What does God see in me?

As much as things have changed in our society with more women, minorities, and young, hipster-style tech leaders moving into top positions at companies…we also haven’t changed. There seems to be something hardwired into us that looks to the outward appearance of someone, and decides what kind of person they are. And we, as Americans, have a certain type when it comes to leaders…regardless of their actual ability.

Malcom Gladwell, in researching his book Blink, found that 30% of CEOs at fortune 500 companies are 6ft2in or taller while only 3.9% of the entire American population is that tall.

Another study found that people have to “sound right” in order to be taken seriously and seen as respectable: They found that people responded more positively if the speaker’s voice was deep and smooth…and that actual content of the speech only accounted for 11% of the response. What this means is that people are less moved by the content of a speech than they are by the sound of the voice. In fact, out of 792 male CEOs, the study found those with the deepest voices made almost $200,000 more a year than all the other CEOs.

When looking for leaders, the study also found that negative stereotypes played into the choosing and following of a leader: overweight leaders were judged incapable of controlling themselves; especially if they were women. And “Uptalk”…this is when someone ends their sentences on a high note…we seen as tentative and juvenile.

The Economist boiled it down to this:

The typical chief executive is more than six feet tall, has a deep voice, a good posture, a touch of grey in his thick, lustrous hair and, for his age, a fit body. Bosses spread themselves out behind their large desks. They stand tall when talking to subordinates. Their conversation is laden with prestige pauses and declarative statements.

Leaders look, act, and talk like leaders and people follow them whether or not they are good leaders. And study after study demonstrates people choose their leaders, for the large part, based not on all the high things they say they do, but because that person looks like a leader.

When Israel started demanding a King, after receiving the go ahead from God, Samuel started looking…when he found Saul he knew he had found the man that would satisfy Israel’s desire for a King!

1 Samuel 9:1-2

There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. 2 Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else.

Saul fit the qualifications required of a king…tall, strong, commanding presence…he immediately went out and defeated his enemy in battle…this was their man. Except, if you have read the rest of 1 Samuel, you learn he wasn’t the right man for the job. While he looked like a king and even acted like any other king of the time, Saul was a man who refused to listen to God, allowed his low self-esteem and self-doubt to get in the way, and refused to deal with his character issues…and then blamed other people around him.

So God rejected Saul as king.

1 Samuel 13:14

But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

God was looking for something different. He was looking for a man “after his own heart.”

And God saw that new king in one of Jesse’s sons…

1 Samuel 16:1-13

1The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”

2 But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

The Lord said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”

4 Samuel did what the Lord said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?”

5 Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

6 When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.”

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

8 Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” 9 Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”

12 So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.

Then the Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

13 So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.

Saul is rejected as King of Israel, and God has found his replacement…it was not going to be immediate. In fact, it will take another 15 or so years before David becomes King of Israel. But Samuel recognizes the possibility of a bad reaction from Saul. Samuel is following the direct orders of God, but Saul could easily have him killed.

God is sending because he “sees” the new king in Jesse’s son. The word is translated as “chosen” but the root of the word is that God sees Israel’s next King…the reality is that no one else sees a king…especially in David, the son Samuel anoints as the next king of Israel.

In fact, Samuel doesn’t even see David…he has his mind made up immediately upon meeting Eliab,

7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

While Samuel looked at the outward appearance, and fell into the same trap that made Saul King of Israel, God was looking at something different.

God sees something in us others cannot see…

When I was growing up we used to sing a song in children’s church that said, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see. Be careful little eyes what you see. For the Father up above is looking down with love; oh be careful little eyes what you see.”

I don’t know about you, but the part about a loving Father doesn’t take away from the guilt inducing part about being watched…like God is looking at us, waiting for us to do something wrong. Many of us grew up in a church that emphasized the guilt and might have caused us to see God as a celestial policeman looking for our faults.

It is true, though, God sees us our sinfulness. 

Jeremiah 16:17 says,

My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from me, nor is their sin concealed from my eyes.

And while God is talking specifically about the Babylonians and Assyrians, we know that God is not ignorant of the sins you and I commit. In 2 Samuel, God will see the adulterous affair and the murderous plot David tries to hide, but can’t hide from God.

God sees our sins…the part where we differ from the childhood song and from the guilt and cosmic police office image we have is that God’s desire is not to catch us in sin, but to free us from that sin. He wants us to understand the damage it does…its pervasiveness in our lives…how it separates us from Him, but the purpose in all of that is so we confess it and return to Him.

Romans 5:8 says,

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God is the God of Forgiveness…the God of Love who is seeking to restore us to relationship with Him…so when He sees our sin…it is not for the purpose of guilt, shame, or punishment, but to forgive and restore us through His son Jesus Christ!

