A leader discerns or interprets the times. A leader is able to chart the course to success because he can interpret or discern the times. Leaders discern the times. That’s how they get their vision and that’s how they lead the team to victory. By discerning / understanding the times, a leader can know which way the storms are coming and know how to steer the team to victory in a world where storms are bound to come.

One of my favorite passages in the OT talks about the leadership team King David assembled to take over leadership of Israel from King Saul. David brought onto his team the people of Issachar who were described as, “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do”. Israel here was the team that David had to lead to victory. He basically brought on board consultants/advisers that were gifted at discerning what the entire organization or team ought to do. David was very good at attracting talented and skillful people to join his team. Effective leaders know that discerning the times and taking skillful action is key to winning.

As the leader of Israel—the person in charge of providing strategic direction for the country—David needed the counsel of these people. The advice and counsel of these people would be key to his success. Wise leaders set the course for their organizations, but they don’t do it alone. They have, as advisors, people who understand the times, who know what the organization ought to do.

One other historical leader who was big on discerning the time and taking the right action was Jesus. One day, he scolded his critics, saying to them:  “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It’s going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It’s going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?”

Today, we have meteorologists who do a very decent job of predicting the weather. They are experts who have studied weather and can do that fairly accurately, not perfectly. Like the critics of Jesus, I think we often limit our abilities to use cues to discern what actions to take only to the realm of weather. We understand it and do it when it comes to weather. But when it comes to other crucial areas of life, we don’t. The truth is that effective leaders know how to study their environment. Like weather experts, they are able to make good forecasts so that they and their teams can prepare for the rain and storms before they hit. Leaders who ignore this suffer when the storms hit them unaware.

Jesus was expecting the people to interpret the times and make a decision that would determine the course of their lives. Leaders have to do this effectively to lead their organizations to victory.