May 19, 2009

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The Seduction of Leaders Today's ministry leaders face an enormous amount of pressure from all sides. Many times, there is pressure from our superiors to produce more or grow larger churches or ministries. The "bottom line" mentality has crept into the church so that numbers are how we gauge success. Then there are the pressures from the people, our congregation. There are calls on every side to attend to this need or that, complaints that we aren't satisfying their expectations of church and pastor. Parishioners leave out of boredom or the lack of any tangible project. Like Aaron who was pressured by the children of Israel into making a golden calf out of their jewelry, pastors are tempted to pander to the demands of a congregation prone to idolatry. But to make matters worse, there is a pressure from within, a seduction we are often unaware of, that can prove to be far more damaging. It is a voice we may never fully escape because it is our own. We find it difficult not to enjoy the attention, the influence-- the power-- that comes with leadership. This seduction has its roots in that old Eden story. Adam and Eve were drawn by the serpent's promise of becoming God-like. It was suddenly not enough to be with God; they had to be like God. Now, with every crowd's applause and each open door we feel ourselves become more powerful, more God-like, and it becomes harder to resist its appeal. My tutor in this seduction came over my sabbatical as I read Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Though Tolkien insisted he was not trying to write an allegory, the large themes he paints with broad strokes are unmistakable. Nevertheless, to spare myself copious comments from Tolkien junkies, I'll say this is merely...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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