How bad do you need to be for history to classify you as a scoundrel? Paul Martin, in a Huffington Post article, cites some of the worst historical scoundrels like Daniel Drew, the Fox sisters, and Hetty Green. These folks, and others like them, lived unscrupulously at the expense of others.
Now, how bad do you need to be for the Bible to identify you as a scoundrel? That’s a whole new level. But that’s exactly how Phinehas and Hophni are described (1Samuel 2). They consistently robbed people; slept with whoever they wanted; disregarded authority; and ignored God. Their story may not raise many eyebrows until you know that these two men were leaders. They were part of a family that had been committed to serving God and God’s people. But nothing they did reflected their position as leaders.
Leadership is hard. If you lead, you get this. As a country we’re tough on our leaders – from the government to the church and everywhere in between. We certainly expect our leaders to be people of character and integrity, and we should. But we also have the propensity to knock leaders down. We want them to be the best, but we quickly look for their flaws and cheer when those flaws are well known. Leadership is not for the faint of heart.
And that’s precisely why those who are leaders – especially spiritual leaders – need to pay attention to the details. While Hophni and Phinehas were disregarding their character and position, God was raising up another leader to replace them. Samuel was still a young boy but God was shaping him into the kind of leader both God and the people needed. God gives us a hint of the kind of leader Samuel could be – “those who honor me I will honor but those who despise me I will disdain…I will raise up a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind” (1Samuel 2:30-35).
When it comes to spiritual leadership God looks for a particular kind of person – one that wants what God wants. Wanting what God wants has a way of shaping our character and increasing our integrity. When temptations challenge our moral fiber, leaders after God’s heart trust God’s strength. When moral failure happens, leaders after God’s own heart seek forgiveness and restoration. Spiritual leaders don’t ignore or dismiss their actions they come to terms with the call and grace of God. God raised up Samuel to do what was on God’s heart and mind.
Whether you are a Christian leader at work, in your home, with you kids, or at your church – God is inviting you to do what is on his heart and mind. Phinehas and Hophni reveal the destruction unsurrendered leadership creates. Don’t be a scoundrel! Seek the heart and mind of God, surrender yourself to God’s purposes and lead well.