He’s morally confusing, yet I’m intrigued by him. When we speak of blown leadership potential we must simply turn to 1 Samuel and begin reading about Saul. He certainly deserves the negative press he’s received and the many church leaders today use his life as a stark example of how NOT to lead, yet I would assume many of us lead exactly this way.

We’re impatient.

We’re impulsive.

We’re compromising.

We’re paranoid.

We’re liars.

Yet….

We’re warriors.

We’re compassionate.

We’re esteeming.

We’re persistent.

We’re more than conquerors.

We are the culmination of past mistakes and future promises that ball themselves up into a sphere of personal confusion which, if left unchecked, will build into an assemblage of self-destructive behavior. A pocket full of dynamite can create quite a crater and many of our pockets are overflowing with moral explosives.

Saul’s explosive tendencies placed him a provincial purgatory. It’s a torturous state where the haunting of what could have been collides with the reality of what is and the decisions that are born out of past and present colliding never benefit the future. Saul held on, and the quandary is that God allowed it.

Saul had received the prophetic word from Samuel. He squandered his opportunity, was disobedient to the Lord far too many times, and the kingdom would soon be ripped from his hands and given to another. It was clear. It was irrefutable. Yet, somehow in the pride of position Saul determined it was not God’s to take away so Saul stayed.

After a myriad of poor choices Saul was pursing David at Keilah, seeking to kill him for being, well, honorable and loyal.

“Saul was told that David had gone to Keilah, and he said, “God has delivered him into my hands, for David has imprisoned himself by entering a town with gates an bars.” (1 Samuel 23:7)

This was not the case at all! God was actually delivering David and detaining Saul. Somewhere along the line Saul’s pride caused him to suffer from a severe case of mistaken identity. Despite God’s prophetic proclamation, despite Samuel’s rebuke, despite David’s honor and heroics, Saul was determined to prove that God was still on his side and not on David’s. Saul was seeking to kill an innocent man at all costs, and somehow it was the Lord that would allow it to happen. Saul was operating by his calling, but David was leading by His anointing.

Pride filled leadership can cause such a blindness. Stephen Covey noted, “We judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.” We often mistake talent for presence and results for anointing. We fail to realize that our talent can take us where our character can’t keep us, and this was the case with Saul.

We are quick to elevate capacity over character and wonder why the structure splinters in the storm.

Self-Awareness is one of the greatest traits a leader can possess. It is easy to mistake our past success for a present anointing. We must fight against this mistaken identity. We must come, prostrate, broken, desperate before the Lord each day and proclaim his promises, prepare for forgiveness, and plan for restoration. We must never assume because He was on our side in our former successes He will delay judgment for latter disobedience.

Saul thought God was still fighting for him, yet God had moved on and anointed a man who would carry out his promises. David was obviously not without flaw, but the Lord’s favor is drawn to a repentant heart.

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9

If Saul had a greater level of self-awareness, he would have invested in David, not try to kill him. He would have trained him to exalt him, not chase him to bury him.

Know who you are, know who you’re not, and know who He has called you to be, then fight to become the man or woman that will lead by His present anointing, not your past calling.