When you were a child, did you ever watch the cartoon of the Road Runner and the Coyote? All of the Coyote’s best laid plots were failures. Even after many expensive Acme purchases, he never caught the Road Runner. Despite his obvious intelligence, the lesson of the Coyote is that he was so caught up in his plans, he was always thwarted by what was right in front of him. Moments before he would catch the Road Runner, he would hit a wall, or he would run out of ground, and fall over a cliff. The smarter his scheme, the less practical, and less filled with common sense.
In life, work, marriage, family, we can fall prey to pitfalls of leadership if we’re not careful. Even our best laid plans can become victimized by our own short-sightedness. Here are five of the most common “cliffhangers” than could derail your life’s most important pursuits, if you are not mindful.
Pride. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” There’s nothing wrong with deep satisfaction and pleasure in your children—pride in your family. But the Bible warns against pride of self that is conceit, egotism, vanity, or personal glory. It leads to a sense of self-worth that is over-valued, inflated and unrealistic. A prideful heart puts the self above all else, including God. And God detests the arrogance of a prideful person. “The eyes of the arrogant will be humbled and human pride brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” (Isaiah 2:11). The solution to pride is humility, an intentional attitude that lifts up God as life’s ultimate objective, and service to others as life’s pleasurable pursuit. Perhaps the first and best advice we could give the Coyote is that life is not all about you.
Greed. The pursuit of money and possessions as a life-goal receives consistent warnings in the Bible. Jesus said in Luke 12:15, ““Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” God warns against greed because it has no end. No amount of money will ever be enough if that is your ambition. While a child grows out of the pursuit of room, food, toys, etc. as they realize they have enough, a greedy person continues in this selfish pursuit, most often at the expense of others. The solution to greed is generosity—sharing with those in need out of the abundance that you have. Generosity arises out of an understanding that your possessions have purpose beyond yourself, and the realization that, as the old saying goes, “you can’t take it with you” when you die.
Laziness. A lack of work ethic is a key contributor to lack of self-sufficiency in life. The Bible confirms God’s desire for men to be hard workers, instructing us to “…work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…” (Colossians 3:23). God’s Word also reminds us that hard work helps to position a person for leadership, while lazy people always seem to end up in the mail room—“The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor” (Proverbs 12:24). The solution to laziness is ambition, the desire to achieve something through determination and hard work. Ambition is the root from which motivation and resolve grow. When ambition grows from a strong spiritual foundation, it can provide a sense of purpose and intention.
Spiritual neglect. Spiritual growth is ultimately about focusing the whole of your life toward pursuits that are eternal and beyond yourself. The solution to spiritual neglect is an abiding relationship with Jesus, where you are consistently praying, studying the Bible, and living out your faith in marriage, family and the workplace. Colossians 2:6-7 says, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Failure to continuing growing in Christ creates an individual without a strong root structure, making you more likely to fail spiritually when life’s storms come. The Bible also tells us the overflow of a spiritually mature man is someone overflowing with thankfulness, who shows grace to others as a result of seeing the world more clearly through a spiritually developed worldview.
Sexual sin. Man’s folly with sexual sin is so common and can destroy not only marriage, but the family and can also impact the workplace. The Bible gives numerous examples, from King David to Samson, of the price of failure in the area of sexual purity. 1 Corinthians 6:18 instructs, “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” The solution to sexual sin is sexual purity, which is abstinence outside of marriage, and fidelity and godly love within a marriage. This choice is so simple, yet a man’s physical desire is at odds with this simple practice. The Bible’s instruction for this is clear and practical. Do not flirt with sexual immorality. Run from it.