Back in the day, when we solved math problems teachers said: “show your work” and there were penalties if you didn’t…even if the answer was correct. It wasn’t that the teachers were mean. They were just more interested in being sure I knew the correct process than me proving how smart I might be. Showing your work with a wrong also meant the teacher could easily correct the error in your thinking, which is impossible with only an answer. Most importantly, a good grasp on the process would help me more as the problems became harder.
Today, there’s an emphasis on accomplishing things quickly. How isn’t as important as how fast. And though many are much smarter than in years past, unless we are knowledgeable or creative about processes, are we wiser?
In the Bible, before David was ever a king, he was a shepherd. And as a shepherd, he employed a process. Part of the responsibility of a shepherd was to be sure the sheep had ample grazing, were protected from predators and anything poisonous, and didn’t go astray. When David arrives on the scene to deliver rations to his brothers in 1 Samuel 17, he hears Goliath rumbling threats. When no one else had any confidence in him, David knew he had a process to address predators. In verse 34 he begins offering his battle resumé to prove himself worthy to address Israel’s tormentor. That was David showing his work. He eventually became king, but first, he was a faithful shepherd and a warrior who worshipped God.
What qualifies you for your purpose? Are you able to look back on what you’ve done in recent years and “show your work” to prove you have what it takes? Let’s see how some shepherd responsibilities might translate into qualifications for you to be a royal warrior:
- Provide ample grazing.
David had to be sure the sheep had enough healthy grass for grazing and had to move the flock around so he didn’t overuse one area. As a parent or guardian, is one of your skills balancing input so kids have enough activities (and food!) to fill their time in enriching ways and still have fun without getting stressed or bored? Enough said (whether or not the kids are yours)!
- Protect from poison and predators.
There are two ways to keep predators at bay: train ‘sheep’ how to navigate temptation and carry a big stick! Seriously, training someone immature to avoid temptation is a needed skill, because it can deter predators before they get close enough to do any damage. Whether you repeat yourself a hundred times, or keep watch, praying all night long, your vigilance prevents disasters (or lessons their blows) which makes you a good shepherd!
- Prevent from going astray.
This is a combination of the two above and probably the hardest of all. Leaders are tasked with keeping those under their charge from going astray. Striking a healthy balance between affirmation and correction, as well as direction and control take time and wisdom.
Can we truly take credit for these successes? No. And David didn’t either. Part of showing our work is maintaining a worship lifestyle aimed toward the One who is our strength, teaching our hands to war and our fingers to fight. (Psalm 144:1) David didn’t have advance notice of the battle, but his experience is a great example of ‘when you stay ready, you won’t have to get ready!’ Are you ready to show your work?