Six Telltale Signs Of Phony Leaders
By Bob Russell
Jesus reserved his most stern rebukes for hypocritical, egotistical spiritual leaders. He had little patience with those who used religion to promote their own agendas. Mark 12:38-40 records Jesus’ warning to his disciples not to follow phony religious leaders who crave attention.
According to Christ, some of the telltale signs:
1 They dress to impress: They like to walk around in flowing robes.”
There is no virtue in a spiritual leader looking like an unmade bed when teaching the Bible. But there is something pompous and repulsive when a teacher flaunts his material wealth or scholarly achievements.
2 They encourage adulation: They love to have everyone bow to them as they walk through the markets” (The Living Bible.)
The most authentic leaders may have people who idolize them. Yet it’s a sign of rank egotism when leaders encourage and delight in inappropriate praise.
3 They love status symbols: “They like to have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.”
A good leader will receive occasional perks. Jesus took Peter, James, and John into his inner circle and gave them special opportunities. Paul received granted favor because of his Roman citizenship. But beware of the leader who maneuvers for position and demands honor.
4 They insist on titles. Matthew’s gospel adds, “They love to have men call them Rabbi” (Matthew 23:7).
Spiritual leaders should be treated with respect. But when people introduce themselves as “Doctor,” “Reverend,” “Professor,” “Major,” “President,” or even “Brother,” it should raise a warning flag.
5 They practice duplicity: “They devour widow’s houses.”
A flamboyant lifestyle achieved by exploiting the disadvantaged is a sign that a leader isn’t really following the one who had nowhere to lay his head.
6 They exploit prayer: “And for a show make lengthy prayer.”
Some are more gifted to lead in public prayer than others, but beware the religious leader who uses prayer to impress people.
In his early years of television reporting, Phil Donahue covered a mine disaster in the Appalachian Mountains. There he overheard a country preacher offer a very moving, comforting prayer with an anxious family.
Donahue approached the preacher and asked if he would repeat the prayer so he could get it on film. When the minister refused, Donahue said, “I’m a TV reporter. I represent 260 stations. Millions of people will be able to see you and hear your beautiful prayer.”
The minister again said, “No.”
“Perhaps you don’t understand,” Donahue added. “I’m not representing some local TV station. I’m with CBS. The whole nation will be able to see this.”
The old country preacher repeated, “No,” turned his back and walked away.
Donahue later realized he had witnessed something called “integrity.” He wrote: “The man wouldn’t showbiz for Jesus. He wouldn’t sell his soul for TV, not even for national TV, not even … for CBS!'”
The world respects a leader who is authentic. Christian people should be perceptive enough to discern the difference.
Example Of Grace
I like the way The Message paraphrases Jesus’ words from the Sermon on the Mount: “When you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?”
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God and you will begin to sense his grace.” (Matthew 6:6, The Message).
How graceful are you?
The article “Six Telltale Signs Of Phony Leaders” written by Bob Russell is excerpted from www.livingwordministry.com website.