Leadership Starts in the Pasture
If I asked you what you did today, what would you say? Maybe it would be something like, “I
worked a dead-end job,” “I changed some diapers,” or “I studied some material that I’ll never use
again.” But whether you believe it or not, God is using this daily faithfulness to build character in
and through you. It’s not wasted time. It’s pasture time.
In the Bible, when God wants to prepare a leader, he often sends that leader to the pasture, not
the palace. Psalm 78:72 says, “With upright heart [David] shepherded them and guided them with
his skillful hand” (ESV). And where did he learn to shepherd God’s people? Not by going straight
to the top. David learned to tend God’s sheep by tending literal sheep in the pasture. It may have
looked like menial work to everyone else. But God was shaping David for future service.
I’ve seen this pattern so often that I’m tempted to call it a rule: When God chooses someone, he
sends them through a time of monotonous faithfulness in which they have to show whether
they’ll be faithful in small things. The big things may come later. But the small faithfulness is
God’s first assignment.
So if you believe God has chosen you for some special assignment, be ready for the pasture.
Know that it’s coming. Expect it. Own it. Your pasture, your wilderness, is God’s laboratory for
forming that heart he wants in you.
To be like David, a person after God’s own heart, God has to prepare you as he prepared David.
When Saul, David’s predecessor, is introduced in the Old Testament, we meet him as he is on the
search for his father’s lost donkeys. This isn’t an accidental detail: Saul was, from the beginning, a
failed shepherd (or, I guess, donkey-herder?).
But David? We first meet him tending his sheep, even when someone of prominence was at his
home. He was a faithful shepherd, following the rule of pasture time: Faithfulness in the small
produces power in the big.
God took David from the pasture and made him king. David’s job—a shepherd—didn’t change.
Only his flock did.
Granted, for most of us, the assignment we receive will pale in scope relative to David’s. I don’t
know anyone who has been promised a literal throne and a literal kingdom. But the principle
stands: When God chooses someone for a special assignment, the first step is nearly always
small, monotonous, mundane. He starts in the pasture.
So be faithful and intentional in your pasture. God cultivated David’s heart through long periods
of silence, solitude, reflection, and prayer. David prioritized his relationship with God, not
despising the small things of each day.
That’s why your obedience, your faithfulness, and your purity matters today. And tomorrow. And
every day after that. It’s a litmus test for your obedience, your faithfulness, and your purity later.
Don’t despise your pasture. God is there. God is working—not just on your future, but more
importantly, on you.