Evangelical Essentials

Yesterday's Leader

Beware the habits of moral compromise that steal the approval of God—and the credibility of men and women.

The saddest scenario for any minister is to become yesterday's leader. I am not referring to retirement, to age or being made redundant. I am talking about the lifting of the approval of the Holy Spirit. This is what happened to King Saul, who was always regarded as God's anointed, but lost God's approval.

Observe how quickly the fallen heroes of our time attained success. Most of us do not want to wait for our time to come; we want success and approval now. And that is exactly what Saul got.

Sadly, another hero has fallen. Paul Cain, who was mightily used in the healing revival of the 1950s, and who was given one of the most astonishing prophetic gifts of our time—who is also my friend and became a member of Westminster Chapel under my ministry there—is a fallen man (for more information on this story, see the March 2005 issue of Charisma magazine).

His closest friends were made privy to some melancholy facts and pleaded with him on bended knee over several months to repent. They will be criticized for waiting so long, but they were hoping to spare all of us the knowledge of what they knew, if this man would not only acknowledge his sin but also repent.

It has come to light that Paul has recently agreed to submit to a process of restoration and rehabilitation, but only time will reveal the sincerity of his intentions. I, for one, hope that he carries through. If not, he will have become yesterday's leader.

How does one become yesterday's leader? King Saul did it in eight steps:

1. He put himself above the Word of God. Saul rebelled against Scripture by offering a sacrifice that only a priest should have offered (see 1 Sam. 13:8-9). It has been my observation that nearly every person who falls into sin has put themselves above the Word, making themselves the exception.

2. He took himself too seriously. Position, success and fame went to Saul's head. He thought he should be treated differently. He would not accept criticism, became defensive and excused himself for his conduct. A person craves the limelight, expects everybody to bow and scrape because of his or her gifting--nobody can help them.

3. He felt "compelled" to do what he did (see 1 Sam. 13:12). Many justify themselves by thinking they are led of God--"compelled"--despite what the Scriptures plainly state.

4. He was accountable to nobody. Saul should have been accountable to Samuel, but he would not even listen to the prophet. Fallen heroes are often those who were accountable to no one, and who try to get away with bending the rules, whether with money, sex or power.

5. He was consumed with jealousy and threatened by David's anointing. Killing Goliath gave David great honor, and from that time David was more concerned about the threat of young David than he was the enemy of Israel: the Philistines (see 1 Sam. 18). Those who spend more time casting aspersions on rivals than they do fighting the real enemy (the devil) or seeking the honor that comes from God only, are in danger of becoming yesterday's leader.

6. He lost all sense of integrity. He swore an oath to his son Jonathan that he would not seek David's life but broke his word in hours. Honesty sooner or later is trivialized by those who put themselves above the infallible Word of God.

7. He would repent, and it seemed sincere, but it did not last (see 1 Sam. 24:16; 26:2). Have you noticed how leaders will repent and shed tears so that others will think they are pleasing the Lord? They are described in Hebrews as unable to be renewed again to repentance (see Heb. 6:4-6).

8. He sunk to depths no one would fathom, indulging in the very thing he had once regarded as evil (see 1 Sam. 28:3-7). Saul's gift of prophecy flourished on his way to kill David. It seems that some prominent preachers and even low-profile Christians, despite their sinful conduct, continue to claim God is with them due to the fact that their gifts still flourish.

The gifts and calling of God are "irrevocable" (see Rom. 11:29). That you and I can preach, teach, write, prophesy, speak in tongues or perform miracles is no sign of God's approval.

If anyone who reads this senses conviction, I ask: Has God granted you true repentance? If so, you are not yesterday's leader. Fall on your knees and thank Him that you still hear His voice--unlike Saul who eventually had to admit that God had departed from him.

R.T. Kendall was the pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years. He is the author of numerous books, including Total Forgiveness, The Anointing and The Word and the Spirit. His Web site is www.rtkendallministries.com.

Leaders are readers! Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Ministry Today, Charisma and SpiritLed Woman all for $24. YES - I'm a leader!

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Explorers require significant input.

    How to Receive Clarity When Torn Between Choices

    Decision making is risky without guidance from the Holy Spirit.

  • Lyndon Johnson

    63-Year-Old Law Still 'Threatens' Churches, Pastors

    Read why this law is so dangerous to the kingdom culture.

  • Do you have the proper training to be a soldier in God's army?

    The Training You Need as a Soldier in God's Army

    We are in already in a war. Let us enter the fight as fully trained soldiers with the full armor ...

  • A new path is opening now.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Opening Doors for Kingdom-Minded Businesses

    Find out how to activate this prophetic word of increase in your company.

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Local congregations are called to become Christ-like in their methodology, mission and essence.

    10 Traits of the Jesus-Driven Church

    If we attempt to walk in these, we will leave a powerful imprint on the world around us.

  • Greeter ministry

    5 Common Greeter Mistakes to Correct in the New Year

    Like those involved in any other ministry, greeters can get in a rut.

  • Saddleback Church

    One Clear-Cut Sign Your Church Is Mature and Healthy

    A church's health is measured by its obedience to this important mandate, not by its seating ...

  • Pick me.

    Jesus Picked You

    Leaders make strong efforts to pick their team every day.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders