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The Goliath in All of Us By Dr. Rob McKenna

Are you more like Goliath than David?

A champion named Goliath, who was from Gath, came out of the Philistine camp. He was over nine feet tall. He had a bronze helmet on his head and wore a coat of scale armor of bronze weighing five thousand shekels; on his legs, he wore bronze greaves, and a bronze javelin was slung on his back. His spear shaft was like a weaver’s rod, and its iron point weighed six hundred shekels. His shield bearer went ahead of him.

1 Samuel 17:4-7

The story of David and Goliath has revisited me several times in recent years because I am the father of two boys. Goliath is a beast of a man, an evil adversary to our hero David. He is the giant to be slain, leading us down a path to greatness. Small boys relate to this story. In David, they can see the possibility of slaying the giants around them and becoming heroes, even though they are just boys in a world of men. 

Which Are You?

While David is the apparent role model because he defeated the giant and stands for the hero in all of us, Goliath may represent more in you if you have seen success and value it deeply. Successful leaders don’t often look or act like shepherd boys. Successful leaders look and act like giants among us. They wield incredible power and surround themselves with all the resources to protect their leadership and the people to make their leadership possible.

They also have prominent voices that challenge all competitors to compete with them and tell followers to respect and fear them. Strength and conviction replace humility, authentic fear and doubt, and childlike ignorance of our vulnerability.

A Lesson to Learn

The story of David and Goliath is an unlikely lesson for us. If you are a successful leader, there is little doubt that the Goliath in you is there. Even if you aren’t a Goliath leader, be aware of how you cheer on the Goliaths around you and miss out on the Davids. You don’t get invited to serve on influential boards for most organizations or churches unless you have been a successful leader, have a big name, or wield a big pocketbook. You won’t get pursued by headhunters for senior leadership roles unless you have made a great deal of money for your organization. You won’t be invited to be a keynote speaker unless you have made it somehow. In rare cases where we can see the measurable difference in outcomes, sacrificial leaders are lifted, but they are rare cases. 

Organizations breed success and protect it once they have it. It’s human to do so. That said, success is not inherently wrong. We need people with the courage of Goliath. A track record of goal achievement isn’t a bad thing. The problem is that a track record of success often gives you so much to carry and protect that there is little time for reflection on why you are leading in the first place. It is interesting to imagine how the story would have finished if Goliath had removed his armor, dropped his spear, told his assistant to go and grab a bite of food, and bowed before David. It would have required an unimaginable awakening in the heart of Goliath and the courage to ignore his success, size, and power long enough to see the real story of God’s power unfolding before him. 

The Great Surrender

Can you imagine yourself surrendering all that you have accomplished for the sake of God’s unfolding plan? Being a manager or executive isn’t about a great title, more money, or more influence. Being a manager, executive, or parent means more responsibility, an understanding that there is more at stake for others, and a willingness to lead for God’s calling to serve Him and love others in serving Him. The pressure in your daily life is often to work toward protecting all you have and for the possibility of having more. Having creates a balancing act in each of us because it isn’t inherently evil or wrong, but it makes more and more to carry and, therefore, more and more to protect. Do you live to protect what you have and have more, or for God’s good and perfect will for your life? That’s an excellent place to start.

If the description of Goliath, his armor, and the support needed to keep him going were replaced with a description of you, how would the description read? And, as you consider what it would take for you to bow before God right now, what possessions would you have to lay down? What are the dreams or aspirations you would have to surrender? Who around you makes you feel like your success should be protected, lifted, and celebrated? What would it take for you to be known as a leader who was always willing to surrender success and affirmation to serve God’s plan for your life?


Dr. Rob McKenna is the CEO and Founder of WiLD Leaders, Inc., Named one of the top 30 I-O Psychologists alive today. Dr. McKenna is passionate about developing leaders and transforming how we see the people in our organizations.

For the Outcomes Conference 2024, Dr. Rob McKenna will lead a WiLD Leader conversation in the noon General Session on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday, He will take senior leaders on a growth journey during the annual CEO Forum.

Now is the perfect time to reserve your seat. You won’t want to miss any of it!



What is Christian Leadership Alliance?

Christian Leadership Alliance equips and unites leaders to transform the world for Christ. We are the leaders of Christ-centered organizations who are dedicated to faithful stewardship for greater kingdom impact.

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