Developing Leaders – Tom Yeakley

Taking the Mystery out of Leadership

Archive for the tag “abuse of power”

Fighting the Need to Increase

The following is a second excerpt from an article by R. Scott Rodin titled, “Becoming a Leader of No Reputation” that originally was published in Journal of Religious Leadership,/ Vol. 1, No. 2 (Fall 2002), pp. 105 – 119.

“Most Christian leaders would say that in their hearts they would wish that Jesus would increase and they would decrease.  But it is hard to decrease in a leadership position.  There are natural trappings that distinguish those in leadership such as salary, title, prestige, priority, power, influence, honor and advancement.  And in each area there are tempting opportunities for increase.

“Perhaps the hardest place to decrease is in the influence and the power we hold over people and decisions.  For this reason we find Christian leaders who are overly directive at best, and autocratic at worst.  And as a result we produce churches and ministries that are rife with ‘learned helplessness’.  By overestimating our own worth, we help our people depend on us for everything.  And that dependence feeds into our need to be needed, to be the “idea person” and visionary, and to be in control.  We tell ourselves that the more we lead in this way, the more our leadership is valued and our presence desired.

Robert Greenleaf reminds us that the difference between a true servant-leader who is servant first, and the leader-servant who seeks leadership first, lies in the growth of the people who serve under them.  The test question is, “do those served grow as persons; do they, /while being served/, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants?”

“Truly godly leaders empower their people, give away authority, value and involve others, seek the best in and from their people, and constantly seek to lift others up, push others into the limelight, and reward those they lead.  All so that God’s will might be done in a more powerful way.  They seek no glory for themselves, but find great joy in seeing others prosper.  They take no account of their reputation, but seek that Jesus’ face be seen in all they do.  Max DePree‘s famous definition is worth repeating, “The first responsibility of the leader is to define reality.  The last is to say thank you.  In between the leader is a servant.””

It’s time to reflect on the position of the spotlight.  Is it focused on you the leader or are you moving that focus towards others around you?

3 Temptations for Leaders

This is what the LORD says:   “Maintain justice and do what is right.…  But what is right?  How do I know if it is right or wrong?  As leaders we are frequently making judgment calls where it is not black or white, rather it seems as if most of these decisions are “gray.”  What standards or grids can we use to help us?  Here’s one simple guideline  –  if the devil is involved, it’s wrong!

Let’s look at the temptations that Jesus faced and see what lessons and applications we can make for ourselves.

3 Temptations of Jesus/Leader      Luke 4:1-13

 1)  Self-Gratification     –        vs. 3-4

3The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”  4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.

This is the temptation to use resources for yourself, instead of the work.  Leaders often have special access to leadership accounts or resources that others don’t have.  Many times there is also a lack of oversight or accountability for these accounts and it can be very easy to justify an expense that is personal and say it was for the work.  The ability to say no to this type of temptation is key for further responsibility in the Kingdom.  See Luke 16:9-11 and Nehemiah 5:14-19.

2)  Self-Promotion        –        vs. 5-8

5The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor, for it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7So if you worship me, it will all be yours.”  8Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.

The second temptation of Jesus is also a common one leaders face – that is, the temptation to use our position and influence to promote ourselves.  This seeking of power or position or influence flows from a misguided sense of ambition.  Many Kingdom leaders are self-flagellating out of the misconception that any kind of ambition is wrong or bad.  But in the NT we find that there are two types of ambition.  The bad type is self-seeking and wants to gather attention to ourselves.  Our English bibles often translate it with the words “selfish ambition.”   See Philippians 2:3-4.  But there is a good ambition, one that seeks to promote Christ and the Kingdom, rather than self.  Paul mentions this in Romans 15:20 when describing his own ambition.

3)  Self-Glorification     –        vs. 9-12

9The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” ….12Jesus answered, “It says: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.

This last temptation is seeking attention for ourselves, turning the spotlight on us, or taking credit for something that was the work of others.  It flows from an enlarged ego that is a common trait among leaders.  Want to know if you are in a danger zone for this?  Here’s a simple test – how much do you talk rather than ask questions and listen?  See 1 Samuel 15:12.

Leadership is not about you, but others!  Beware of these common temptations and pitfalls that have removed others from the race!

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