Do 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. First Corinthians 10:12 states, “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (NIV).
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 their antidote.
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 in a demeaning and derogatory way, 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 or away from Christ.
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 serve your needs, but to elevate and equip them to serve Jesus and change the world. In other words, the power God gave you as a leader isn’t for you, it’s for others.
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.
In my next Ministry Toolbox, I will talk about three ways to keep your integrity as a leader.