5 warnings about leadership

Why would someone use leadership for self-affirmation and self-advancement?

Consider 5 possible reasons leaders might use leadership for themselves.

Before you consider the 5 warnings

Let me begin by recognizing that strong leaders are easily misunderstood and often wrongly judged as self-seeking and self-promoting. Sometimes these leaders are guilty as charged.

A leader who is unwilling to admit that he sometimes battles this temptation is probably not one you should follow. But be aware that people often wrongly project evil motives on leaders because they feel threatened by them or jealous of them.

I’ve experienced the full spectrum in my role as a leader over the past 30 years. I’ve been both guilty as charged and wrongly accused.

I believe leaders are more vulnerable to selfish motives when they’re younger and more likely to be falsely accused when they’re older and more recognized for their leadership.

Carefully consider 5 possible causes behind misdirected leadership.

1. Desire to make a difference

Good leaders strongly desire to make a significant difference in a world driven by hype and distorted notions of success. Leaders who fall for misguided measures of success could become discouraged and tempted to seek self-validation by fishing for affirmations from those they lead.

2. Feelings of inadequacy

Even the strongest leaders battle feelings of inadequacy. The magnitude of the task can be daunting. Who is equal to such a task? Inadequacy can easily become a basis for self-serving agendas. This is a subtle but dangerous temptation for leaders.

3. Unrealistic diversity and expectations

The pressures of pastoral leadership are complicated by widespread confusion about a pastor’s role. Is a pastor a shepherd who tends a flock or an entrepreneur leading a business and marketing a product? Pastors are expected to be spiritual teachers, overseers, biblical scholars, administrators, CEOs, financial advisors, professional counselors and friends.

If a pastor tries to be effective in all of these areas, insecurity and inadequacy only intensify and possibly result in higher needs for affirmation.

4. Unstable backgrounds

Careful consideration should be given to the potential leader’s upbringing before he is appointed to a leadership role. Relationships with parents form the basis for one’s identity and security and future relationships.

If a man, for example, had a father who continuously degraded him, he will be more vulnerable to using leadership as a means of building self-esteem. In principle, this relates to the prohibition in I Timothy 3:6.

5. Fear of being wrong

No one likes to be wrong, but some people attach their egos to their need to be right. For such people, being right is a matter of identity. Leaders sometimes assume that if they let others see them sweat or find out they’re wrong about something, the people won’t respect their leadership. If you feel you always have to be right, stay away from leadership roles! If you say, “It’s just that I typically end up being right,” Repent!

Insecure leaders threaten team

Leadership roles should not be given to those who evidence insecurity. Insecure people hinder unified team leadership. Insecure people wear their sensitivities on their sleeves, are easily offended and attach their egos to their ideas. They will sacrifice team to promote a self-serving agenda.

How can we protect ourselves from these threats to good leadership?

Steve Cornell

Posted in Church growth, Church Leadership, Elders, Emerging Leaders, Leadership, Life of a pastor, Pastors | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

To young leaders and Christian counselors

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

Allow me to start a conversation.

It would be impossible to adequately prepare a young leader for the many issues encountered in ministry today.

Society in the US has become very complicated — primarily due to the breakdown of the family over the last four decades.

Something must be done to protect new leaders from too much trial and error.

The concern is partly due to the fact that those who aspire to leadership are typically driven by strong desires to help others. Yet when they are unprepared to handle complex issues, they risk hurting those under their care and bringing disrepute on pastoral ministry or even on the gospel itself.

A new pastor should expect to be approached with issues beyond the scope of his preparation.

New leaders must remain postured with enough humility to admit when they do not have adequate answers to complex problems.

The problem arises…

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Compelled by powerful love

Are there people you desire to experience God’s forgiveness and salvation, but deep down inside you doubt they will ever turn to the Lord?

Perhaps you think, “He or she will never believe; He’ll never become a follower of Christ.”

An encouraging story

One of the most unlikely people to turn to Jesus Christ was Saul of Tarsus, (AKA., the apostle Paul).

  • Here was a man who opposed Christians with a militancy comparable to radical Islamic hatred for Jews and westerners.
  • Here was a man who said, “I was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose the name of Jesus…And that is just what I did. I put many Christians in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. Many times I went from one gathering to another to have them punished and I tried to force them to blaspheme. In my obsession against them, I even went to foreign cities to persecute them” (Acts 26:9-11).
  • Here was a man who admitted that he was once “a persecutor and a violent man” (1 Tim. 1:13). Here was a man who called himself “the worst of sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). 

An unlikely follower of Jesus? An unlikely candidate for what he later became? Absolutely! Perhaps, the most unlikely.

