Being a leader is both a great privilege and responsibility.
Spiritual leadership is perhaps more so, because there is the added factor of walking humbly with God while also pointing the way for others. Even some of greatest heroes of the Bible had their dark side–David’s had an affair with Bathsheeba, Moses murdered an Egyptian in anger, and Peter denied knowing Jesus on the night His Master was arrested. Yet God still used them, flaws and all.
But there is another category of spiritual leader Jesus despises. Luke 20:45-46 reveal their traits:
45 While all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 46 “Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. These men will be punished most severely.”
They lead others, but they love power and attention for themselves. In the end, “…these men will be punished most severely.”
Some have claimed introverts make better leaders because they lead out of necessity, not out of a need for attention. I’m not sure this is always the case, but it reflects the idea Jesus has in mind in these words. The danger of spiritual leadership is to serve so you can be a leader rather than serving because you are a leader. This motive makes all the difference.
When people see us or any Christian leader serving for our own purposes, it makes the Christ we serve look bad and His message is dishonored. But when we offer ourselves to serve others, whether in leadership or any other act of service, much good can be accomplished. People can then see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven, as Scripture mentions.
If you are a Christian leader today or emerging leader in progress, please take Jesus’ words in these verses seriously. Our goal must always be to serve to help others, not to help ourselves. It may not pay well, turn out well, and can even lead to suffering and death in some cases (as it did with Jesus), but we can only lead well when we are led well. We must stay connected with Jesus that we may connect others to Him.
Dillon Burroughs is the author or co-author of numerous books and is handwriting a copy of the New Testament in 2011 at HolyWritProject.com. Find out more about Dillon at Facebook.com/readdB or readdB.com.