God sees our sinfulness in order to forgive it, but also,

God sees our potential. 

God saw a young boy, tending his father’s sheep, working hard to take care of his family…a young boy who sat in the field for hours reflecting and meditating on Scripture, singing and writing songs and prayers of praise to His God…and God saw that this young boy had the making of the kind of King he desired.

We see this same action of calling our potential when it comes to the Apostle Peter…the impetuous, quick acting, mouthy disciple who eventually became the leader of the Church. The man who one minute cut off a servants ear and the next fled in fear for his life to hide…became the man who bravely faced his own crucifixion…upside down.

Paul, the murderous Pharisee who became the great intellect and primary writer of our Scriptures.

Esther the beauty queen who became the means of saving her people.

Priscilla and Aquila, the tentmakers who became the teachers and pastors of church and church leaders.

The list goes on and on of people who started as one thing, defined by their worlds, the people around them, the situation they were part of…who God saw in them much more than anyone else ever could…and He called that potential out of them and used them to do great things in our world

God sees something in you and I that people around us can not or will not see, and sometimes ignore.

In fact, one of the hardest part of our spiritual growth is moving from what others think about who we are and what we can contribute…to who God says we are and what we are called to do. As you spend time in Scripture and in God’s presence…one of the biggest works HE has to do in you is push you to see yourself not through the eyes of everyone else, but through His eyes…

That also means that

God sees something in us even we can’t see…

David comes in from the fields, and immediately God says to Samuel…This is one!

I don’t know about you, but as David’s family, I’m sure I would have found it a bit odd…David is the youngest and smallest of the boys. Even the writer does a cool thing to emphasize how unlikely David is…Samuel sees seven sons of Jesse…7 is the number of perfection…Jewish readers would have expected David to be the seventh son, but he wasn’t…according to the story, David is the 8th son…outside of the expected perfect number.

And while those around him didn’t see him as king…I’m sure, if David is like the rest of us, he probably wasn’t completely sold on it either.

Why me? I’m the youngest? Look at these brothers of mine…stronger, older…why not them? I’m just a shepherd.

Do those thoughts and excuses sound familiar? How many times have you heard that you are the beloved of God? That you are infinitely valued and loved by our creator…that God has made you for His purpose and has a plan for you…and yet, the tape you play in your head sounds amazingly similar to the voices of those who don’t see what God sees in you…those who have rejected you…those who have pushed you aside and made you feel “less than.”

And after so many times, you have begun playing those tapes yourself.

You mess up, and the tape starts playing, “How could you be so stupid? There you go again!”

Someone rejects you and the tape starts playing, “See! You have to hide your true self from those around you because they will reject you!”

You have your own tapes you play.

And it doesn’t just have to be negative…sometimes we have opinions and views of ourselves that while not negative are reality…ego and pride get in the way just as low self-esteem and personal doubt. They are two sides of the same coin of Self-Rejection. We reject who we are and what God says about us so we swing one direction and become arrogant and prideful or we swing the other and are filled with self-doubt and hatred.

I said just a minute ago that one of the hardest parts of our spiritual growth is moving from what others think about who we are and what we can contribute…to who God says we are and what we are called to do…But I think THE hardest part is moving from how we see ourselves to  how God sees us.

One of the biggest works of the Grace of God in our lives is moving from the pendulum swing of pride on one side or low self-esteem on the other to a confidence and restfulness in who God created us and calls us to be.

There is a tension that must be held as we take all this in…God sees our sinfulness and desires to change it…so God isn’t someone who sugar coats or ignores the issues in our lives that His grace and forgiveness needs to address…but neither is God the angry avenger in the sky looking to catch us in the act and bring judgment down on us.

When we are followers of Jesus…the world doesn’t define who we are anymore…it doesn’t get to…our family heritage doesn’t define who we are anymore…our internal issues don’t define who we are anymore…

You are loved.

You are forgiven.

You God’s child; and an heir of His Kingdom.

You are part of His family.

You the earthly temple where God resides.

You are a new creation.

You are valuable.


Once we realize we are loved…we are forgiven…there is still one more thing…and this isn’t a salvation issue, just a difference of focus…See, David wasn’t the only person who was loved and forgiven, but he was the person who was seeking after the heart of God.

God needs people to lead his Kingdom forward…he needs leaders and ministers, not necessarily the professional ones, to lead his church…God is looking for people who pursue His heart and desire to know His will!

As we begin this new year, think about what God might want to do through you? Knowing that God looks deep into your heart, would you be described as someone who is a person after God’s own heart?

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