Leadership lesson: Be willing to walk away

Aug 15, 2012Everything book

Reading about the era of the kings in Israel can give a person whiplash. Good king, evil king, super evil king, average king, bad king. Lather, rinse, repeat.

But recently I read about a good king who did something very surprising. His name? Amaziah. Here’s what he did. He organized the army, then decided to hire warriors from Israel.

This is when the kingdom was divided, and Israel was being naughty with a capital N. Watch what happens next.

“But a man of God came to the king and said, “O king, do not hire troops from Israel, for the LORD is not with Israel. He will not help those people of Ephraim!  If you let them go with your troops into battle, you will be defeated no matter how well you fight. God will overthrow you, for he has the power to help or to frustrate.”

Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what should I do about the silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?”

The man of God replied, “The LORD is able to give you much more than this!”

So Amaziah discharged the hired troops and sent them back to Ephraim. This made them angry with Judah, and they returned home in a great rage” (2 Chronicles 25:7-10, NLT).

Sometimes when victory comes near, and we want to rely on what seems to be the right things (powerful men), God reminds us that we should not trust in anything other than Him. We need to be willing to walk away. Amaziah did.

I experienced this recently. I had an opportunity that seemed very big. I felt uncomfortable with it, to be honest, but I battled whether I should let go of this situation or pursue it and violate my conscience.

The Lord was gracious to me. He sent me a man of God, in this case Bill Hybels from the Global Leadership Summit, who asked us all to close our eyes and listen to his questions. He asked us about integrity. And as he did, this situation fluttered to mind, then slammed me in the heart.

Would I walk away from what seemed like salvation? Or would I embrace the thing that might catapult my career, knowing that doing so would make it hard for me to look myself in the mirror?

In light of that, I walked away.

It reminds me of this verse: “What sorrow awaits those who look to Egypt for help, trusting their horses, chariots, and charioteers and depending on the strength of human armies instead of looking to the LORD, the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 31:1, NLT.

God has called us to trust in Him alone, no matter what the cost, no matter how foolish or weird it might be. He is bigger than horses. He is bigger than the mightiest warrior. Sometimes God says, to cut bait and run.

How about you? When has God asked you to walk away–even after you’d invested time, money and energy?