In the book of Judges, we learn about the powerful judge and prophet who was a divinely inspired leader to Israel whose name was Sampson. He was famous for his incredible strength.  His name in Hebrew is Shemesh which means “Sun.”   Before he was born, his mother was visited by an angel and told that he would be dedicated to the service of Yahweh and would be a lifelong Nazarite, which was a group known for their dedication to God.

Sampson was born to be a leader.  He was born to be a light for others to see, that they might know and trust the One, True,  Living God through his life and example.  We do not get a complete life story in the Bible about this man, but what we do know is that he made several mistakes along his path that ultimately led to his humiliation and death.

Sampson fell in love with Delilah, who was employed by the lords of the Philistines to find out the source of Sampson’s power.  Her name means, “faithless one.”  She tried several times before succeeding in getting him to reveal that his uncut hair was the source of his strength.

I won’t go into details (you can read them in the book of Judges for yourself), but Sampson was careless with God’s call on his life.  He used his power recklessly and for personal benefit.  He was emotional and revengeful.  He was a lustful man who pursued women who did not follow God.  He confided in the wrong people.  He relied more on his strength than on God.  And he had little to no fellowship with God… calling out to God only two times and in both cases it was because he was in trouble.

Sharing this narrative is a departure from my usual style of writing. However, as I considered my personal failing in ministry, and there have been many, I found this story rising up in my mind.

Why?

Because I am guilty of being far too much like Sampson in my own ministry.  I have never been accused of having Hulk like strength, but what physical strength I have has never been diminished as a result of my mistakes – but I have missed many opportunities to be used of God.  And I relate to him being mocked in the temple of the foreign god while standing chained to the supporting structures.

I have held onto the wrong things only to realize I am in the posture of being held prisoner by them.  Yet I am free. I am alive in Christ. I only need to remember this truth, proclaim it, cry out to the ONE TRUE LIVING GOD and He will be glorified

Don’t let your mistakes keep you from living and living life to the full!  Look up, and move forward.

Sampson is redeemed as his name is mentioned in the book of Hebrews among those with great faith.  His story and his time as a leader in Israel could have been very different had he made better choices, but in the end, he made the best choice any of us can make – he swallowed his pride and cried out to God, asking to be a part of making His name great!  While we have breath, no matter our mistakes, we can cry out to God to use what time and talent we have to bring glory to His name!

May you learn from your mistakes and those of others who have gone before you, and may you seize the day, using every ounce of power God has given you to glorify His name!

Chris Coggins

Chris Coggins

Student Ministry Veteran & Small Group Leader at Grace Vineyard-Austin
Chris is a 20-year student ministry veteran, who has served in all aspects of student ministry from middle school through college. He is a father of 4 boys, ages 4-13 and has been married to his beautiful wife Adrienne since August 1997. Together they have ministered around the world. They desire to see students become fully committed followers of Christ.
Chris Coggins