Samuel was one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. He was the last Judge of Israel before the time of kings, and he had such great leadership in the nation. 1 Samuel 3:19 even stresses that his words never faltered: "So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground."
But no matter how great he was, he was still human and had a very depressing experience as a leader of Israel.
Saul, Samuel's anointed king, was rejected by God
Samuel was the one who anointed Saul as the Lord had directed him, in response to the people's requests. Yet because of his disobedience brought about by his insecurities, Saul the son of Kish was rejected by God as king.
"Now the word of the Lord came to Samuel, saying, "I greatly regret that I have set up Saul as king, for he has turned back from following Me, and has not performed My commandments." And it grieved Samuel, and he cried out to the Lord all night." (1 Samuel 15:10-11)
Despite this sad story, we can learn some lessons from Samuel's disappointment and depression over God's rejection of Saul. Here are some of them.
1. Christian leaders should be sad over a leader's disobedience to God
If Christian leaders—be they pastors or small group leaders—are happy when one of their flock or leaders-in-training gets close to the Lord and takes leaps of obedience to Him, it should also follow that they will feel sadness over one who disobeys and strays away from the Lord. Genuine Christ-like leaders don't rejoice over a brother's disobedience to God.
1 Samuel 15:35 says, "And Samuel went no more to see Saul until the day of his death. Nevertheless Samuel mourned for Saul, and the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel."
2. Our ministry should not end with the loss of one who strays away from the Lord
While it is a noble task to look for the lost sheep that belongs to the flock, leaders must realise that there is so much more to do than just get depressed over one who does not return. God Himself called Samuel out of his mourning in 1 Samuel 16:1.
"Now the Lord said to Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons."
3. Stand up and serve the Lord again. Don't blame yourself for another's failures
While you could consider it your failure when the ones you train fail in what they are doing, you should not consider yourself inadequate, handicapped or unable to serve the Lord again. When you fail in serving Him, do better next time. Do your best to not give up the fight of faith.
Remember, Samuel's first anointed king might have failed; but his second, David, became "the man after God's own heart." (see 1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22)