Leadership - 1 Samuel 22
Rev. Dr. Ernest Brodie Jr.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). This is a comforting verse when we are in a time of ease. However, when our lives are in danger or when we are having difficulties, these words are harder to grasp. This requires strong faith in God’s sovereignty. It is during these hard times that God works to strengthen our faith and develop our character and leadership abilities (James 1:12; Proverbs 25:4; 2 Timothy 2:19-21). No one is born a leader, but leadership is developed as we learn from our mistakes. Three different types of leadership are seen in David, Saul, and Eli.
Servant-shepherd leadership - David (1 Samuel 22:1-5)
Servant-shepherd leaders care for others (verses 1-2). David acts as a servant-shepherd leader by reaching out to meet the needs of others as they come to him. Even though David is under stress and in danger from Saul, he cares for the 400 men and their families that come to him.
Servant-shepherd leaders care for their own family including their parents (verses 3-4). Pastors need to be careful when ministering to others that they do not neglect their own families. They need to balance their responsibilities. Part of any child’s responsibility may eventually be to take care of his parents.
Servant-shepherd leaders maintain a relationship with God (verse 5). They must keep their lives right with God and live by faith.
Narcissistic leadership - Saul (1 Samuel 22:6-20)
Narcissistic leaders believe the world revolves around them (verse 6-8). Saul accused his own men of conspiring against him. Narcissistic leaders reject dialogue and debate. These are viewed as a threat to their authority. Friends are treated as enemies, even when they voice legitimate concerns. Narcissistic leaders act as hired shepherds (Ezekiel 34:1-6). They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They only care for themselves and neglect those who are under their care.
Narcissistic leaders surround themselves with wolves (verses 9-10). They look for people they can control and who will do their bidding. They rule through fear, not love. Doeg, hoping for advantage and reward, was willing to spy on and lie about David and report him to Saul. Wolves are never caretakers of the sheep.
Narcissistic leaders are judgmental to the point that they pre-judge situations (verses 11-17). Saul gathered all 85 priests together. He failed to recognize which one was the high-priest, showing he had not been to the temple to worship in a long time. When anyone is not regularly in the Word of God and worshiping and living for the Lord, they will end up with narcissistic behavior. Saul accused the priests of aiding and abetting his perceived enemy, David, and he refused to recognize any of David’s good points. Saul pre-judged and would not listen to reason. He condemned Ahimilech, the priests, and their families to death. Matthew 7:1: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” 1 Corinthians 2:15: “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.” Proverbs 15:28: “The heart of the righteous studieth to answer: but the mouth of the wicked poureth out evil things.”
Narcissistic leaders justify anything, even murder, in order to maintain control (verses 18-20). Some of Saul’s men refused to murder the priests and their families. Doeg, looking for favor from Saul, kills the 85 priests, their families, and their livestock, while Saul stood by and watched.
Laissez-faire leadership - Eli (1 Samuel 2:22-36). 
The laissez-faire leadership of Eli in 1 Samuel 2 led to the deaths of the 85 priests and their families at Nob in 1 Samuel 22. Laissez-faire leaders allow relationships to determine their actions (verses 27-30). Eli failed to discipline the sinful behavior of his sons. Laissez-faire leaders think, pray, and wring their hands, but they do not take action to correct problems (verses 31-33). This leads to spiritual poverty (verse 36).
What kind of leader are you?