The longer a man stays in the ministry and the greater levels of success he enjoys, the more watchful he needs to be.
According to Jesus, God's people need to beware of certain types of spiritual leaders.
"46 Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, 47 who devour widows' houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation" (Luke 20:46-47).
Obviously today's ministerial trappings of success and notoriety are different. But spiritual leaders can still fall into the three big sins Jesus warned against: pride (Luke 20:46), greed (Luke 20:47a), and hypocrisy (Luke 20:47b).
Because of the temptation from the devil and the pull of the world and our flesh, ministries that started well can morph into something dark. What started out godly can become ugly over time.
When spiritual leaders start out, the trappings of success simply aren't there. But when the ministry begins to gain traction, and blogs are being read, phone calls are coming in, text messages pile up, invitations to speak take place, and questions are being asked then spiritual leaders can begin to think of themselves more highly than they ought to think.
So, spiritual leaders, what must we watch out for?
If we allow these temptations to grow, take hold, and define us then we "will receive the greater condemnation" (Luke 20:47c). In his commentary on Luke 20, Matthew Henry called this a "double damnation." It's not that a spiritual leader can lose his salvation. It's that the pride-filled, self-seeking, hypocritical pretender proves that his spirituality never was genuine in the first place.
30 years ago, I heard Chuck Swindoll say that the sins pastors must beware of are the sins of self, sloth, silver, and sex.
Yes, you are a Beloved Child. And, yes, God wants to use you to further His kingdom. Yes, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Yes, you can do exceeding abundantly beyond all that you can ask or think because of the power of God in you. But God doesn't NEED you. Or me.
Take a trip to an ocean or a Great Lake. Stick your foot or your hand in. Make a big splash. Stir up things. Then take your foot or hand away. How much are you missed?
God did His work long before we ever took our first breath. And He will do His work long after we return to dust.
We are not needed. But we all wanted by Him as long as we maintain our humility, our generosity, and our authenticity.
Watch out, my brothers! We spiritual leaders have unique temptations that must be resisted if we're going to be faithful and fruitful in building His kingdom.