I follow a one-year Bible plan on my smartphone app so that I can read the Bible once every year. Currently, I’m reading through the book of Samuel, and the contrast between two main characters, King Saul and King David, has been very beneficial for me.
It is easy to start well. Everyone is passionate and excited when a new chapter begins: New school, new job, new relationship, new opportunity, new church, and new gym can all make us pumped up. But it is not easy to continue once the novelty wears off.
King Saul is an excellent example of someone who started well but ended badly. Samuel records that Saul was tall and handsome, and even humble at first. Everyone liked him as the first King of Israel. But it didn’t take too long for him to go against God’s advice and ended his life full of jealousy and hatred toward David who only did good things for him.
On the other hand, King David is an excellent example of someone whose start wasn’t great but ended very well. When he was anointed as a king, he was a shepherd boy (dirty, insignificant job back then) then spent the majority of his young adult life escaping from Saul. Even after he became the King of Israel, his life was a series of betrayal, moral failure and civil war. But it is recorded in the 1 Chronicles that David “died at a good old age, full of days, riches, and honour”.
After contrasting their life, it wasn’t difficult to find out why. King Saul used God for his ambition. On the other hand, King David pursued God as his ultimate goal. As a young pastor, I used to look up to pastors who have built big churches. However, as I get older, I’m beginning to appreciate pastors who have ended their ministry well regardless of the size of their churches. I have seen too many thriving pastors and leaders crash and burn far too early. I sometimes get scared because I know that can happen to me anytime also.
Many church leaders who ended well seem to have this in common: They were more focused on discovering God’s intention than advancing their intention. As all pastors do, I also find myself time to time tempted to use God to advance my ministry. But I’m thankful that there are great mentors and leaders around me who continuously remind me that I exist to promote God’s ministry. I think “worry” is the most apparent symptom of trying to use God. It is because once I stop trying to use God, peace follows, and I become surer that he will help me finish my life well.