Safeguarding Against the Abuse of Power

abuse of power

Even the noblest of leaders can succumb to the lure of entitlement.

We work hard, often at a lower salary than our efforts should provide. What would be so wrong with accepting the perks the job can provide?

In the recent downfall of Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill we saw some of this illustrated, most in subtle ways.

Things which can be a blessing for working hard at a low salary when the church or non-profit is small, can become expected when it grows larger.

What started as, “Let’s bless the pastors and their wives with a meal, pedicure, or day at the spa” can subtly shift to being an expected perk of the job.

I see this in the organizations I work with. Entitlement is subtle but dangerous. Some of the financial reports coming out on Mars Hill, seem to indicate this drift occurred.

The Bible has an example of this as well.

There is a very strange passage in Leviticus which forbid the priests from eating the fat in the Old Testament sacrifices. “All fat is the Lord’s.” (Lev. 3:16)

This truth reflected in the account of Eli’s wicked sons “plunging the fork into the pot to take the best pieces of meat”, even resorting to violence to take the meat they desired.

Can you imagine today’s pastors violently emptying wallets during the offering? This does not even mention these sons sleeping around with women at the temple. (1 Samuel 2:14, 16, 22)

“All fat is the Lord’s” is a command as protection against entitlement. The fat is what makes the meat taste the best! The priests were prohibited from taking the best cuts of meat for themselves, thinking their role in the nation was more privileged. This is also why they were not allowed to own land.

abuse of power

Rick Warren has stood as a shining example against the tendency to engage in the abuse of power.

Read this excerpt from a Forbes magazine article detailing his tactics against entitlement.

“This mighty man of the cloth is Pastor Rick Warren; a man who, in a world seemingly consumed by greed and material possessions, practices what he preaches in defiance of the temptation to feather his own nest; relying instead on Scripture and time-tested money-management principles to guide his personal and financial life. “I drive a 12-year-old Ford, have lived in the same house for the last 22 years, bought my watch at Wal-Mart, and I don’t own a boat or a jet,” says Warren.

In fact, following the success of his book, A Purpose Driven Life, he stopped taking a salary from his church and even gave back the salary he earned during his first 25 years with Saddleback. “I’ve been a volunteer Pastor for the last 10 years now,” said Warren. “I’m not a professional Pastor, I’m an amateur.”

(Taken from Forbes Magazine – read the whole article HERE)

Billy Graham is another hero who has stayed scandal free for the length of his ministry.

Let’s learn from modern-day and Biblical examples of how to combat the abuse of power in our lives.

Photo credit: valobstruction via photopin cc

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