3 Temptations of Leadership, Part 3

In previous posts, I mentioned Henri Nouwen’s book In the Name of Jesus, in which Nouwen used the story of Jesus’ temptation in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11) to show how we as leaders are tempted, and how we must embrace Christ’s attitude of humility and service to others.

I’ve already written about Nouwen’s descriptions of Jesus’ first and second temptations: the temptation to be relevant and the temptation to be spectacular. The third temptation is this: to be powerful. Satan took Jesus to a mountaintop and tempted him to bow down and worship Satan. And in return, he promised to give Jesus power over all the kingdoms of the world.

OK, this one has always confused me. To be honest, I don’t really understand how Jesus would be fooled into thinking Satan’s power was worth coveting. But that theological question aside, let’s talk about the temptation to seek power.

Ooh, this one makes me cringe. At first glance, it’s easy to say that of course we shouldn’t pursue power. Its corruptive power is obvious. Its pursuit has led to all sorts of evil. It’s self-serving, self-blinding, and self-destructive. And yet…God grants power to some. Jesus himself had—and demonstrated—great power. And after all, aren’t many leaders driven to accomplish great things, motivated partially by something that might be called a desire for power?

Perhaps, as with money, possessions, food, and so many other things, it’s about moderation. Perhaps we’re simply called to accept the power God gives us without worshipping, hoarding, or living for it. So how do you handle power responsibly and to the glory of God without pursuing it?

What do you think? When God grants us power, how should we respond?

This blog post first appeared here on Christianity Today’s GiftedForLeadership.com

© 2011 Amy Simpson.