Not long ago, a celebrated Christian leader lost his ministry and his global influence over a moral failure. Unfortunately, that was not an isolated event. Christian leaders falling prey to sin and throwing away their influence for Christ happens more often than we would like to admit. Every time it happens, my heart sinks because the effects are devastating for all of us who claim the name of Christ. I am also reminded that those of us who have influence and leadership are constantly at risk and should be vigilant all the time.
He had a Great Start but Finished Poorly
King Solomon from the Bible was the most prosperous ruler of the ancient nation of Israel. His reign was also the most peaceful in the nation’s history. He started really well too, loving God and “observing all the instructions from his father.” However, at the end of his life, the Bible tells us a different story.
Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done (2 Kings 11:4-6).
What happened? How did he go from loving God to following after foreign gods?
An Insidious Danger
Solomon’s fall from integrity was caused by four things that can happen to any leader. They are like a cancer of the worst type, the insidious kind that only hurts when it is too late. Solomon didn’t wake up one day and say: “I think I will go and worship another god.” It happened slowly over the years, through small steps in the wrong direction. So, how can we learn from Solomon’s failure and make sure we don’t end up like he did?Here are four simple practices that can help us keep our integrity and finish well.
Don’t Ever Stop Learning. Solomon forgot what he had written and became the fool who, at some point, decided he had learned everything. He stated that “there is nothing new under the sun.” With no perceived need for personal growth, Solomon’s character began to fade. Don’t let that happen to you. Read broadly and deeply, study, have an intentional growth plan. Never, ever stop learning!
Always Be Accountable. Solomon began fully devoted to the Lord, but as he grew older, “his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord.” Did you know that to be “90% faithful” is to be 100% unfaithful? The antidote is accountability, that is, to have someone who can openly confront us over our convictions and our character.
Remember Your Legacy. Solomon’s great achievements were a temple and a palace. Neither building stands today. By contrast, Jesus invested in a small group of people who went on to change the world. The best investment we can make of our lives is to develop other people, discipling, coaching, and mentoring them to exercise intentional influence for meaningful change.
Treasure Your Relationship with God. In the end, in the midst of unthinkable riches, the old King’s “heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice.”
Solomon’s story has a terrible ending. After his death, two of his sons fought for the kingdom and ended up dividing the nation. Israel was never to be a united nation again.
Our story can have a very different one, like many leaders who lived a full life and finished well. We can position ourselves to finish well by committing to lifelong learning, accountability, developing others, and to our intimate relationship with God.