Psalm 131 in the Bible is for leaders. It was written by a leader, King David. It was penned from a leader’s perspective. It is a Psalm, a prayer, that every spiritual leader must heed. It is that important.
Many do not read the Psalms as they were intended. We try and read Hebrew poetry like one of Paul’s letters. It can’t be done, at least not in a meaningful way. Poetry is meant to affect your soul. It is meant to move you, to draw out your emotions towards Yahweh. There is meter, rhythm and rhyme. Of course, some of it is lost in translation. But most of it remains fully in tact. And it is God’s inspired and infallible word, so it can still have the desired result in our lives.
Leaders can spend most of their days in an emotionless world of strategic plans, HR decisions, or cost-benefit analysis. Even spiritual leaders can get caught in a very man-centered approach to giving oversight and direction. We need to pray back the Psalms to God and allow the emotions He gave us to wash over us, so that we feel as leaders and not just think like one.
Psalm 131 is a very brief Psalm, yet it is packed with wisdom and perspective.
O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time forth and forevermore.
This is a psalm of ascent, meaning it was one that was prayed, quoted, or sung on the way to the temple on a holy day. But notice the language and the emotions of this psalm. David declares that his heart is not lifted up. This is King David, the most revered king in Israel’s history. He had great power and authority. He had every reason to be proud. But his own status and accomplishments were not his focus. Notice that his only audience in this Psalm is the Lord. Any other would draw his focus to himself.
He proclaims “my eyes are not raised too high.” David recognizes where his help comes from, even as a leader. The greatest stumbling block for any leader is self-competent pride. Most leaders, especially when they have tasted a measure of success, quickly lift up their hearts and raise their eyes, not unto God, but unto themselves.
David goes on to say that he does not occupy himself with things too great or too marvelous. Instead, he states that he is like a weaned child–that his soul is like a weaned child. A weaned child is one who has learned to draw nourishment other than through suckling. A weaned child is a content child, one who is quieted and calm. A weaned child is one who has moved past infancy into the role of a toddler, and who is content to simply be with his mother, not always demanding of her the next meal. David ends the psalm with the exhortation for all of Israel to “hope in the Lord.” This is a humble prayer, a humble declaration to fully trust in Yahweh. This is from a king, a great king! This is a song of great humility. And humility is a necessity for great leadership.
How many leaders do you know that live like this?
How are you doing?
Do you live a leadership life that is occupied with what God has given you to do?
Do you lead more from self-competency or godly character?
Do you live and lead as a calm quieted soul, or as a hurried, preoccupied driven person?
The issue is one of humility, hope, and trust.
Will you lean into Him for life and leadership?