What King David Can Teach You About Being a Great CEO

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The extent of King David's fame and infamy is utterly amazing. There are people who know the story of David and Goliath and do not know it comes from the Bible. To be sure, David killed a giant. In a more profound way, David was a giant. His was a huge and complex life filled with incredible and often desperate vicissitudes.

In my newest book, David the Great (Charisma House), I wanted to pull back the curtain on lesser-known aspects of this multifaceted and deeply conflicted genius. I had to explore his shocking sins. One cannot consider David's giant of a life and not face his giant sins, but many do not realize adultery was not his most destructive failure.

Likewise, there are aspects of David's genius that are largely unappreciated even by many dedicated Bible readers. David was a general, a king, a politician and a musician. David was also a master manager. I hope you are intrigued by his modern fundraising techniques, his planning and his grasp of corporate and bureaucratic re-engineering.

One aspect of David's leadership I have never heard mentioned is his humility with regard to the temple. David raised the money, paid for the architectural plans and assembled the building materials, knowing someone else would get the credit. David knew the temple would be forever called Solomon's temple, not David's temple. A leader willing to do the work, lay the groundwork, raise the money and let his successor's name go on the sign is a leader worth studying.

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The following is an excerpt—"David: CEO"—from David the Great:

In all that has been taught and written about David, his considerable management skills are seldom mentioned. From a militia of farm boys and 600 grim guerillas, he forged a phenomenally successful national army and made a nation out of disparate and sometimes warring tribes.

First Chronicles 22-29 gives us a look at David, the great CEO. Nearing the end of an astonishing career, at a time when many executives are ready to hang up their cleats and spend their last years in leisure, David prepares the nation for his passing.

While these chapters make for some pretty tedious reading, they show an executive David selflessly dedicating his rapidly fading strength to the transition ahead.

He prepared for the construction of the temple. Though God has not allowed him to build it himself, he assembled the necessary material for construction.

He carefully went over the blueprints with Solomon in great detail and surrendered the project and all the vast material he had accumulated. Surely he knew that neither history nor the Bible would give him credit. The temple would never be called David's temple. It was to be Solomon's temple, and David knew that.

He also demonstrated his remarkable fundraising ability. He raised a phenomenal amount for the temple with astonishingly modern professionalism. First of all, he gave a clear inventory of what the government had already purchased. It is easier to raise money if you're not starting from scratch. He listed gold, silver, bronze, iron, precious stones of all kinds and marble, which he had assembled with state funds.

Then he led the way with personal generosity. May I say incredible generosity? He announced he was giving 3,000 talents of gold and 7,000 talents of refined silver. Those who claim to know such things say that this amounted to about $10 billion. It could have been a great deal less than $10 billion and still have been a fortune that David gave personally.

Next, he called on the leaders to lead. His own generosity set the pace, and they stepped up to the plate, big time.

Seeing that the government, the king and the leaders had done their part, the people gave "willingly and with great joy." One estimation puts the total cost of the temple at $56 billion. That's what I call a capital campaign!

He carefully restructured the artistic, religious and financial communities. He established the organization of musicians (never easy to organize), the priests and even the gatekeepers.

He also set accountants in place for the national treasure and set up managers for state-run businesses. He made sure capable overseers were in place to run the nation's considerable agricultural businesses. He even restructured the tribal councils. Last of all, he set up a cabinet, advisory council and national security teams to assist his successor.

None of this is as exciting as slaying giants or defeating vast Philistine armies, but it reveals an underreported and undervalued aspect of David's genius. David the Great was not just a charismatic visionary. He was a manager par excellence.

Listen as Dr. Mark Rutland discusses the complex character of King David, a man after God's own heart.

Dr. Mark Rutland is president of both Global Servants and the National Institute of Christian Leadership. A renowned communicator and New York Times best-selling author, he has more than 30 years of experience in organizational leadership, having served as a senior pastor and a university president.

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