Leadership Temptations Matthew Phillip


Today’s leadership must be aware of its temptations.  They cannot effectively lead if they are
caught in any of the following traps.  I’d like to talk to you about four temptations that will badly
affect today’s leadership effectiveness.

1. Power: Leadership should not get intoxicated with power. The love of power is the love for
oneself.  A man or woman who is captivated by power is fascinated in himself or herself.  They are
not fascinated in people or in what they can achieve. The love of liberty is the love of others.
Power is not of itself good or bad. It really depends upon the one who handles it.  We know
whether power is constructive or destructive when it comes to what its holder makes it. One must
lead with spiritual authority and not with carnal or muscle power.  Spiritual authority comes from
the Lord and not from money, influence, skill or coercion. Those who rule with cold-blooded power
in Christian ministry will have spiritual blackcats/goondas (protection force) around them to get
things done.  God never approves of such leadership. There will be a wide gulf between the leader
and the followers when the leader becomes more powerful.  The first temptation Jesus faced in the
desert was to show his power. Jesus could have exercised his power to make the entire Palestine a
bakery when Satan said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus
answered Satan by quoting God’s Word, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word
that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:3-4).

How to get rid of this temptation? The Solution is to accept your powerlessness and depend on
God’s strength.  God’s power manifests in our weaknesses. There is authority in leadership, but
that authority must be tampered and transformed by the power of God. Although the leaders are
conscious that God has made them the head over their congregation or a group of people, yet this
should not overly impress them nor should they ever become a lord over God’s heritage (1 Peter 5:
3). They should not rule with ruthless force or high handedness, but rather they should rule with
gentleness and patience. Effective leaders understand that sharing power ultimately means
increasing their own power and influence. Ineffective leaders are parochial and fight to retain the
power they have at all cost.

2. Popularity: We should never go after popularity and never fight for prestige and privilege in
Christian ministry. One of the temptations the leadership faces today is to do something
spectacular and become popular. Many are interested in conducting healing and miracle crusades
through which their photos are posted on the street walls and printed in the newspapers. They will
have a lot of followers and prayer partners. We are not against meetings in which healings and
miracles take place, but against such temptations of name, fame and popularity. Our name, fame,
ability and all come from God.  As apostle Paul says, ‘our competence comes from God’ (2
Corinthians 3:5). Such things in leadership are for the benefits of the common people and not to
enjoy by oneself in leadership. When popularity increases leaders become less accessible to their
followers. The second temptation Jesus faced in the desert was to do something spectacular.
Jesus could have jumped down from the highest point of the temple and legions of angels would
have been there to help him. Thus he would have been popular in Palestine and that would have
definitely contributed to the credit of his public ministry. Here again Jesus resisted the devil with
the Word of God (Matthew 4:5-7).

How to get rid of this temptation?  The Solution is your willingness to be led by the Holy Spirit and
going the way you do not know. Abraham became the father of believers. How? He literally
obeyed the command of the Lord to leave his people and place.  He went to the place even though
he did not know where he was going (Hebrews 11:8). He was not looking for name or fame, but
looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10).
Those leaders who build their own kingdoms on earth should never forget to look forward to the
city with foundations.  It is because the city with heavenly foundations will last forever, but the city
with earthly foundation will not last. Jesus appointed seventy-two other disciples and sent those
two-by two to preach the good news of the Kingdom.  They returned with much joy and reported to
him all the miracles that had happened. They said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your
name.” Jesus told them, “However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that
your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:1-20). We may be able to do a lot of things and all ‘in
the name of Jesus,’ but there is a possibility that we may be out of God’s plan and will.

3. Property: The love of money is the root of all evils. We should never accumulate unnecessary
properties and buildings in the name of Christian ministry. To some, it is a matter of their status in
the society.  Money is needed for the ministry. Land is essential and a number of buildings are
absolutely necessary for large ministry purpose. These things should not be a symbol of one’s
power and authority, but for the benefits of the community among whom one serves. The final
temptation Jesus faced in the desert was an offer from Satan to give him all the kingdoms of the
world and their splendour. Satan promised the whole thing if Jesus would bow down and worship
him. Jesus rebuked the devil saying, “away from me Satan!  For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord
your God, and serve him only’” (Matthew 4:8-10).

How to get out of this temptation? The Solution is your accountability to God and to the people
you serve. The temptation of greed is more when there is no accountability. Your contentment with
what you have and your determination to live on minimum must be the lifestyle of the spiritual and
effective leaders. Never give an impression that your leadership is for monetary gain. Trust in
God’s sufficiency and avoid trusting in your own abilities. This is the feature of effective and
spiritual leadership.

4. Politics: Playing politics is common in leadership today.  People do this to secure their own
positions in leadership. Such leaders will make their position safe and sound at any cost. They
either entice or coerce their followers to make allegiance to them so that they will be able to come
into the power next time. We see a lot of canvassing going on in churches and organizations in the
name of politics. Leaders persuade people by giving them money or false promises. Such leaders
spend a lot of money in advertising.  When leaders are needed for the church or organization, they
should be selected unanimously on the basis of their character, qualification, seniority and

How to overcome this temptation? We need people who are filled and guided by the Holy Spirit to
be effective in the ministry. In the early church when the apostles did not have enough time to see
the details of daily administration, they needed some assistants to whom they could delegate
responsibility, so they could give themselves more fully to the ministry of the Word.  Setting up
lines of authority and delegating responsibility solved this organizational problem.  What kind of
people was selected to assist them?  They selected “men who are known to be full of the Spirit
and wisdom” (Acts 6: 3).  They worked under the authority of apostles.  Because of the largeness
of the work, it is biblical to give geographical and cultural representations. The government of the
church usually depends on the type of government the people are familiar within their culture.
Some people like a system in which all have a voice.  In that case voting makes decisions.  The
saddest thing we find in Christendom is big and expensive campaign in the name of election like
political parties do today.  Some others like to have one leader they recognize.  They trust him to
select those who will work with him.  The danger here is autocracy.  However, “one man rule” is
not the biblical pattern.  Acts 15 records a church council where important decisions were made.
The apostles were the early church leaders, but they worked together with elders of the churches
(Acts 15:6, 22).  Bible says, “Plans fail for the lack of counsel, but with many advisors they
succeed” (Proverb. 15:22).