The Danger of Good Leaders Becoming Proud When They Are Older And Successful

Below is a warning from scripture that should be heeded by all church leadership.  Written by professor/author (he was my Youth Pastor when I was in high school), Jim Hardwicke, this warning should be memorized by all of us in vocational ministry.  I want you to see one thing, in particular:  every leader listed here began by honoring God.  I know a number of pastors who began well but eventually lost their way and are no longer in ministry.  Ministry, like life, is a marathon, not a sprint.  May we, with Paul, be able to one day, say,  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  Yet, apart from consistent humility and healthy accountability this is all but impossible.  Nick

As we age, it’s easy to rely on our past experiences and successes instead of continually relying on the Lord with absolute dependence for everything. Recently, in reading about the kings of ancient Judah I have seen the devastating results of that proud self-reliance:

1) David was a man after God’s own heart, yet when he was older and successful, he became lazy and proud, let down his guard and committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband Uriah murdered (2 Sam 11:1-17). As a result, their infant son died (12:14-23) and Nathan prophesied, “the sword shall never depart from your house . . . Behold, I will raise up evil against you from your own household” (12:10-12). This was fulfilled with Absalom’s treasonous coup of David’s kingdom.

2) Solomon was a man who sought the Lord diligently, yet when he was older and successful, he became proud, took too many wives, and built places of worship for idols (1 Kings 11:1-8). As a result, God raised up enemies against him (11:14-40) and promised to tear away the kingdom from his son (11:9-13).

3) Asa was a good and godly king (2 Chron 15:1-19), but when he was older and successful, he became proud and relied upon an alliance with a pagan king instead upon the Lord (16:1-6). As a result, from then on he had wars (16:7-9). When Hanani the seer prophesied about this, Asa got angry and put him in prison (16:10). When Asa got a disease of his feet, he did not seek the Lord, but the physicians (16:12). As a result, he died (16:13).

4) Jehoshaphat was a godly king (2 Chron 17:1-18:1). But when he was older and successful, he proudly made a forbidden alliance with the king of Israel (19:1-2) and as a result, almost lost his life (18:2-34). He returned to depending upon God with all his heart (20:12) and God miraculously delivered him (20:20-34). However, again when he was older and successful, he allied himself with Israel again in a business deal (20:1-2) and as a result, God destroyed his ships (20:37).

5) Joash became king at age seven, and under the high priest Jehoiada’s leadership, was a good and godly ruler (2 Chron 23:124:16). But after Jehoiada died, and he was successful, he evidently became proud and led his nation to worship idols again (24:17-19). And when God spoke through Zechariah to rebuke him, Joash had him “stoned to death in the court of the house of the Lord” (24:21), murdering the son of the man who had been like a father to him (24:22). As a result, God sent the army of the Arameans against Judah and they “destroyed all the officials of the people from among the people, and sent all their spoil to the king of Damascus” (24:23). “Indeed the army of the Arameans came with a small number of men; yet the Lord delivered a very great army into their hands, because they had forsaken the Lord, the God of their fathers. Thus they executed judgment on Joash” (24:24). The Arameans left Joash “very sick” and his own servants murdered him on his bed (24:25).

6) Amaziah was a good king, but after he was successful in defeating the sons of Seir, he set up their idols and worshiped them (2 Chron 25:1-14). He was so proud, he decided to go to war with the king of Israel (25:17). The king of Israel recognized that his motive was pride saying, “You said, ‘Behold, you have defeated Edom.’ And your heart has become proud in boasting. Now stay at home, for why should you provoke trouble so that you, even you, would fall and Judah with you?” (25:19). But Amaziah wouldn’t listen and as a result, faced a great defeat (25:20-28).

7) Uzziah was a good king (2 Chronicles 26:4-5). As a result, God blessed him and he became very successful (26:6-15). “Hence his fame spread afar, for he was marvelously helped until he was strong. But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the Lord his God” (26:16). As a result of his unfaithfulness, he became a leper to the day of his death (26:16-23).

We could go on, there are other examples. If like us you are getting older and have seen God’s blessings in the past, now is not the time to let down your guard and coast. We are ripe for our greatest failures and resulting consequences at this very time of life. May God help us to walk humbly with Him to the very last day of our lives.  Jim