LEADER AND THE ENEMY
By Nelson Thomas Mumbai
Introduction: - Leaders are always target of the enemy. Satan seeks and experiments all the schemes to put them down. 1Peter 5:8; 2 Cor.2:11. Of course any one can be a victim but some devices against those who are in the front line. He knows well that if leaders are fallen the followers will be scattered and demoralized. Zechariah 13:7.
It is our responsibility to be aware of the tactics of our enemy and keep our guard. Do not just assume that I am standing, and I will keep on standing! 1 Corin. 10:12, 13.
Assuming a leadership position is not an easy thing. Cf. Jam.3: 1:- They are strictly judged too!
Definitely, there are many weapons the evil one uses against the Lord’s servants. We will consider only few that are very prevalent.
1. Pride. 1Tim.3: 5, 6. Oldest and most subtle. Spiritual, material, intellectual pride. May be due to the respect and encouragement of people or the authority of office.
Result:--fate of Lucifer! Isaiah. 14:13—14. Be careful in promoting some one out of turn!
1Tim.3: 5, 6. If an individual gets an opportunity to take the role of a leader on a certain occasion, even if because of the compulsion of the circumstances, there are chances, if he is immature, it will inflate him! For the sake of that individual, and the church at large, better not to give such leadership position to immature believers.
Example: - King Uzziah. . 2 Chroni. 26:4, 5, 16 – King Uzziah started as godly, later heart puffed up.
Be humble – even pray as we progress ‘Lord, make me more humble!'
2. Depression. 1King.19:3, 4. If Satan fails to push us ahead, pulls us back! Psa.32:9. Due to some failure- guilty consciousness, fear, doubt, fruitless ministry, burnout, etc -discouraged, unbelief.
Devil will prepare such circumstances that will some how take away our confidence and strength. Tempt us to commit a mistake to feel guilty about it. Or he may bring to our memory something that has already been settled before the Lord.
Result: - Paralyzed - programs stopped - people suffer.
Example: - Joshua 7:7; Elijah- 1King 19:3, 4, 6 (17:1; 18:38, 40); John the Baptist- Mt.11: 2—6. Notice- the Lord did not accuse them! But counseled, strengthened them and even used them again .Joshua-to conquer the land and Elijah in further service.
Cf. Isaiah. 35:4—6; 50:10, 11. Lord wants to encourage us. He will not leave us in a disheartened state.
3. Anger. Exo.32: 19; Num.20:11: -because of perfectionism or inferiority complex (hurting their ego).
Result: - Anger takes away our common sense, reasoning capacity. Wrong words or actions. Some might try to keep quite but they will burst out in an unexpected time.
Example: - Moses (Perfectionism); People caused his anger but lose to whom? (Psa.106:32, 33) Saul. Samuel. 18:8 (Inferiority complex), Jonah 4:9 (hurt ego / self-will)
Accept reality. Each one is different, individually we are nothing and God overrules. It is our need to bear with others. So, stay cool.
4. Lust.Evil desire. 1John 2:16. Desire is not bad but evil if it’s against God’s will. Another subtle weapon enemy can use without difficulty as no body can easily find it out. It is strong in three areas:-
a. For position –Power-Mt.23: 6, 7. Too strong desire— As Pharisees who desired chief seat. Looking for an opportunity to accomplish their purpose!
Result: - forget principles, statutes, willing to do any thing to grab or hold on to a position!
Example: - King Saul 1 Samuel.13:12, 13; Position of priesthood. 18:7, 8 –desired the appreciation of people.
Peter calls himself as servant-co-elder-1Pet. 5:1; 2Pet.1:1; John too-brother! Rev. 1:9. Accept the God-given position / responsibility.
b. For prosperity - money and things. 1Pet.5:2; 1Jn.2:16; 1Tim.3:8 ; (2Tim.3:2); Slowly-money and materials come in our hands-an attachment feels-temptation too. 1 Pet. 5:2
Result: - Speak or do any false teaching for monetary gain. Hard to speak against certain people, forced to support and serve the wealthy. Even desert the Lord or His people.
Example: - 2Kin.5: 22, 23. Gehazi; Judas. Demas. 2 Tim. 4:10 cf. Colo. 4:14.
Be careful in handling finance: Assembly or personal. Public funds must never be handled by one individual. It is better for a full time worker to avoid handling the accounts of the assembly.
Can any body use assembly money, or some other common fund for personal use? Some are very generous in spending public money, if it is personal demand a discount!
Trust the Lord alone for all our needs. All what possess belongs to the Lord. His provision alone is good for us.
c. For women / opposite sex. 1Tim.5: 1, 2 Most serious and tragic yet many neglect / avoid this topic. May be thinking that ‘it will not happen to me!’
It has been reported, in the US one out of ten leave the ministry as a result of such moral failure.
Why? -May be due to more freedom; close dealings with individuals, over-familiarity and intimacy. - Negligence too. Root cause: Being away from close fellowship with the Lord, lost spiritual pulse and perspective. Ob. “With all purity” 1Tim.5: 1, 2 - need spiritual eyes to gauge purity.
Result: - Life and ministry is ruined- of self and other affected individuals. Lord’s name defiled. Saints are ashamed. Heart-breaking as well as Church-breaking episodes unfold.
Example: - Samson. Judges. 14:2, 7, 8; 16:1, 4. Desire for honey & women. Samson did not care about his Nazirite status. He was defiled by the carcass of a lion. Num.6:6. Sins accumulated, reaped what he sowed.
