1. Beware of pride.
There’s a subtle tendency for us to take credit for what God does through us. How pride shows in leadership includes, but isn’t limited to, unwillingness to accept counsel or reproof; ingratitude; complaining; impatience with others; subtly drawing attention to our accomplishments in conversations, and an anemic prayer life. (John Wesley said, “No one who prays, struts.”)
For a sobering case study on the moral erosion pride causes, read 2 Chronicles 26. Ask: What caused Uzziah’s pride? How did pride show in him? What were the consequences? What personal word is the Holy Spirit saying to me through this narrative?
2. Beware of basing our identity on our accomplishments.
What do we rely on for a sense of significance or identity? Often it’s the number of people we lead to Christ; the number of churches we plant on the mission field; the growth in members and budget in our local church, or the number of followers we have on social media.
But our basis for rejoicing and identity must stay rooted not in what we do for Christ, but in what He has done for us. To disciples ecstatic over their ministry success, Jesus said, “Don’t rejoice that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
If we base our identity and importance on our accomplishments, what happens to us when we fail or face a time of barrenness in ministry?
3. Beware of using the Bible primarily as a textbook or Teacher’s Manual.
Like me, do you ever read God’s Word and think, “That will preach!” or “There’s a tweet!” or you start writing notes on a blog idea a passage spawns? Or as a Bible College or seminary student, do you immerse yourself in the Word to complete assignments, yet rarely fuel your own soul with it?
Especially if we’re in vocational ministry, we’re wired to think of ways to communicate biblical insights, and truth often bypasses our hearts. Perhaps early in our preparation process, in relation to the text we plan to teach or preach, we should devote an entire devotional time to it and ask the Lord to speak encouragement or conviction to us.
“Lord, penetrate my heart with these truths before they leave my lips!”
4. Beware of thinking we are indispensable.
A leader who thinks he’s indispensable assumes that other people, his church, or the organization cannot thrive without him. No one would admit to indispensability, but our behaviors expose us.
Why else do we frequently neglect Sabbath rest?
What else explains why we feel guilty taking a long vacation or ministry sabbatical?
What else explains why our devotion to work eclipses other priorities, such as time alone with God, play time with our kids, and investments in our marriage?
One remedy is to drive to a cemetery once a week for a devotional time. The scenery instills proper perspective to our busyness. Look around and you’ll see how the plot to your life’s story ends. (I couldn’t resist that pun.) Besides, cemeteries are filled with indispensable people.
And remember the inconceivable but nail-it-down fact: God existed before we were born, and He will exist after we die.
Which warning did you most need to read today? Why?
What warning for leaders would you add?