Summary: Second in the leadership series this message deals with the DANGER that awaits any leader who foolishly thinks they can take a shortcut in accomplishing God’s will for their life.



GENESIS 16:1-4

©Larry L. Thompson (2003)


One of the strengths of studying leadership principles in the life of biblical leaders is in the assurance that there will be no whitewashing, no glossing over sin or failure—just the plain, unadulterated truth. We can take great comfort that God’s word is preserved and delivered to us in that way. If the men and women of Scriptures were not true to life, they would lose their value to us. They would be of no help to us in understanding how to live the victorious Christian life, no help to us in building leadership. We learn from both their success and their sin.

THE DARKEST BLOT in Abraham’s life is recorded in the passage of Scripture we will examine today. It is centered on the proposition of an unholy sinful shortcut in order to obtain the long desired promise from God…a promised son to Abraham and Sarah. It is hard to believe that the man who performed so well prior to this one action in his life, and who will perform with such excellence following this incident in his life, could be guilty of such faithless conduct as is recorded of him in our text. But the Bible does not lie. It paints the picture of man with accurate detail, even a man of God, even a spiritual leader. In our study of developing true biblical leadership we need not only see the success of leaders, but also be able to show the sin of leaders so that we can learn from their mistakes and avoid the same pitfalls.

• Today’s Leadership Professor: Abraham, the “father of faith”

• Today’s Leadership Principle: There Can Be No SPIRITUAL SUCCESS IN SHORTCUTS

• The Leaders Call: “The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1)

• The Leaders Strength: His faith pleased God and was honored as THE FATHER OF THE JEWISH NATION; he was well respected and courageous in defending his family at any cost; he practiced hospitality to others; a successful and wealthy rancher; and he avoided conflicts by allowing his opponent favor in settling the dispute


• The Leaders Story: God desires dependence, trust, and faith in Him—not faith in our ability to please him!

• The Leaders Scripture: “Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

This week’s lesson in leadership will focus on this principle: THERE CAN BE NO SPIRITUAL SUCCESS IN SINFUL SHORTCUTS! As we examine this sinful shortcut in the life of today’s leader we will look closely at two areas: The Proposition of the Shortcut, (vv. l–4), and, The Problems from the Shortcut (vv. 4–6).


Genesis 16:1-4 (NIV)

“Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; [2] so she said to Abram, "The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." Abram agreed to what Sarai said. [3] So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. [4] He slept with Hagar, and she conceived. When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress.”

Sarah’s shortcut to obtain the promised heir constituted the sin of sexual immorality. In making the proposal of taking this shortcut, Sarah was urging Abraham to commit sexual immorality. THE KEY ELEMENT OF EVERY SINFUL SHORTCUT IN OUR LIFE IS TEMPATATION. As we examine the proposition of a sinful shortcut we will receive valuable biblical insight on the subject of temptation. We will see clearly the clever tools of Satan that are used to get godly leaders lured into the trap of taking a sinful shortcut in their walk with God. There are five basic elements in every temptation that encourages God’s leaders to take shortcuts.


In coming from Sarah, the suggestion given Abraham to accept the sinful shortcut came from a source which made the temptation very strong. No one else could have made such a proposal to Abraham and succeeded in getting Abraham to pay any attention to it. So when she made the proposition of the sinful shortcut, the temptation to act on the proposition became very strong.

The SOURCE of temptation has much to do with the STRENGTH of temptation. It is an old trick of the devil to have temptation come from the places of honor, trust, esteem, position, and popularity. A temptation to act on a sinful shortcut does not have the impact on your life as it does when it comes from some trusted and respected friend or from some highly respected educator or public official or popular person. Therefore, do note be blinded to spiritual truth just because someone you love or someone with impressive credentials suggests a sinful shortcut. We must reject sinful shortcuts no matter who the Author is that encourage us to act. Paul said in Galatians 1:8:

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