Do you know this historic figure from the American old west? He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy and when he died, he was buried at West Point. He earned the rank of colonel, and then general. His final regiment was the 7th Calvary of the U.S. Army. By everyone’s account, he was brilliant in the 12 or so battles that he participated in… with one exception.
George Armstrong Custer, along with 210 of his men, died on June 25, 1876 at Little Big Horn. It is arguably one of the most talked about defeats on American soil. Sitting Bull had gathered multiple tribes together in defiance of the U.S. government’s press to move Native Americans onto reservations. Crazy Horse then led several thousand warriors against an outmanned army and many historians believe the victory came in less than one hour. The battle became known as “Custer’s Last Stand.” By most accounts, he died in battle at the young age of 36 because he made three costly, tactical errors:
- He refused additional help from General Terry just four days earlier.
- He left his fire power, in the form of new Gatling guns, behind.
- He divided his troops into three separate regiments.
Success and failure reveal a lot about a person. Whether the leader is a 19th century military commander or a biblical monarch, their stories often provide important lessons and principles today. Take King Uzziah for example. Scripture says about King Uzziah: “… his fame spread far and wide, for he was greatly helped until he became powerful. But after Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall” (2 Chronicles 26:15-16). You will recall that Uzziah burned incense on the altar of the Lord and was confronted by Azariah and 80 additional priests. When challenged, he became enraged, defensive and eventually aroused the Lord’s judgment. At the end of his life Uzziah was alone and the pain of dreaded leprosy wreaked havoc on his body.
Pride can be subtly cloaked in self-confidence. It’s often the result of a slide from dependency on others to self-reliance. It’s profitable to remember that the God who blesses is also the God who breaks. While He delights in our successes, He is also never hesitant to address any drift that has occurred. Solomon declared, “He gives grace to the humble and resists the proud.”
Just three miles from where Custer and his men died, in the shadow of Little Big Horn, is a fellowship of believers led by Pastor Ken Pretty on Top. His ministry touches people weekly from around the world. God has literally brought the nations to him. The tribal leaders of the Crow nation respect and honor him. The fruit and influence of his ministry is evident everywhere. To add to all of that, this Foursquare pastor and his congregation were the recipients of a significant donor gift that allowed them to move into a brand new facility with no debt.
I was present for the dedication of their new facility and observed Pastor Ken, a humble man, who is quick to acknowledge, “With men these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). I can only imagine that God loves to send such unexpected surprises to those who continually delight themselves in Him.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV).
By: Glenn Burris Jr., interim president