When trusted counselors go bad, churches pay a heavy price.
Evangelical churches do not have an official or formally recognized pope. But there are individuals in churches whose counsel is received as if it is from God himself, even if they do not hold top leadership positions.
In King David’s life, this influential individual was Ahithophel, his trusted counselor. When David’s son, Absalom, planned a treacherous rebellion against his father, Ahithophel entered the picture as a minor character with a major role in 2 Samuel 15:12.
Most of us would expect Ahithophel to offer morally righteous guidance to the royal family. Instead, he told Absalom to sleep with his father’s concubines and even volunteers to embark on a covert mission to murder David.
As a pastor in the Philippines, I have encountered several modern-day Ahithophels in ministry. On the one hand, they may offer biblical, ethical advice that helps the church to grow spiritually. On the other hand, they may pursue hidden agendas and perpetuate disorder and dysfunction within a congregation. These damaging effects to the church are exacerbated when people constantly defer to their wishes and desires. Consequently, pastors and church leaders may make decisions not because they are the best course of action to undertake but because they are what a particular person of influence wants.
Some of the Ahithophels in our churches today may be influential because they are major donors. Others may have such a likable and charismatic personality that everyone is drawn to listen to their counsel, even if they may not have the wisest opinion or an accurate diagnosis of the problem.
Through Ahithophel’s life story in Scripture, we get a glimpse of what happens when we place too much trust in …
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