Leadership Lessons Part XV: Building Your Team While Taking Greater Risks

David begins to build his team right after his disgraceful journey through Philistine territory and having to act insane in order to evade capture and death. Our text comes from 1 Samuel 22.1-5:

David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. When his brothers and his father’s household heard about it, they went down to him there. 2 All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their commander. About four hundred men were with him. 3 From there David went to Mizpah in Moab and said to the king of Moab, “Would you let my father and mother come and stay with you until I learn what God will do for me?” 4 So he left them with the king of Moab, and they stayed with him as long as David was in the stronghold. 5 But the prophet Gad said to David, “Do not stay in the stronghold. Go into the land of Judah.” So David left and went to the forest of Hereth.

Now that David is following God and not relying on himself to make critical leadership decisions, we see him taking care of several core problems. And he begins the process of building his team.

Who joins David? We’re told his family, those who are distressed, in debt or generally discontented (bitter) with life are joining him. Not exactly the cream of society was joining David, yet in them, David found the team that God wanted him to have. There were roughly 400 men, so assume their families were with them. From a Christian Business Owner’s perspective, we can learn that God can find “top talent” from any source. I’m confident that how God and American business defines “top talent” are two different things. God looks at who you can become whereas business usually looks at what you can do for them today. When God is the Human Resource Director, you can be confident that He’ll bring you people for work in your business that, at first, may not appear to be what you need. Yet, if you rely on God to help you build your team, you’ll find that He’ll bring you the right people at the right time.


David crosses the area of Jerusalem several times. He first goes to another country – Moab – who are more friendly to him than the Philistines. He’s now listening to God. Note the phrase “…until I learn what God will do for me?” He first takes care of his immediate family and then begins to focus on solving other problems.

God sends Gad

God sends messengers to leaders. In this story, God sent Gad to David to deliver His messages. Today, we have the Holy Spirit and, I believe, we can hear the voice of God directly for making better decisions. As usual, one of God’s first directives is to put us into a place of greater dependence on Him. Don’t less this transition here lose focus for you: the first thing God told David to do was to leave the stronghold. Get away from the structures that you have built to fortify yourself. Get away from the man-made elements that provide you a sense of security. Let them go. Do not stay in the stronghold. As Christian Business owners, we’re often risking in order to grow our businesses. I’m fond of saying that I’m usually only three to five decisions away from bankruptcy. Growing a business requires taking risk. God will ask us to take risks as well. If we’re serious about fulfilling the four purposes of business (Products, Passions, Profits and Philanthropy), then God will ask us to leave our strongholds and move to a place of much greater dependence on Him. This will be a test He will give you to pass.

“Do not stay in the stronghold” is only part of the message. The rest of is this: “Go live in Judea” – the place where there are forests and caves but also a place that is closer to danger. In Judea, Saul is closer to David. The man and King who wants to kill David will be in closer proximity to David. Yet God calls David to Judea. There will be times when, in order to fulfill the four purposes of business, God will ask you to risk more and move closer to the danger. Bear in mind that no significant ministry is ever accomplished without taking significant risk. And when you are led by God, He shoulders the risk with you and is responsible for the outcomes.


In this story, we see the less-than-desirable of society gravitating to David. Believe it or not, it is this group that will form the core of his team and eventually, his government. But we also see God moving David into a position of greater personal risk. Most would say the combination of these two elements is a terrible way to start a movement, yet David follows God. The larger lesson is this: when God speaks, you follow Him, unwaveringly so. And count on God’s ways to be different than what you’d expect – but follow Him anyways. If He is calling you to significant ministry, He will also call you to significant risk. Count on it. Plan on it. But only take on that risk when you’re directed to by God Himself.