By Michael E. Brooks
“Now these were the heads of the mighty men whom David had, who strengthened themselves with him in his kingdom, with all Israel, to make him king, according to the word of the Lord concerning Israel” (1 Chronicles 11:10 NKJV).
Much of our work in foreign countries revolves around selecting and training leaders for the churches in their own lands. It is often said that no organization can surpass its leadership. In order to be successful any church must develop men of courage, faith and skill.
The story of how David progressed from shepherd boy to mighty warrior, and from outcast to king is one of the great tales of all literature, and one of the most exciting narratives in the Bible.
His great success is attributed to God’s favor and help. Yet we are also shown how David’s ability to recruit and inspire courageous and talented soldiers served him well.
The mighty men of David included skilled commanders, faithful assistants, and spectacular gladiators. One of the latter, Benaiah, is said to have killed “2 lion-like heroes of Moab”, apparently in a set battle where he fought both at the same time.
On another occasion he killed a huge Egyptian, more than 7 feet tall. The Egyptian was armed with a spear, while Benaiah had only a staff. Yet again he went into a pit and killed a lion, perhaps with his bare hands (1 Chronicles 11:22-23). With an army led by such valiant men it is not surprising that David won many victories.
The New Testament also describes “mighty men” upon whom the church is to depend. Yet their might is not reckoned in terms of strength, fighting ability or skill with weapons. The qualities which made them great were faith, humility, holiness, and love.
One such great leader was Stephen, described as “a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit” (Acts 6:5), and “full of faith and power” (Acts 6:8). Stephen’s zeal led him to a fatal confrontation with unbelievers, who condemned him to be stoned.
Though his life was brief, his example has encouraged and empowered the Church for almost two thousand years.
Apollos was described as ” an eloquent man, and mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). His strength was not in his physical power, but in his knowledge of God’s word and his ability to proclaim it. Such strength is greatly needed in the church of every age and place.
Barnabas was noteworthy for his ability to comfort and encourage. His generosity with his material possessions inspired others to give liberally (Acts 4:36). His willingness to trust others and take risks on their behalf was instrumental in bringing Saul of Tarsus to the attention of the elders at Jerusalem (Acts 9:26-28).
His persistence in encouraging the former persecutor eventually led him to bring Saul from his home in Tarsus to a vital ministry in Antioch (Acts 11:25-26) and beyond, where Saul ultimately became Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Mighty men continue to be greatly needed among God’s people. We need men of faith, courage and spiritual vision to evangelize lost nations, build vital churches, and train new generations.
We need scholars like Apollos, men of spiritual power like Stephen, and generous encouragers like Barnabas. Let us work to become such leaders, and to encourage others to grow in these graces as well.
By Michael E. Brooks