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Calling and character

One day… [Samson] noticed a certain Philistine woman… “I want to marry a young Philistine woman I saw in Timnah.” … One day Samson went to the Philistine city of Gaza and spent the night with a prostitute… Later Samson fell in love with a woman named Delilah, who lived in the valley of Sorek. — Judges 14:1-216:14

When President William Jefferson Clinton was impeached, the United States was anything but united in its attitude toward what was happening. Apart from the obvious political maneuvers that were taking place, a great debate was going on regarding the nature of leadership.

There were those who insisted that the president was clearly doing a fine job and his personal life was of no concern to anyone else. On the other hand, others argued that a major aspect of the president’s job description is to provide moral leadership to the nation, and this he had manifestly failed to do. Underlying this debate was a bigger question—what role does moral character play in the life of a leader?

The question could certainly have been asked of Samson, the gifted strong-man of ancient Israel. God had called Samson to be a Nazirite, a man dedicated to God’s service from the womb. Samson’s mission was to overpower the enemies of God’s people. In order to fulfill his calling, he had been specially endowed with supernatural strength. The most obvious outward evidence of Samson’s Nazirite calling was his uncut hair.

Because his supernatural gifting (his charisma) was directly related to his calling, his strength remained undiminished as long as his hair remained uncut. So there was no question about his calling or his charisma. But sadly, there were major questions about his moral character.

In particular, Samson’s relations with the fairer sex left much to be desired. His unsuccessful marriage to a Philistine woman (Judges 14:1-20), his dalliance with a Philistine prostitute (16:1-3), and his ill-fated love affair with Delilah—yet another Philistine (16:4‑22)—speak volumes about his character.

The one thing more important than anything else in Samson’s life was the maintenance of his Nazirite vow. But as soon as he “fell in love” with Delilah (16:4), he disregarded the fact that her unusual interest in the secret of his strength was directly related to a Philistine plot to destroy him. So he recklessly played with her and his vow until he was defeated. Samson was careless about his character, he was casual about his calling, and inevitably, he was stripped of his charisma.

Whatever politicians and the public decide about the place of character in the life of a president, there is no question about its significance in the life of a spiritual leader. The words of Dr. Peter Kuzmic, the gifted and powerful Christian leader in the former Yugoslavia, should be heeded. He told a reporter at the height of the Bosnian crisis, “Charisma without character equals chaos.” Too bad Samson never met Peter Kuzmic!

For further study: Judges 14:1-2016:1-4

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.