How To Respond When You’re Not The First Pick
Being the first pick is no indication of future success. I’m not a New England Patriots fan, but they are arguably the best NFL football team. (For the record, I’m a Falcons fan.) They have the most successful quarterback in history with Tom Brady winning five Super Bowls. Most people don’t realize it, but Tom Brady wasn’t a first round pick. In fact, he was drafted as the 199th overall pick in the 6th round of the NFL draft. (Yes, you read that right.)
If you feel like you’re not everyone’s first pick, you’re in good company. King David wasn’t the first pick either. In fact, David was picked last. He was the youngest of the eight sons of Jesse. (1 Samuel 16:10-11) He wasn’t even allowed into the same room as his brothers. His own father didn’t think enough of him to invite him to watch his brothers in the line up. According to scripture David was a scrawny little guy that wasn’t much good for anything, except for watching sheep. Even the Prophet Samuel almost made the mistake of picking the wrong guy as the next king:
“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.’” 1 Samuel 16:7
What can we learn from this? God loves the underdog. As I read scripture it quickly becomes apparent that God rarely goes with man’s first pick. He seems to like having the odds stacked against him. It certainly makes for a better story line.
Why does God like the underdog? Because underdogs have to rely more on the Lord than others do. They also have to work harder than those who have natural talents. It also makes for a better story! If you don’t think God likes a good story about underdogs, you probably haven’t read the Old Testament very much. For that matter, even Jesus wasn’t considered a first round pick either. As he began to do miracles the people in his hometown doubted him,
“Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?” Matthew 13:55
Knowing all of this gives me hope because I can certainly relate to King David and to Jesus. I often ask myself how I ended up in some of the places I have been in. I’ve been very blessed to be in some positions not because of something special I have done but because of who Jesus is.
What takeaways can we learn from King David’s life:
Keep playing your own game. When David was anointed king the first thing he did he was head back out to the pasture to keep watching over the sheep. He didn’t gloat about his new position. He waited for the opportunity to prove himself. Actions still speak louder than words. Along the way he learned to kill lions and bears. Lions and bears are set ups for promotions. Learn to kill lions and bears before trying to take on giants.
Don’t get distracted by what others are doing. This is easier said than done, especially in a social media driven world. People seem to put their best stuff on the internet. It’s easy to look at other people and play the comparison game. When you play the comparison game you’ll always end up the loser.
Make the most of every opportunity. When David was asked to deliver groceries to his brothers on the battlefield he saw a prime opportunity to kill a giant. When others saw an obstacle, David saw an opportunity. There are going to be times when God gives you an opportunity to shine where you’re at. When you get the opportunity, don’t be afraid to kill the giant.
Wait for your turn to be called up. We don’t know exactly how old David was when he was first anointed king of Israel. Most scholars believe he was a teenager between the ages of 14-18 years old. Let’s assume he was around the age of 16. We do know he was thirty years old before he actually became the king of Israel. (2 Samuel 5:4) This means he had to wait almost 14 years before he actually became king. David had to learn how to act like a king before he became a king. There’s nothing worse than a leader who doesn’t know how to treat people. David couldn’t skip the preparation phase of his ministry, neither can you afford to.
Develop your gifts while you wait. David not only developed his sling shot skills in the pasture, he also developed his worship skills. Take the time to develop your skills while you wait. Scripture teaches us that our gifts will promote us.
A man’s gift makes room for him, And brings him before great men. Proverbs 18:16
Keep your heart clean. This only happens as you develop a strong relationship with God. When the Lord picked David as the next king of Israel the number one characteristic on His list was a pure heart. It doesn’t mean David was perfect, it did mean he sought God on a continual basis. David learned to worship the Lord when no one knew his name. If you won’t worship when you’re a nobody, you won’t worship when you’re a somebody. If you’ve ever read the book of Psalms, then you’ve read most of David’s journals. David learned to worship while he waited.
If you won’t worship when you’re a nobody, you won’t worship when you’re a somebody.
If you’ve been passed over for something, then you’re ripe for your next. The hardest part about waiting for your next is living in the now. Don’t be tempted to take a short cut. Jesus was offered a short cut by the devil when he was being tempted in the wilderness for forty days. The best thing to do is to wait for the Lord to open a door for you. The only thing worse than waiting is wishing you had.
Question: Which one of these takeaways do you struggle with the most?
I'm a pastor, writer and serial encourager. I like to help people to grow in their relationship with God. I live outside of Atlanta, GA. I've written a book, Stubborn Faith: 30 Day Devotional Guide For New Growth. It's available for download on Amazon. Feel free to follow me on Twitter at @ericspeir