There was a time in my youth when I was so naïve and full of innocence that I couldn’t imagine a Christian in leadership blowing it big time. Sure I believed we were all sinners saved by grace but I assumed that learning from mistakes always resulted in growth and holiness, especially someone in Christian leadership. This may be true but in reality as we rise in leadership the privileges and temptations increase. I didn’t understand that in life a leader will sometimes take 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. Sometimes a leader will fall out of the race altogether.
One of the greatest challenges we all face in leadership is how to handle power. Power does something to us. It is a seduction not unlike the strong undertow I have seen in the ocean. It is a reality. It is forceful. It is dangerous. It is a force you must know how to swim away from. Refusing the seduction of misusing power is a similar task. There is a lot at stake…sometimes not just your own life but many others. Power can be used for good or evil.
I recall a time at a youth beach retreat that I drifted out in the ocean. The sun was warm and bright and the ocean so inviting as I lay on my raft. I must have dozed a little and before I knew it I was out deeper than my friends and fighting the current. My desire or plan was not to drift. But it happened.
It‘s easy for a person in a leadership role to become accustomed to feeling that because he has “earned” privileges, he actually deserves them. And it’s only a short step from feeling you deserve them to demanding them. This has been innate in the downfall of many leaders.
The seduction of power can suck us in its grasp. A Christian leader often has the resources to do what he wishes. He usually has the staff and people around him to carry out his purposes. In addition, he may also have the authority to do what he wishes. Unfortunately the higher up a leader climbs the less accountability he may choose.
In the book of II Samuel, Chapter 11, we see this is true of David. As you read this story you see that David had the authority, personnel and money to pull this off. Though God desired him to use these privileges for good, David used them to take advantage of others.
Sometime ago a trusted Christian leader in an organization put one of his younger staff in a position of service at a church. The staff person did such a great job that soon he was asked by the church Sr. Pastor to consider extending his commitment for 5-10 more years. As he was praying through that decision a few weeks later it was discovered that there were many indiscretions in the church pastor he was serving…abuse of people, finances, distortion, and dysfunction of every kind imaginable. After the pastor was discovered he demanded that the staff person keep quiet about all he had learned. When he realized that the integrity of this servant would not allow him to conform to his wishes he placed the same demands on the Christian leader over the servant. The pastor threatened to run the organization out of the city if they did not go along with his demands. Unfortunately this organizational director was afraid of losing some of his power and potential influence so he gave into the demands of this pastor which included throwing the young staff under the bus. The Christian leader attempted to cover up what he was doing but truth has a way of coming out eventually. He was seduced by power and lost.
Whether abuse of power involves sexual immorality, financial or political, not doing the right thing is a disregard for the Scriptures that warn: You have been given freedom; not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve one another. Galatians 5:13
Have you ever been affected by misuse of leadership privileges?