The column "Leadership Whiteboard" provides a short visual leadership coaching moment. It introduces and explains a new sketch in each issue, provides leadership coaching for further development, and shares a leadership quote and recommended book.
The Leader's Ups and Downs
Many years ago, I read a “biography” on President George Herbert Walker Bush (Bush 41, the elder). This unique volume is entitled All the Best: George Bush, My Life in Letters and Other Writings. The author collected copies of letters, diary entries, and other writings by George from 1941 until 2010 and arranged them chronologically to tell his story.
Letters provided insight into Bush’s college days and naval service, including World War II (some very touching letters). The book contained correspondence from his presidency and the oval office decisions over which he anguished. The author allowed readers to glimpse real insights of this leader. He titled the book All the Best to reflect the way Bush closed nearly every letter.
Writings reveal much about the way a person thought, felt, interacted, viewed himself or herself, and his or her worldview. Just like George Bush’s biography, we gain insight into David from the book of Psalms. (Not every Psalm was written by David, but half were.)
In his writings, David wove the story of his ups and downs through celebrations, raw emotion, and even depression. Like any leader, David’s life experiences found their way into the fabric of each prayer, song, or expression he penned in the Psalms. The warrior-shepherd offered up words the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir later sang: “Thou O Lord are a shield for me, my glory, and a lifter of my head.” Welch Choir, under Vernon Whaley’s direction sang another of his psalms: “O LORD, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” Do you think perhaps David was thinking of facing Goliath and his many other battlefield experiences when he wrote: “The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust.”
Like most leaders, David faced times where deliverance was not assured, creating anxiety and even depression. We see anxious moments like these in Psalm 27 or in the horrible, dark pit that swallowed David in Psalm 40. David did not play the tough guy in his writings, but instead displayed vulnerability when he wrote about his deep grief in Psalm 69 and confessed heartbrokenness over his sin with Bathsheba in Psalm 51.
Regardless of his emotions, colorfully depicted by his own writings, this great leader of the Old Testament knew to follow principles. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way” (Psalm 37:23). He wrote words to comfort us when walking through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23) and reminded us how God reveals the path of life, because in God’s presence is fulness of joy.
Certainly, none of us will write psalms to be added to the canon of Scripture; and few of us will publish an autobiography. However, praying and sharing with close friends can help us through the horrible pits. May these words penned by the leader David (see list at right) encourage you as you experience the ups and downs of life and leadership.