Psalm 69:6 May those who hope in you
not be disgraced because of me,
O Lord, the Lord Almighty;
may those who seek you
not be put to shame because of me,
O God of Israel.
This strikes me as a prayer that more “professional Christians” need to pray! The actions of leaders have far more repercussions than the actions of those who are not in such positions. As James said, teachers in the Church are judged more strictly for exactly that reason. (James 3:1) When prominent Christian personalities, either preachers or entertainers, have been exposed publicly in flagrant sins, the entire Church has been tarred with that brush, to a degree. The world is not “fair,” as we see fairness, and we need to get that through our heads. None of us lives for ourselves alone, and the broader our influence, the greater our responsibility. David grasped that, perhaps because he failed so spectacularly. (Actually, I don’t know if this Psalm was written before or after Psalm 51. If before, then it is highly ironic.) Every human being is, well, human. The problem is, the bigger we become in our own eyes, the more we forget that. As Paul said, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12) We all stumble, with depressing regularity. That’s all the more reason for leaders to pray this prayer of David with all humility and sincerity.
This thought, whether or not I was remembering this particular Scripture, has been a help to me in resisting temptation on quite a few occasions. When the devil has thrown thoughts of suicide at me, for example, the awareness of the impact that would have on others has cut that off immediately. For quite a few years I have connected this with Paul’s admonition to “Abstain from all appearance of evil,” as the King James puts it. (1 Thessalonians 5:22) For a leader, it is better not to seem shady, even if you aren’t doing anything shady. I want people to be able to look at me and be drawn closer to Christ, not use me as an excuse for their own sloppy living. I do remember walking out of a small prayer meeting one time when I felt I was being held to an unrealistic standard, but I’m not proud of that. At the time, if I recall correctly, I said something like, “If you won’t let me be human, then I quit.” Church members need to remember that their leaders are indeed human, but for that very reason pray for them to be strengthened and protected.
Father, thank You for this prayer of David. I do pray it as well, that I would not cause anyone to stumble but would consistently lead people to You, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!