Like you, I was saddened to hear of General David Petraeus’s resignation as Director of the CIA because of an extra-marital affair. Many think there’s much more to this story than we’ve heard so far. Nothing would surprise me. I just hope he’s able to get his life straightened out and save his marriage.
In 2003, I wrote a book called The Samson Syndrome (Thomas Nelson). Based on the life of Samson as revealed in Judges 13-16, it’s an exploration of 12 tendencies commonly found in strong men…tendencies that lead them into trouble again and again. When I heard the news about General Petraeus, I thought: There it is again. The Samson Syndrome in action.
General Petraeus is indeed a modern-day Samson. I doubt that he could bench-press chariots like Samson could, but have you seen the hardware hanging on his chest? He is a man’s man if ever there was one.
The following words are taken from the first chapter of The Samson Syndrome. I feel confident that you could take out the word Samson and insert the words General Petraeus without sacrificing an ounce of truth.
Samson slipped gradually into a life of disobedience by making a series of small compromises. And every time he did, you can be sure he was relying on his great strength to be his safety net. “I can handle it” was his motto…Strong men who have great confidence in their ability to “handle things” often disregard boundaries.
I’m sure General Petraeus didn’t just get up one morning, look in the mirror, and say to himself, “David, you need to have an affair, old boy. Let’s go see if we can find a female who would like to join us on the road to career suicide and public humiliation.”
Instead, it probably started with a lingering glance or a suggestive comment. A teeny tiny little compromise that led to one slightly bigger the next day, and then one slightly bigger the next day, and then one slightly bigger the next day. And with every compromise General Petraeus no doubt thought, “I can handle this. After all, I’ve led armies into battle and won wars! I have medals hanging all over the front of my coat!”
That’s where we guys always mess up.
We look at our medals (accomplishments) and think we’re cooler than we really are, smarter than we really are, stronger than we really are.
And so I must ask…what are you “handling” right now? Have you stepped outside some established boundaries in your pursuit of something (or someone) off limits? Are you doing something you know God doesn’t approve of? Something that you’re having to hide? Something that would horrify your spouse and kids and friends if they knew? Something that would ruin you if you got caught?
If so, stop.
Just stop. Now. Before it’s too late.
Colossians 3:5 says, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you.”