Throughout my years in the workforce, I’ve had quite a few different jobs. I really do have the utmost respect and admiration of those who hold the same position for decades with the same company/business. That’s never been me.
Let me expound for a moment. I am not a slacker by any means. In fact, in nearly every job I’ve started, the company has wanted to promote me fairly quickly into a management/lead role. When you are promoted quicker, and over those who have been at the job longer, you have to come to the realization that you are meant for leadership. I don’t say that to brag. I am just confident in what God has placed within me.
For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. – Psalm 76:6-7 KJV
Opportunities have seemed to present themselves to me when things are going good. If I didn’t look at it correctly, I’d get quite frustrated thinking I’d made the wrong decision. It’s easier to leave a job when things are going down the toilet and you are fed up with what you’re doing…but when things are going really well? That’s a whole different story there. It makes a decision to leave really difficult when you have no reason to leave.
Maybe I’ve made the right decisions along the way, and maybe I’ve jumped ship too soon. However I can tell you that I’ve always believed in my heart that I was doing the right thing. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t taken every opportunity that’s come my way, but with each transition I’ve made, I did so with the mind that I was bettering my situation and knowing it would allow me to grow in different areas that I needed growth.
I consider my self to be very blessed when it comes to the leadership positions I’ve been given. The current position is one that I’ve been entrusted with much, by people who had no knowledge of me prior. They sought me out and offered me a job that has given me the freedom to do with the business as I see fit, with little to no interference by the business owners. I still answer to them if need be, but in the end, I really answer to God.
Many times as a leader, I’ve had a different type of opportunity arise. One that didn’t cause me to consider leaving, but rather made me examine my integrity. This type of opportunity always knocked when I did something wrong. It offered me chance to admit my mistakes, make excuses to justify my screw ups, or cover it up out of fear of consequences. I’d love to say I’ve always owned up and admitted what I did wrong, but sad to say, I’ve done all three. I will say that in the years since my encounter with God, I’ve done a much better job of the former, rather than the latter of the three.
Speaking of leaders who make mistakes, the Bible is FULL of them. One in particular that I’d like to touch on is Saul. It either eludes minds, or for whatever reason, we skip over the fact that Saul was given a unique opportunity. He was God’s first choice to rule as King forever.
“And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.” – 1 Samuel 13:13
Did you really catch that? Saul, and his descendants, were meant to rule forever…God’s original plan was not David! This is some very deep stuff to consider. God knew what Saul would do, yet David was second choice. David, as I talked about it in my previous writing, was the only man in scripture to be referred to as being after God’s own heart. But David was God’s second choice? I can speculate all I want and scholars can debate it till the end of the age, but we will truly never know why. In fact, it’s hard to even fathom why. Some will play the “God works in mysterious ways” card, but not me. I hate that card, but that’s for another time. Moving on.
Even though the LORD knew what Saul would do, there are two things God did for Saul that we need to think about. The first thing: God still gave him the opportunity to lead.
God gave Saul the chance to lead. He did so knowing that Saul would do wrong. That should speak volumes for us. There are many people who think that they’ll never get the opportunity that they seek and desire because they think they’ll screw it up so, “God would never give me the opportunity.”
Think about Moses for a moment. God called Moses to lead His people and He did so in a miraculous way that was never seen before and has never been seen again. How did Moses respond? By killing an Egyptian and fleeing out of fear for his life. Yet who ended up leading Israel out of Egypt? Moses.
Think about Jonah. God called Jonah to preach to the people of Nineveh. How did Jonah respond? He jumped on a ship in an attempt to hide. We all know what good that did him. However, in the end, who walked into the city of Nineveh and gave them a word of prophesy? Jonah.
God knew what both of those men would do, yet he gave them the opportunity to lead regardless. How encouraging is that! Just like Saul, God did not withhold anything from them, despite knowing their future mistakes. (I will definitely be talking about that in the future. There’s so much more contained in that truth.)
The second thing we need to consider is: God gave him the opportunity to repent.
God gave Saul the chance to repent. Let’s read what his response was in 1 Samuel 13:11-12:
“…Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that thou camest not within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash; Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the Lord: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering.”– 1 Samuel 13:11-12
Here’s how I can hear Saul saying it in modern terms, “The people were freaking out! You were no where to be found! Something had to be done. You left me with no other choice!” My, oh my. Blame shifting, panic, fear…this from a man that was God’s first choice.
If you continue reading in 1 Samuel 15, it appears as if God is willing to give Saul a second chance. Yet Saul does his own thing once again. He blatantly lies to Samuel in verse 13:”I have performed the commandment of the LORD.”
Liar, liar, pants on fire! He was to “smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.” That sounds pretty harsh, but because Saul did his own thing, Haman (a descendant of Agag the Amelek king) nearly got the opportunity to perform genocide on the entire nation of the Jews. (Read the book of Esther.)
When given the second opportunity to repent, Saul’s response was, “ I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the Lord.” Nothing but more excuses. No sincerity and no real sorrow. How do I know? David would never have been king.
There is no doubt in my mind that if Saul had answered differently from a sincere heart of repentance on either occasion, God would’ve left him on the throne. His mercies and faithfulness didn’t just start in Lamentations, they were there from the beginning. Jeremiah knew it and David experienced it. Saul was extended the same mercy, but rejected it.
One of the most profound things I said to a youth group once (and I had them repeat after me) was, “I suck at being righteous on my own.” Because I do. Because you do. Because Saul did. Isiah referred to self-righteous acts as “filthy rags”. Look it up if you want to know what it means. I can tell you it’s not pretty, but that’s exactly what pride is. It’s exactly what kept Saul from fulfilling his destiny. Don’t let it do the same to you.
So how do you know when you’ve gone too far? I’d say you’re probably safe if you’re even asking that question, but if you really are concerned about it, honestly and truthfully examine what you’re answer would be if you were in Saul’s shoes. Would your answer be one of real sorrow and from a desire to do the right thing? Or would you apologize just to get out of trouble, thinking that you were never wrong from the beginning?
Saul allowed something to dictate his actions. He allowed something to rule his life. Saul let one thing take precedence over a lifelong opportunity. That one thing was pride.
Pride has the ability to do irreparable damage. Pride is associated with the devil. Pride is probably the only thing that will keep you from fulfilling God’s call for your life. Pride will deafen you to the sound of opportunity knocking.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23 – ESV
I’ll say it again: If you have a sincere desire to please God, regardless of where you are in life and despite the mistakes you’ve made or are currently making, you are not too far gone. The humble will never cease to hear opportunity when it knocks.