Perfect Form/Imperfect Soul

Feb. 16, 2013 | by Hal West

It is a masterpiece, transcending time and culture and changing techniques and tastes in art. It has an intriguing history and unique contribution to the world of visual arts. 

Michelangelo began his work on David when he was only 25 years old. He was given a huge block of marble that had been first provided to another sculptor decades earlier, but soon abandoned. He completed his work three years later. It stands 17 feet tall, and was placed in a public plaza to symbolize the courage and strength of the city of Florence, which was much like a David facing Goliath in those days of fierce political rivalry between Italian city-states.

It was believed that sculpture was the highest art form because it paralleled divine creation. The sculptural form is found within the block of stone just as the human soul is found within the physical body. 

David stands on a pedestal, exposed in detail, a picture perfect form of the male human body, portraying the young shepherd, his sling across his left shoulder, his head turned and eyes fixed intently on his mission to slay the giant enemy.

To look at David - the sculpture - is to look at physical perfection: young, handsome, muscular, lean, and masterfully proportioned. To look at David – the man, the shepherd, the servant of God, the king – is to look at a flawed soul. The Scripture exposes the inner man and reveals the truth about him. 

The Scripture reveals the truth about all of us. As much as we try to perfect our form and leadership image, we are flawed at our core inner being, that part of being human that is only seen by the Creator. And while form, style, and image are visibly important, the inner man is the thing we must devote most attention to as leaders. 

David at his core was a man after God’s own heart. His heart was set on God above all else, and, yet, as one conceived in sin and sinful from his birth, he was a flawed man and leader. There is so much to admire and learn from David’s form and leadership style, but perhaps it is how he dealt with his inner imperfection that we can learn the most about both spirituality and leadership.     

  •  He didn’t allow his calling to be corrupted by a sense of self-importance, like his predecessor.
  •  He recognized and acknowledged that he was flawed.
  •  He quickly confessed his sins.
  •  He listened to godly counsel.
  •  He grew from his failures.
  •  He was a man of prayer and worship.
  •  He knew in his heart that he was only a part of a bigger plan in God’s redemptive purposes.

These are some of the inner qualities of a flawed leader and how he sustained his reign of 40 years. These are the character traits that make David an enduring model of spiritual leadership, and why he still stands tall to everyone who is called to roles of leadership and aspires to longevity in ministry.  


Topics: Leadership

Hal West / Hal West spent 33 years as a pastor with an emphasis on creating effective change and transition in a traditional church setting. He is the President of Compass Coach and Consulting ( whose mission is to assist pastors and churches find the road to success. He has authored 3 books. His latest is The Pickled Priest and the Perishing Parish: Boomer Pastors Bouncing Back (CrossBooks Publishing, 2011)

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