…not pursuing dishonest gain. (Titus 1:7e)
I want to offer a disclaimer before I begin. Sometimes we unwittingly reinforce unfair stereotypes in our effort to teach a truth. Nowhere is this more so than with the subject of leadership.
My grandfather, who is still remembered in his community as a good and decent man, had a long career as a politician (and a tobacco farmer). I still remember him fuming when people tossed out the term “dirty politician” as if it were synonymous with public service. So please join me in being careful what we say about any profession (including the ministry of our Lord). Leaders who lack good morals and ethics really are in the minority. And I like my grandfather, fume when others go for a cheap applause by implicating them.
So why do we hear so much about bad leaders? I believe the answer is both simple and discouraging. Even if 99% of the leaders try to do the right thing (I will accept this % might be a little high, but stick with me), it only takes 1% to undo everyone’s reputation.
Such is the damage done by a minority who pursues dishonest gain.
Maybe I should clarify what is meant by dishonest gain. It is pursued by those who are willing to defraud others for the sake of personal glory, power, or wealth. Some examples would be those who embezzle, lie about their competitors or misrepresent themselves.
What causes someone to cross the line between the honest and dishonest pursuit of success? The answer to this question is varied. Look up “embezzlement” on the Internet and you will also find a lot of articles on the addiction of gambling. Some people seek dishonest gain because they find themselves deeply in debt. Others justify their behavior because they believe they have been mistreated or overlooked by others.
And then, some people are just corrupt to the core. My father used to talk about a man he knew who was so crooked when he died they had to screw him into the ground. I used to laugh at this. Now I want to know who he was so I can go his grave and see if it is true. The older I get the more plausible it seems.
Of course, the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of “dishonest gain” is money. But there are other possibilities. A leader can use his position to profit his business, or gain favors for his friends and loved ones. Sadly, after he gets what he wants, he is often no longer that interested in leading the Lord’s church.
Therefore the motivation of “dishonest gain” in church leadership is dangerous in more than one way. It leads to corruption, but it also stands in the way of sincerely seeking the Lord’s will for His people.
Please, praise your leaders and assume they are always trying to do what is best for your church family. There is a 99% chance they are. But if you are a leader, proceed with caution and always make sure your heart is in the right place. The damage wrought by a misplaced heart can be 100% disastrous.
Dear God, purify my motives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.