He (like all of us) would have remained in darkness and unbelief if it had depended on his will. We cannot and will not turn to God by our own ability or willingness.

A powerful intervention

What will it take to change a heart turned against God? It will require something as powerful as a creative act of God to open our eyes to our great need.

This is the way the apostle Paul described it.

“When the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness makes His light shine in our hearts, (2 Cor. 4:6), He gives us the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ'” (2 Cor. 4:6).

He gives us “the right to become children of God” —“children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12-13).

Unless God works in us …

It is not that God ignores the human will or coerces belief. God transforms our will to lead us to understand our need and turn to him.

Our wills are enslaved to self-serving commitments apart from God’s merciful and active love for us. Even our professed interest in God will be something we manipulate to serve our agendas.

We remain without hope unless God draws us to himself. Unless God forgives, cleanses, redeems, reconciles — saves.

Saul of Tarsus — the violent persecutor — who hated Christians and hated Jesus, later confessed that he was “apprehended by Christ Jesus” and (N.I.V.) “Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Philippians 3:12).

He explained his relationship with God this way: “I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his ‘unlimited patience’ as an example for those who would believe on Him and receive eternal life” (1 Timothy 1:16).

This unlikely candidate (Do you know people like this?) went from hostility toward Jesus to saying, “The life I live in the flesh, I live through faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”(Galatians 2:20)

Compelled by a powerful love

In his words, “… Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all…and therefore all died.” 2 Corinthians 5:14

What is it? Christ’s love—the love of Christ for me (synechein) “holds me in custody” (Phil. 1:23); “exercises restraining control over me”; “compels me”; N.E.B. “leaves us no choice”; “is the controlling factor in my life”

He was captivated by the love of Jesus Christ for himself — for the “worst of sinners.”

And this “love” was not based on a sentimental experience or subjective spiritual feelings. Rather, as he says, with great care: “Christ’s love compels us because we are convinced that one died for all…” “We” — it could be: “I am convinced”—“that one died for all.”

What a change!

Earlier he said, “I was convinced that I ought to do all that was possible to oppose everything associated with Jesus…” (Acts 26:9).

But because of God’s merciful and active love, he now says, “Christ’s love controls my life because I am convinced that His death was a sacrificial act of love for all.”

Can you make the same confession?

Steve Cornell

Posted in Apologetics, Atheism, Atheists, Evangelism, God, God's Heart, Gospel, Salvation, Witness | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Two blonde Jesus loving friends

My daughter-n-law, Bethany, and her good friend Hilary, have been working hard to produce amazing songs that point people to Jesus!

Since it is expensive to produce a CD in a studio, I wanted to share a way you could help to get them closer to their goal.

If you feel led to help, a donation of any amount would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for considering this opportunity!

Please listen to the song and to Bethany and Hillary share the project, simply click here.

Thank you again!

Steve Cornell

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Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

Forgiveness is different from reconciliation.

Start with forgiveness.

  • Jesus clearly warned that God will not forgive our sins if we do not forgive those who sin against us (Matthew 6:14-15Mark 11:25).
  • It’s not that we earn God’s forgiveness by forgiving, but that God expects forgiven people to forgive (Matthew 18:21-35).

Forgiveness happens in the context of one’s relationship with God (apart from contact with an offender). The problem is that people assume that forgiving an offender requires them to offer immediate reconciliation. It doesn’t.


Reconciliation is about restoring broken relationships. And sometimes restoration is a process, especially when trust is deeply broken. Restoration might have to be a slow and lengthy process.

Different from forgiveness

Forgiveness is not conditioned on the response of an offender. Forgiveness happens in the presence of God (Mark 11:25; Romans 12:17-21).

Reconciliation is conditioned on the attitude and…

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Why I am not religious

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

Interior10I do not believe in religion. Religion is a human attempt to find the way to God. It’s an empty and hopeless pursuit of something God already did for us.
The gospel is good news about God’s loving pursuit of sinners who run from Him.

Religion always involves traditions, rituals and laws that are used to try to gain God’s favor. But none of these things will work.

Please don’t confuse religion with God’s plan for our relationship with him.
Opposite of religion
  • “We know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law… For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die” (Galatians 2:16,21).
  • “God saved you by his grace when you…

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The unexpected members of the Kingdom of God

Originally posted on WisdomForLife:

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.”

“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’” (Luke 18:9-13).

Notice the difference 

The proud (he claims superior status)

  • some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else
  • one a Pharisee
  • stood up and prayed about himself (or standing by himself, praying)
  • thanks God for his state of being righteous

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