Then Saul said, "I have sinned. Come back, David my son. Because you considered my life precious today, I will not try to harm you again. Surely I have acted like a fool and have erred greatly." 1 Samuel 26:21
If ever a man went from hero to zero, it was Michael Parker. His exotic cars, and yachts, and expensive club memberships, and connections to the high and mighty are all gone. His expensive suits were traded for prison garb.
Parker was once worth $50 million, and he had all the power and pizzazz that go with wealth and success. He was once voted the outstanding entrepreneur of the year in the country where he lived. But then things began to go wrong. Bank examiners accused him of draining off $166 million of bank assets into a private corporation. When Columbia Savings & Loan failed, Parker's high living was over.
How does a man go from hero--a well-loved entrepreneur who was a generous donor to organizations and politicians--to a zero who is just another number in a federal institution? Parker, no doubt, will be asking himself the same question for a long time.
Looking back over his failure, Parker admitted that he was driven to succeed. By his own confession he "had his priorities out of whack." His goal, so he said, was "to be a big shot" and "to earn money." Through all of this, Parker said he found what makes life worth living: family, friends, and freedom. When asked what advice he would give to business students, he said, "When every alarm bell in your head tells you the deal is beyond slick, listen to them."
Parker was not alone when it comes to going from hero to zero. More than a few individuals have been on top of the pile, and suddenly the wind shifted, and they were left standing in a desert of sand with no one watching, no one listening, disgraced, without friends or family, their fortune spent, and their future on hold.
Such an individual was the first king of ancient Israel. His name was Saul, a man who stood head and shoulders above the average in height, but a man who was a moral pigmy, who turned and ran in the face of challenge and difficulty.
How does a person go from hero to zero almost overnight? Everyone who does becomes heady with his position and his power. The candidate for disaster begins to think, "The rules don't apply to me." "Besides," they say, "look at my success," and then they ask, "Who will challenge me?" Beginning to make their own rules, they become victims of themselves, and the cancer of self-deception begins to gnaw at the foundation of success. It's amazing how quickly it can be eroded.
Obviously, Parker may have it all straight now, but it is too late. Saul got it straight, too. When he realized what was taking place he cried out, "...I have played the fool..." (1 Samuel 26:21, KJV), but it was too late to turn back the avalanche of disaster which had overtaken him.
Question: Can you learn from the failure of others? Some do; most do not. Should you be a hero who is sliding towards zero, better ask yourself, "What makes me think I am so clever that I can break the rules and get away with it?"
Ultimately, you don't break God's laws; they break you, and you sit up wondering why you didn't have sense enough to listen to your conscience. There is an eternal law that says, "...Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap" (Galatians 6:7, KJV). Never think, "It couldn't happen to me." Stay on the right side of right. It's the only way to keep from going to zero.
Resource reading: 1 Samuel 26:1-25