Rick Warren on the 3 Privileges & Temptations of Leadership

Do you think it’s easier handling success or failure?  Thomas Caryle once said, “For every one hundred people who can handle adversity there is only one who can handle prosperity.”  I think most people can’t handle being at the top.  It changes them.  In fact, success destroys some people. There are several legitimate benefits of being in leadership.

  • Position — you can become more
  • Power — you can do more
  • Privilege — you can have more

The extra effort and work you put in get you more position, more power and more privilege.  With each one of these comes a very great temptation that can be your downfall as a leader if you misuse it.  I Cor. 10:12 “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

We’re going to look at the temptations of leadership, an appropriate thing if you read the newspaper.  The three greatest nations of the world often face turmoil because of the abuses of leadership. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Today we’re going to look at the temptations of leadership and the antidote.

1.  You will be tempted to misuse your position. 

Have you ever seen anyone get a promotion at work and they suddenly become a little dictator?  It changes them.  They’re a nice guy until they get the promotion.  Then all of a sudden they start treating everybody demeaningly, derogatorily, making excessive demands on people.  Unrealistic demands demoralize people.

Pastors are elders and overseers, and the shepherding of the church is in our hands. But this is not an excuse to abuse the influence granted to us and to exploit people. In fact, the Bible is clear that the church’s shepherd-leaders will be judged far more harshly because of their potential to influence people to move toward Christ or away from Him.

2.  You will be tempted to abuse your power.

You can be a driver or a motivator. Drivers have no appreciation for the people they oversee while motivators are constantly finding ways to empower the people around them. Your role as a Pastor isn’t to hold people down and have them to serve your needs, but to elevate them and equip them to serve Jesus and change the world. In other words, the power God gave you as a leaders isn’t for you, it’s for others.

3.  You will be tempted to profit from your privileges. 

When The Purpose Driven Life went global, two things came into our lives that we never expected – a new global influence and a new financial affluence. Kay and I had to make a decision about what we would do with those resources. We decided to start reverse-tithing. We started giving away 90% of the income we were receiving and living off the other 10%, and I stopped taking a salary. I’m Saddleback’s busiest volunteer!

When you decide to profit from the privileges of your leadership, you give people a reason to question your motives. That doesn’t mean Pastors can’t be compensated in a generous way. It simply means that we have to check the motives of our heart as leaders to avoid any question about why we’re doing what we’re doing.

Coming soon, I want to talk about three ways to keep your integrity as a leader. Until then, beware of these three temptations of leadership.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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