Michael Oh, a Korean trying to reach Japan for Christ, had a thoughtful post at the Desiring God blog this week in which he discussed the importance of purity for church leaders; success is not enough. Check out the whole thing, but I thought that his points about battling sin were helpful:
- We must daily die to pride. I recommend to you C. J. Mahaney’s book Humility. One of his key points is that it’s not a question of whether we have pride or not but what our pride looks like. One subtle and dangerous form of pride that tempts leaders and threatens God’s kingdom work is the pride of thinking that we can actually do ministry apart from intimate relationship, fellowship, and dependence upon Christ. Jesus rebukes the pride in us that we can do anything apart from him (John 15:5). Let us live in desperate dependence upon Christ in our lives and ministries.
- We must confess our sins to God and one another. We, not Satan, should be the ones who expose our sin. James 5:16 reminds us of the power of confession and prayer: “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The greater the “fruit” and growth and public nature of your ministry, the more difficult such confession becomes. Therefore, I urge especially my fellow younger leaders around the world to deal with sin issues. Do this quickly and early. Seek out mentors who will pray for you, listen to you, rebuke you, and encourage you. Allow the Church to be the Church as Christ intended.
- We must diligently guard against two “cardinal sins” of leadership. The first is mistaking giftedness for spiritual maturity. Too many young people have been thrust into leadership and responsibility too quickly and without proper supervision and guidance. Leaders tend to be overly eager to give responsibility and authority to young people because almost every ministry has numerous needs and positions to fill. But giftedness must not be mistaken for maturity. And giftedness alone without spiritual maturity can oftentimes do more long-term damage to a ministry after short-terms “gains” fade away.The second “cardinal sin” of leadership is mistaking “fruitfulness” for holiness. We can often become easily enamored with the shininess and abundance of “fruit.” “Successful” ministry is not measured by numeric indicators. When Christ addresses the seven churches in Revelation, does he commend the larger churches and rebuke the smaller? Does he compare growth rates and highlight numbers? No. Instead, he hits at the heart of character, faith, endurance, compromise, idolatry, and immorality.