The 3 Privileges and 3 Temptations of Leadership


Temptations of LeadershipDo you think it’s easier handling success or failure?  Thomas Caryle once said, “For every one hundred people who can handle adversity there is only one who can handle prosperity.”  I think most people can’t handle being at the top.  It changes them.  In fact, success destroys some people. There are several legitimate benefits of being in leadership.

  • Position — you can become more
  • Power — you can do more
  • Privilege — you can have more

The extra effort and work you put in you get more position, more power and more privilege.  With each one of these comes a very great temptation that can be your downfall as a leader if you misuse it.  I Cor. 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

We’re going to look at the temptations of leadership, an appropriate thing if you read the newspaper.  The three greatest nations of the world often face turmoil because of the abuses of leadership. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Today we’re going to look at the temptations of leadership and the antidote.

1.  You will be tempted to misuse your position. 

Have you ever seen anyone get a promotion at work and they suddenly become a little dictator?  It changes them.  They’re a nice guy until they get the promotion.  Then all of a sudden they start treating everybody demeaningly, derogatorily, making excessive demands on people.  Unrealistic demands demoralize people.

Pastors are elders and overseers, and the shepherding of the church is in our hands. But this is not an excuse to abuse the influence granted to us and to exploit people. In fact, the Bible is clear that the church’s shepherd-leaders will be judged far more harshly because of their potential to influence people to move toward Christ or away from Him.

2.  You will be tempted to abuse your power.

You can be a driver or a motivator. Drivers have no appreciation for the people they oversee while motivators are constantly finding ways to empower the people around them. Your role as a Pastor isn’t to hold people down and have them to serve your needs, but to elevate them and equip them to serve Jesus and change the world. In other words, the power God gave you as a leaders isn’t for you, it’s for others.

3.  You will be tempted to profit from your privileges. 

When The Purpose Driven Life went global, two things came into our lives that we never expected – a new global influence and a new financial affluence. Kay and I had to make a decision about what we would do with those resources. We decided to start reverse-tithing. We started giving away 90% of the income we were receiving and living off the other 10%, and I stopped taking a salary. I’m Saddleback’s busiest volunteer!

When you decide to profit from the privileges of your leadership, you give people a reason to question your motives. That doesn’t mean Pastors can’t be compensated in a generous way. It simply means that we have to check the motives of our heart as leaders to avoid any question about why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Next week, I want to talk about three ways to keep your integrity as a leader. Until then, beware of these three temptations of leadership.

photo credit: Toastwife

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Rick Warren About Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

  • Alan

    Your words are always simple and profound. We need to be good stewards not just profitable ones. Still praying for you and Joy. And still in ministry because of you, thanks.

  • PScotty

    This is very good. If we are not good stewards of our position it becomes easy to manipulate God’s people for our personal benefit. Thanks for the article.

  • Nonso

    Pastor Rick,you’ve blessed my life tremendously through your publications.May you always be refreshed.

  • Rakhelliana

    blessing me!! God bless you!!!

  • Martin Sansone

    A great assessment highlighting the responsibilities of leadership which apply in every area of our lives.

  • Joel Souza JS

    Thanks Rick for being a blessing in our lives. God keep inspiring you in your jorney!

  • bruno luzolo

    muitu obrigado pastor Rick warren isto já acontecendo no meu ministério desde 17 anos que estou a servir meu Deus deja que Deus continua a colocar em ti a sua sabedoria,

  • Pedro Asifor

    Thanks Rick may God continue to empower you with more wisdom.

  • Ray

    Love you pastor Rick. Thank u

  • Alex

    There truely good, honest and selfless leaders in the body of Christ – Pastor Rick you’re one of them and i appreciate your leadership.

  • Elijah L. Green III

    Pastor Rick thanks for your honest, open teaching! May God continue to use you for His glory!!!!!

  • Prabhu Nandan

    Wow..beautiful..Thank you Pastor Rick.

  • simba

    powerful statement Pastor thanks

  • edmundo sanchez

    God bless you Rick and family

  • Jose A Favela

    Muchas gracias Pastor Rick

  • Constantino

    Thank you for the motivation Pastor Rick.

  • Wallace Mang

    Thank you for sharing, Pastor Rick.

  • Ricardo Butler


  • Mark Grooms

    As a pastor we need to be constantly reminded of this great responsibility! Thanks for the admonition.

  • Ink Wells Rock

    The lord has been good to me: If I ever had “position” He’s taken it before I noticed, the only power I have had is elbow grease and I have neither privilege nor profit to show for it .. He’s accomplished it. Somehow I still get into trouble and constantly have to amend my ways. I do know when I am getting a tap on the shoulder to straighten up and fly right. But I have to monitor the controls.

  • Priscilla Rivera

    Thank you Pastor Rick… You are truly been a great motivator…

  • Andrew Ure

    I am always blessed and helped by your leadership. I look forward to the next instalment.

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