David- man after God’ own heart.1Samuel 13:14; 2 Samuel 11:2; 12:13. – An unexpected sight! How powerful is our look - eye contact! Clinton – Monica incident – one look – what mess created. How much to be careful. ‘Keep safe distance’ –a warning found written behind some vehicles is applicable here!
Never go alone—never take such in! – According to reports, Billy Graham never traveled in car alone with women. Enemy can trap us if we are careless, even with false allegation! So the best -avoid any such circumstances. Not enough - Colo. 3:5 –Mortify – from where lust comes out?
5. Professionalism. Ezek.34: 3. Israel’s shepherds became useless. They do not care or feed the sheep. They feed themselves. Same thing happens even today.
Isaiah 29:13:- “…these people draw near with their mouths and honour Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me. And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”
Ministry becomes a habit - a routine. Works as a profession. A name’s sake ministry. –to fulfill duty, to fill the gap, pass time etc. Of course, started with much concern for the Lord and His people but in the course of time lost that passion.
Result: - Interest, enthusiasm, and warmth gone. –Cold, chilled-no compassion / heart for the people. Heart hardened to human need & sufferings.
Example: - Jonah. 4:11 – Just wants fulfill his duty, no concern or mercy for the people. On the contrary he was angry at God’s mercy.
Maintain spiritual energy. Re-charge battery! Need such conferences, if no other personal efforts taken. Good to hear occasionally to some Godly men to be refreshed and re-energized.
6. Laziness. 2Tim: 4:2. Lack of zeal. Readiness gone. Product of professionalism. Some times perfectionism also ends up in laziness! - Procrastination of various duties to do at a better time in the best manner. But never takes place! ‘If I do I will not do like this’. But he will never do!
Result: - Powerful idea - may be much publicity / talk too, but nothing will materialize! Affects other areas as well, like dress style. Cf. Pro. 18:9 - brother of great destroyer. James 4:17 – It’s sin too, because we are not doing something that we know as a good thing to do.
Example: - Men of seven tribes in possessing their land. Joshua 18:3.
‘kal kare so aaj kar, aaj kare so ab!
‘pal mem parlay hogi, bahuri karega kab’ Kabir .
‘Do tomorrow’s work today, today’s now.’ It is the enemy who whispers ‘do later’. Be ready, not lazy. Romans.12:11; (1 Peter 3:15; 2Tim.2: 15). Good practice to be careful in every small things of life, like study room, table etc.
7. Family problems. 1 Tim.3: 4, 5. If the enemy can not defeat us anywhere else, enemy also targets the allies – dear ones in our warfare. He will do everything possible to attack the family- at least some of the family members, in one way or other. Sad many leaders’ family in trouble-they suffer.
Result:-. No proper care for the family etc. No time to be with them, discipline them. Visiting others-who will visit them! Friction in family, rebellious children etc.
Example: - Family of Eli, Samuel etc.
Neglecting family – unfortunate -the best proof our effectiveness is the condition of our family. It is there we can / should be more influential. ‘Leadership is influence’, if I can not influence my family with whom I stay, I am an utter failure in my ministry or leadership.
We can keep on adding to the list! But need to consider one more particularly.
8. Over-confidence:- None of the above things or even any thing will happen to me!
Result: - So much activity, inflated, arrogance, superiority complex. Then a sudden attack- fallen- lost the ground.
Example:- Peter. Luke. 22: 31, 33, 34, 54—62. He did not notice the warning signs. Mark. 14:32—42. He failed to be careful even after the Lord warned him of Satan’s intentions. When the Lord told him to pray he just slept.
Remember always – it’s by grace and grace alone we are what we are! 1 Corin. 15: 10; Phil.4:13.
Enemy can attack us from any corner, using any trick. It’s not necessary that he use the same for each one. Some times he will attack the very area we hold as dear. Some times he attacks the soft corner, where we don’t care. No alternative but to be on guard, trusting in God’s grace and power.
Some more warning signs
Apart from the warning signals that we can observe from the above examples, there are few more that we can notice as evident before a leader begins to fall. (Taken from an article by Mr. Mark Sanborn- a leadership expert)
i. A shift in focus-– losing sight of the most important goal in life.
ii. Poor communication- people are in dark.
iii. Risk aversion - Fear to move forward taking reasonable risk as earlier.
iv. Ethics slip - Character and competency affected.
v. Poor self management- Carelessness in meeting personal needs- spiritual, physical and mental etc.
vi. Lost love - Lack of motivation that compelled at first.
He says, “it is foolishness ignore these warning signs”. We know it well. Neglecting any warning is costly. Notice the warning signs. It is wise to heed it. Leaders should be aware of the pitfalls and be on guard. Be humble and stay close to Christ. Live on short account with the Lord and keep ourselves fresh spiritually.
At the same time, we must sympathize with the leaders among us. Consider what they face as they stand in the frontline of the battlefield. Encourage them. Know their problems and pray for them. Deal with them little considerately. Never lead such troubled souls to a breakdown.
Conclusion: - Do not be discouraged by seeing the vulnerability. In Christ we are victors. We can be victorious if we hold on to Him. Take up the whole armor He has provided. Cf. Eph. 6:12ff. Make good use of the divine resources. Be on guard, stay close to the Lord. Claim victory in the Lord.
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” Paul in 2 Corinthians. 2:14.
(A study presented at the Maharashtra Assembly Leadership Conference held Khandala from 25 to 29 November, 2009)