David was ‘on a roll’. He kept winning battle after battle. He had a golden touch. But success can go to your head, and David wasn’t exempt. He started wondering, ‘Just how strong are we?’ At that point, he conducted a census and discovered he had ‘one million one hundred thousand [fighting] men.’ (1 Chronicles 21:5 NIV) That could tempt any of us to think, ‘With an army this size, and a track record of success, who needs to pray for God’s help or ask Him for a plan?’ That was the point at which God stepped in and judged David, and seventy thousand Israelites died needlessly (see 1 Chronicles 21:14).
So here is another aspect of leadership you need to be aware of: your mistakes have the potential to hurt others. You’re not just accountable to those who are over you; you’re responsible for those under you. After all, if your good decisions have the ability to bless and guide people, your bad decisions have the potential to harm them. ‘David said to God, “Was it not I who ordered the fighting men to be counted? I, the shepherd, have sinned and done wrong… let Your hand fall on me and my family, but do not let this plague remain on Your people.”’ (1 Chronicles 21:17 NIV)
God graciously answered David’s prayer, and judgment was lifted from Israel. So, you need God’s guidance for your own sake, the sake of the people around you, and to give you the grace to accept responsibility when you fail. Don’t try to hide your failures, blame others, or run from God. Acknowledge them, grow through them, and go on to become wiser.