Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Third Temptation

The third temptation facing leaders parallels Jesus' third temptation - the temptation of power. When Eve was tempted, it was fundamentally about power - the power of knowledge. Almost every division in the history of the church has been about power - who had the power to decide or control. Even among well-intentioned, God-fearing elderships issues are often settled by the most powerful persuader or the one who is able to align the majority.

Nouwen responds to the question of why the temptation of power is so difficult to resist with the following:

Maybe it is that power offers an easy substitute for love. It is easier to be God than to love God, easier to control people than to love people, easier to own life than to love life. Jesus asks 'Do you love me?' We ask 'Can we sit at your right hand and your left hand in your kingdom?'...The long painful history of the church is the history of people ever and again tempted to choose power over love, control over the cross, being a leader over being led."

Leaders must constantly be aware of and guard against falling to the same temptations that Jesus faced in the desert - the temptation to be relevant, the temptation to be popular, and the temptation to be powerful.

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