‘Greed and ambition…the two sources from which stems the corruption of the whole ministry.’ -John Calvin
This is the second post in a series based off of John of the Cross, the 16th Century Carmelite monk who wrote The Dark Night of the Soul. Leaders, if they are to grow and mature into the leaders God has called them to be will experience their own “dark night” of leadership. In the previous post, I discussed the sin of leadership pride and the antidote of humility.
Sin #2: Greed
All leaders, because they are human, will struggle with greed. The desire for more influence, greater position, for promotion, and elevated status is greedy leadership. Unhappy or discontented with their current leadership calling, many leaders will struggle with the sense that they must do more…that they must be more. This is leadership greed.
It is easy for some leaders to be exalted in the eyes of others.
It is even easier to be exalted in their own eyes.
The feelings that accompany being a leader bring a measure of fulfillment, maybe even pleasure. Leadership greed is connected to the feelings leaders get from being a leader. There is a certain sense of pride, as mentioned in the previous post, which often leads to a place of greed. Leadership brings with it certain status, notoriety, and power. Greed urges us to be even greater leaders and do even greater things.
While the Master preaches the cross too many leaders are dreaming of crowns.
To lead or be a leader is not enough. They want more.
It is a discontentedness of position. They want more.
They begin to seek more and more, but find nothing. They read book after book, but to no effect. They have conversation after conversation, never eating lunch alone, and constantly networking, but to no avail. God has taken them into the “dark night” of leadership. Opportunities dry up. Projects languish. Growth is stagnant.
They will become discontented with what God gives them because they do not experience the consolation they think they deserve. They begin reading many books and performing many acts of piety in an attempt to gain more and more spiritual consolation.~ John of the Cross
Their efforts and schemes to gain more power, influence, position, or status fail at every turn. God is dealing with their heart. Preparing them for something greater…for significance.
The greater they grip their own leadership, the darker the night becomes. The antidote is release. It is only when a leader realizes that their leadership is not their own and is for far greater things than the things that man values; it is only then that God begins to draw them out of the “dark night.”
Leaders come through the “dark night” realizing that their leadership is not their own. The poor leader knows only rushing and taking. The wise leader learns releasing, waiting, and receiving. Jesus’ burden is light. His Glory must come before our own. Leaders who only minister out of their own strength will try each day to get stronger on their own instead of deepening their dependence on Jesus.
Leadership pride is a heavy and unyielding burden for a leader to bear
God uses the “dark night” to teach us to set it down and pick up His cross.
They will have all pleasure taken away so that the soul may be purified. For a soul will never grow until it is able to let go of the tight grasp it has on God. ~ John of the Cross
A leader will not grow while they have tight grasp on the idea that being a leader is about getting something…about power, prestige, status, position, fame, or glory.
Leaders take ownership of their leadership when they decide that their leadership
is owned for those they serve…when they release it to God
God must often take leadership away or withhold greater leadership until that lesson is learned. A greedy leader seeks advancement so that they might be master of a kingdom. But through a “dark night” a spiritual leaders seeks to serve the Master and advance His Kingdom. There are some lessons that can only be learned from God taking away what it is you think you most seek. This is the “dark night” of leadership.
The price of leadership…the true cost of leadership… is your self-interest.
Through the “dark night” of leadership, God helps a leaders set aside greed and pay the price of leadership. Once that is paid, significance awaits. And that is true significance.