. I consider myself blessed having you part of my life!”

  1. When your friends send through their answers, pray that you may hear God speaking through them.  Afterwards make an appointment with each friend – allow them to speak into your life in these three areas they mention. Don’r defend yourself! Learn and grow!


Thank God for friends who love you enough to speak the truth.  Ask the Lord to speak clearly through them – tell God that you want to grow in Christ-like humility.

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