This is the fourth and final post in a series comparing the Dark Night of the Soul as described by John of the Cross and leadership. The first post examined the sin of Secret Pride in a leader’s life. The second post examined the sin of Leadership Greed. The third post looked at Leadership Gluttony. This post examines the final two sins, Leadership Envy and Sloth.
Sin #4: Envy
The leader who seeks to be praised above all others and is envious of anyone getting credit has fallen into the sin of Leadership Envy. This is a deadly sin for leaders because it makes those they lead and serve into competitors and enemies.
“People who fancy themselves as spiritual are often not pleased to hear about the spiritual growth of others. Their chief concern is to be praised themselves.” – John of the Cross
Envy is a huge time waster. Every moment spent in envy of others is time a leader could be putting to good use in accomplishing the mission. The envious leader does not find joy in celebrating the success of others and contributes to a culture where people begin to sneer instead of cheer for their fellow co-laborers.
The envious leader hurts others and hurts the culture.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
“They are not pleased that such attention is being given to someone else and would prefer to be though of as the most spiritual of all. This is contrary to love, which as Paul says, rejoices in goodness.”
For this reason, God may take the envious leader into a dark night; a time when the joy of leadership is removed replaced with difficulty as a means to remove envy.
Sin #5: Sloth
Leadership sloth occurs when leaders lose they joy and satisfaction of leading.
“Spiritual sloth happens when the pleasure is removed from the spiritual life. Such souls become weary with spiritual exercises because they do not yield any consolation, and thus, they abandon them.”
The sin of sloth in a leader happens when their leadership fails to fulfill a need for significance and accomplishment. Slothful leaders stop leading because they feel there is no sense in leading if they can’t be a recognized, accomplished, applauded, or praised as other leaders.
If they can’t receive the glory, they don’t see the point of leading.
“They begin to lose interest in God for they measure God by themselves and not themselves by God. Such souls are too weak to bear the crosses that are given to us to help us grow, crosses we face in the dark night of the soul.”
The slothful leader only feels comfortable sharing their successes. And once God has called them into the dark night, they no longer find success. Thus, the slothful leader abandons the things that effective leaders do. They become neglectful, apathetic, and lazy.
Antidote: Servant Leadership
The antidote to both of these sins is Servant Leadership.
Servant Leadership is not just about results…it’s about people: their development, growth, potential, hopes and dreams. It forces envious leaders to look outside themselves. It pulls a leader’s focus from them and points it back at God and those they lead. A leader cannot remain envious of people and care for those same people.
Servant Leadership is the antidote to the slothful leader because they will find joy in seeing growth in others. They will begin to measure success in different terms—terms that are less about their own success and more about the success of others. We will take on leadership as a servant.
The only way to serve Jesus is to serve the Body—serve the people.
God takes a leader into a dark night to remove envy and shake them from slothfulness. These sins not only destroy leadership…they destroy the credibility and character of the leader. Servant Leadership is the antidote that God provides to pull the envious and slothful leader out of the dark night.
God uses the dark night to remind leaders of this lesson.