by Charles R. Swindoll
While cleaning out my study at home last Monday, I came across a book I had read several years ago. It's one of those volumes that stays with you—resourceful, insightful, and timeless. One particular line about halfway through the book jumped off the page: "A time to be careful is when one reaches his goals. . . . It is then, with all his resources spent and his guard down, that an individual must watch out for dulled reactions and faulty judgment."
In other words, vulnerability accompanies achievement. After the long haul, energy drained, dreams realized, enthusiasm peaked, desire accomplished—watch out!
Maybe that is the best explanation for the rarity of repeating champions. Back in the mid-1980s, the Chicago Bears cleaned everyone's plow. They won it all. The Windy City had waited so long, many were sure their team had what it took to do a repeat performance. How wrong they were! Before the taste of victory became stale, the erosion of self-destruction was underway.
What happens in sports can happen as readily in a ministry. During the difficult years, the watchword is survival, and the battle cry is sacrifice. Hard times bind people together. Goals are set. Prayers are offered. Every week is a new adventure in faith. By and by, the pieces fall into place, and the goals are finally reached. It is there—on the perilous pinnacle of accomplishment—that the adversary lurks with his corrupting influence.
The same can happen to an individual. My thoughts return to the man whose heart followed hard after God. Jesse's youngest son preferred the rugged solitude of the wilderness . . . but Jehovah's plan was that he occupy the throne of Israel. Years of hardship and humiliation under Saul's incessant assault preceded his promotion. Even when he became the king, the thirty-year-old monarch conducted himself with unselfish, untarnished integrity. The nation flourished because David's magnificent obsession was the glory of God.
Then came that infamous day in early spring—the morning David chose to sleep in rather than accompany his men to battle. Who knows why? Could it be that his impressive record of successes made him soft? Only a brief spell of passionate indulgence, yet it changed everything. His peace vanished. His character blasted irretrievably. His family life destroyed.
Alas, he was not the last to fall prey to the peril of past victories. The paths of history are strewn with the litter of heroes who forgot to walk carefully along the narrow ledges of the heights. How have the mighty fallen!
Resting on your laurels is a synonym for flirting with disaster. Write that reminder down where you can see it frequently.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.