Many men start strong but fail to finish well.
Every person has stories of those men who became derailed overtime. In losing their integrity, their family, or their commitments, many of them have no one to blame for the crash other than themselves for walking dangerously upon the tracks.
Why do men fail to finish well? The graphic story of King Rehoboam’s derailing in 1 Kings 12 shows common threads in the stories of many men. He was the son of King Solomon and the grandson of King David. If anyone should have had the advantage to repeat successes and to reject failures, it was him. But instead of learning from those before him, he actually did worse than them.
Here are 5 steps as to how many men fail along the way:
Ignoring God’s Word (1 Kings 12:1-5)
When his father dies and the throne comes to him, many people in the country want to know what type of leader he will be. Will he be kinder or harsher than his father? As he considers his options, he is never mentioned as seeking what God thinks. At the most pivotal point in Rehoboam’s life, he makes no indication of seeking the LORD. The first step in abandoning God’s way is to ignore His Word. Too many men begin to make significant decisions while starving themselves on God’s Word.
What is my plan for seeking God in His Word?
Mishandling Father’s Legacy (1 Kings 12:4-5)
Most of Rehoboam’s conflict began with the weight of his father’s legacy before him. Rehoboam was unsure how to live regarding the good and the bad of his father’s shadow. To come after the wisest man in the whole world is difficult, but what about the wisest man in the world who also neglected that wisdom later in his life? Rehoboam had daddy issues like every man I’ve ever known. Whether the example was present or absent, positive or negative, every guy is marked significantly by his father’s example. No boy can become a man until he addresses his father’s legacy.
What lessons do I need to learn from my father?
Abandoning Wise Counsel (1 Kings 12:6-8)
Overwhelmed with the potential of his administration, he sought out older, wise men who knew him and who knew his father for advice on how to lead. The men provided him with sound reasoning, and he decided to ignore it altogether. Rehoboam wasn’t ignorant regarding wise direction; he was too stubborn to apply it. The failure to learn from those before us ensures that we will repeat their mistakes. Too many men reject wise counsel from those who have gone before them because pride tells them that are impervious to those same mistakes.
Am I allowing godly influences to invest in my life?
Reflecting Peer Standards (1 Kings 12:9-11)
When his counsel didn’t give him what he wanted to hear, he looked for new counselors. He replaced seasoned leaders with childhood friends. Rehoboam sought favorable advice that would justify his desires. He knew exactly where to go to find the counsel his prideful heart longed to hear. We rarely rise above the standards we place around ourselves. As men, we have to be careful that we are not saturating our lives with poor influences. Don’t water down God’s expectations because of the examples around you. Be careful who you allow to speak into your life.
Can I trust the counsel and example of those closest to me?
Denying Consequential Legacies (1 Kings 14:21-24; 15:1-3)
With Rehoboam’s prideful, ungodly disposition, he led those around him to further disobedience. The unrighteous behavior of Rehoboam significantly lowered the standard for his community and his family. The nation turned into deeper sin. His son behind him became a more prolific sinner. No man leaves a godly legacy by accident. If you want those around you to be godly, what are you doing to work towards that end? Our sons will often become men like us and our daughters will often marry men like us. Are you OK with that reality? Any man who fails to see how his legacy will impact those around him and those behind him is negligent.
Would I desire those around me to repeat my example?
Many men start strong but fail to finish well. This narrative is an example of a man who plunged deeper into sin and lost so much because of it.
Will you not waste his example and allow it to spare you of these 5 steps that will send you into ruin?
Travis Agnew serves as the Lead Pastor of Rocky Creek Church in Greenville, SC. His most recent book is Just (About) Married.