Lessons from a Mentor’s Downfall #1

While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counselor, to come from Giloh, his hometown. And so the conspiracy gained strength… ~ II Samuel 15:12

READING: II Samuel 15:10-13

The little-known story of Ahithophel, King David’s highly regarded counselor, vividly illustrates three insidious temptations that may particularly ensnare gifted mentors:

1) to foolishly squander our God-given wisdom in support of an unworthy cause;

2) to underestimate the degree to which those we counsel could undermine our integrity; and

3) to evaluate our worth and success by whether or not people take our advice. Let’s examine the first of these temptations.

David’s rebellious son, Absalom, led a massive revolt that rocked the nation of Israel. Absalom almost succeeded, in part because he persuaded David’s personal counselor to defect to his side.

It was a major tactical and psychological triumph for Absalom because Ahithophel’s advice was widely revered “like that of one who inquires of God” (II Sam. 16:23).

What lured Ahithophel away from serving David, the Lord’s anointed? Why did such a smart man do such a dumb thing? Was he just naïve? Was he bored? Did he feel unappreciated?

A mentor’s wisdom is a sacred trust. It was a grievous sin for Ahithophel to bestow that precious gift on Absalom’s poisonous rebellion.

Ahithophel’s story is a cautionary tale for knowledgeable mentors in the church planting community to exercise discernment by vetting the many eager church planters who vie for our long-term help.

Some church plants are nothing but divisive church splits, unworthy of our hard-won sage advice. Some church planters are rebels at heart, modern day Absaloms.

Expertise in church planting is a precious commodity. It should be used to support legitimate church planting efforts that glorify God.

Father, Help me not to be wise in my own eyes. Amen.

Dionne Carpenter

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