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Affluent Christian Investor | September 21, 2017

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Leadership Lessons from Solomon’s Failure

The Visit of the Queen of Sheba to King Solomon, oil on canvas painting by Edward Poynter, 1890

The last several weeks we have looked at the life and call of King Saul, examining it for clues to help you understand some of the challenges to finding and fulfilling your purpose. Last week, we saw how “miraculous” Saul’s appointment was, complete with signs and wonders, but how those supernatural confirmations did nothing to change Saul’s heart, and his lack of development led to a tragic end to a lackluster career. That summary led me to think of another king who started out strong but ended poorly, and it is to his story that I turn this week.


Solomon was another leader whose call was surrounded by the miraculous and prophetic confirmation. When the throne almost slipped from David’s control to another son, God intervened to ensure that David’s promise to Bathsheba was fulfilled. Then we have the story in 1 Kings 3 of Solomon’s dream and request for wisdom. God was so impressed by Solomon’s request that He agreed to give him wisdom, along with riches and victory over his enemies, things for which most young kings would have asked. What immediately followed was the encounter with the two women, each claiming that a baby boy belonged to them, and Solomon’s edict to cut the boy in two, which revealed the real mother’s heart.

All that caused the people to hold Solomon in high esteem, which enabled him to embark on an ambitious building program made possible by the peace Solomon enjoyed on all his borders. Yet through all the confirmation, the miraculous acts, interventions, and prophetic involvement, Solomon sent a mixed message and that mixed message led to his downfall and the eventual ruin of his father’s throne and Solmon’s legacy.


We are told by Solomon’s historian that Solomon loved the Lord: “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places” (1 Kings 3:3). He burned incense in the high places because the Temple had not yet been built. That is not an indication of Solomon’s problem. The real problem was mentioned two verses earlier: “Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter” (1 Kings 3:1). 

A guided missile that is just one degree off at take off does not appear to be off course. No one can detect the problem, but the longer the missile stays in the air, the more of course the missile will become. That is what happened to Solomon, for later we read

He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord; he did not follow the Lord completely, as David his father had done (1 Kings 11:3-6).

Oh yes, and along the way, Solomon ignored the Lord’s edict not to enslave His people by forcing them to labor on his building projects so that this complaint of the next generation was found in Jeroboam’s words: “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you” (1 Kings 12:4).


What’s the lesson for you and me? First, be careful not to rely too much on the confirmation the Lord has provided for you to know His will for your life. While that confirmation is important, it cannot be the basis for your success. It is only the launching pad. From there, you must develop yourself and your gifts. Second, don’t ignore your “little” or minor heart problems. I am not talking physical problems, but that could apply as well. Take care to confront your heart issues like greed, fear, lust, and love of power. If you focus on your anointing or the word of the Lord for your confirmation, you may miss the signs along the way that you are off course.

Finally, don’t continue to rely on the supernatural as you grow and go forward. Yes, the supernatural is important but it cannot be a substitute for personal development, accountability, and humility. I have actually discovered that the stronger your initial miraculous confirmation, the more you will need it as God puts you through things that will make it seem like you are light years away from what He promised in His confirmation.

Is your missile on course, or do you need a course adjustment? How do you know for sure? I urge you this week to ask good questions of the Lord and others that will help you see if you are on the right track or wandering off into something that is a little off course that if not corrected, could take you continents away from where God had launched you to go in the first place. Have a blessed week!


Originally published on the Monday Memo from John Stanko.

John Stanko was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and attended Duquesne University where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics in 1972 and 1974 respectively.

Since then, John has served as an administrator, teacher, consultant, author, and pastor in his professional career. He holds a second master’s degree in pastoral ministries, and earned his Doctor of Ministry from Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh in 2011.

John founded a personal and leadership development company, called PurposeQuest, in 2001 and today travels the world to speak, consult and inspire leaders and people everywhere. From 2001-2008, he spent six months a year in Africa and still enjoys visiting and working on that continent, while teaching for Geneva College’s Masters of Organizational Leadership and the Center for Urban Biblical Ministry in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Most recently, John founded Urban Press, a publishing service designed to tell stories of the city, from the city and to the city.


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