[From June 13, 2013]
"Samuel said to all Israel... Here I am, testify against me before the LORD and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you."
(1 Samuel 12:3)
The prophet Samuel is coming to the end of his ministry. His mother dedicated him to God as a young boy. He grew up in the Tabernacle with the priest Eli. He heard God's call in his life and eventually anointed Israel's first King (Saul). Now it's time to step away from it all. He's served the LORD well.
Samuel begins his farewell address to the people by asking them about his integrity. Who has he cheated, robbed, or oppressed? Now is the time to make things right. They all confirm that he's cheated, robbed, or oppressed no one. His life & ministry has been one of complete integrity. (He then goes on to challenge them to continue to love, serve, and be faithful to God after his departure.)
This first part, however, really stood out for me, from a ministry leaders' perspective. When we get appointed to a new church, can we stand before our former congregation and ask the same things? Have we lived (and modeled) lives of integrity? When we come to the end of our years of service (whenever that may be), can we ask the same questions and receive the same answers Samuel did?
Nobody's perfect, of course. But people won't be able to hear the message of God's love & forgiveness for all creation if our lives aren't lived with integrity. When we fall short, can we be honest & transparent... repent with all our hearts... and receive forgiveness? Or must we maintain a facade of righteousness?
Be real. Live with integrity. Love God. Love others. That was Samuel's legacy.
May it also be mine.