Choosing to Follow God: Leadership Lessons From the Life of Cain

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In my last article, I argued that church leaders could learn lessons from the sin of Cain. You can find that blog post here. Cain murdered his brother, Abel, because he was angry, jealous, and bitter. I discussed the way in which these parasitic motives can destroy our ministry and decrease our influence.

Lesson #2: Sin is trying to steal our hearts and minds, but we have a choice. We do not have to choose sin. We are able to overcome sin with the help of God.

In Genesis 4:7 the Lord says to Cain, “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

And get this, God said this to Cain before Cain committed murder. God gave him full warning, and yet Cain choose to disobey. Cain allowed bitterness and jealousy to completely consume him.

As this scripture indicates, sin is lying in wait trying to devour us – the word here literally means “to desire.” This passage is saying that sin is lusting after us. There is an adversary out there trying to kill, steal, and destroy. Sin is crouching like a tiger waiting to pounce on us. We must be on guard. Sin has a carnal, lustful desire over us. Yet, we have a choice – to give in or to master it.

Sin isn’t just something we blindly stumble into. John Wesley defined sin as “a voluntary transgression of a known law of God.” Wesley emphasized the choice God gives us to follow God and not to sin. We must, therefore, be leery of the sin that so wants to entangle us.

Often smaller transgressions lead to major offenses. Reflect on the fact Cain’s first sin was not murder but pride and jealousy. As church leaders, we must be mindful of the small sins that can lead us down a path of utter destruction.

Cain had a choice.  So do we.



Gabe Lawson serves as the Pastor of Discipleship and Care at First Alliance Church in Lexington, KY. He also serves as a chaplain in the US Air Force Reserves, an ordained minister in the Christian & Missionary Alliance, and a wedding photographer with his wife, Mary. You can follow him on Twitter @gabriellawson and Instagram @gabelawson