The Lure of Leadership
Every leader will have his/her character tested. In fact, being a leader has its own unique challenges, your response to which will determine your success as a leader.
Today I read about a flawed leader, King Herod Agrippa, whose decisions and their effects give me pause to consider my own heart. I pulled some excerpts of his story from Acts 12:1-3, 19-23 NLT.
There exists a dangerous “Lure of Leadership” that must be exposed and confronted in every leader’s heart.
1. The lure of power.
About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword.
As a leader you will tempted to display your power to strike an element of fear in people. It’s true, leaders do have power – and that power sometimes must be exercised – but beware that you aren’t being motivated by insecurity and/or youthful arrogance. The most influential leaders don’t have to force people to follow.
2. The lure of approval.
When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter.
It would be somewhat shallow of a leader to say, “I don’t need man’s approval; I only live to please God.” Yeah, we hear you, super-Christian.
The problem is that, by definition, leaders lead. So, to some degree you must be able to win the approval and trust of others. The test is knowing your own heart and the lines that God draws in each situation.
Sometimes leaders should take heed to the voice of wisdom that comes through the people they lead; but sometimes God will require a leader to make an unpopular, but righteous decision. In those moments your approval ratings on earth may drop; so listen for the applause of heaven.
3. The lure of pride.
Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for [Peter, who had been released from prison by the Lord]. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death.
Pride manifests itself through self-preservation. As a leader, do you get defensive and angry when things don’t go your way? Do you take it out on others?
If you will, at times, humble yourself before others, acknowledging a poor decision, and committing yourself to learning and growing from the experience, people will not think less of you. In fact, humility is a trait that people honor. People will be loyal to a humble leader; but a prideful leader will fall… alone.
4. The lure of control.
Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant, and an appointment with Herod was granted.
Some leaders are like puppeteers – they like controlling the people and pulling the strings. In fact, they sometimes do things just to watch people dance around them. They keep people second guessing. They make people walk the line.
I firmly believe that a leader must have control. (I believe that about parenting, too – but that’s another lesson for another time). To the degree that something is out of your control, you cannot provide the leadership necessary to change it.
But there is a difference between being in control and being controlling. The subtleties can only initially be distinguished in your heart.
5. The lure of worship.
When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!” Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died.
Recognition and honor. Applause and attention. No matter how strong you are as a leader, these things will tempt you.
We may not like to call it “idol worship,” but anytime we bask in our own glory we are making ourselves to be a golden calf before God’s people.
It comes naturally. We inherited this desire to be worshiped from our father, Adam, who ate of the fruit because he believed it would make him to “be like God.”
In fact, this desire to be worshiped actually came from our other “father” – the devil. Lucifer’s fall from leadership was the result of his desire to be “like the Most High God.”
Guard your heart, young leader. There is an addiction to attention. And there is a lure to leadership.