Ending Well


In 2 Chronicles I recently read an overview of the reign of Solomon as King of Israel.

The author of Chronicles did an excellent job of describing the splendor of Solomon’s reign. The phrase “The king made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 9:27) makes this point. By any standard, the wealth, wisdom, and splendor of Solomon were amazing.

But I am reminded from the book of 1 Kings that Solomon didn’t end well. Solomon ended his reign in idolatry and moral compromise.

Unfortunately, this is a story that we’ve seen played out repeatedly through church history. A man or ministry starts out well but ends up in a mess. Even in my lifetime there have been too many examples of pastors or ministries ending in disgrace despite having begun so well.

It appears to me that the slide downward often begins when the minister or ministry begins taking responsibility for the success of the “mission.” As a result, the focus is shifted to the personality of the leader or the methods he employs.

The antidote to this is to be constantly reminded that the growth of the church, the success of the mission, is not dependent upon the minister. Nor is it dependent upon method or style. The growth of the church is dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit drawing people to Christ.

We would do well to remember that the Apostle Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” to keep him from exalting himself (2 Corinthians 12:7). Paul understood the need for that reminder to keep his importance in proper perspective.

From this, I conclude that the secret that will allow us to end well is to be continuously reminded of our own tendency to go off track. We need a realization of our complete dependence upon God for anything good to come from our labors.

It is only with a sense of dependence upon God and the humility that results from it that we will end well and leave a legacy that brings glory to the only one whose opinion will matter to us in the end.

The stories of failure are at times overwhelming to me because I know that I am no better. I have the same potential to deviate from God’s plan. But then I am comforted by Paul’s promise in Philippians 1:6:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

ESV

God began the work in me and He will complete it. Amen!