…who is self-controlled (Titus 1:8c)
If you are the leader, it is harder to find someone to control you.
Let me put it another way. When we are not the leader, we can be irresponsible and still contribute something to a team. Obviously, if we never show any maturity we will wear people out and they will eventually tell us to hit the road. But to a degree, we can survive reckless behavior because after all…we’re not in charge.
But when you are the leader, unless you have a governing board that evaluates you on a daily basis, it is up to you to control yourself. In fact, one of the most frightening aspects of leadership is that those who follow you will seldom confront or correct you. History is littered with the incredible stories of leaders who inherited thrones, and destroyed generations of hard work by their predecessors because they were inept. And as their empires crumbled around them their subjects had little choice but to stand by and watch it happen, or organize a coup and risk death.
The absolute worst-case scenario is for a leader to use his position of authority to fuel an irresponsible lifestyle. And within this scenario the most likely opportunity for a total disaster is a leader in charge of his own business who is accountable to no one.
In church leadership, we usually do have systems of accountability. Aside from our assumed sense of accountability to God, we have other leaders who are willing to advise and confront us. And most church leaders have others in their lives they look to for perspective and guidance.
On the other hand, there is a down-side to spiritual leadership when it comes to this area of self-control. You might call it the “holy man” clause. People will often put up with a lack of self-control on the part of their spiritual leaders because they figure it isn’t their place to confront someone who is “called by God.” After all, if someone is a servant of the Lord and they cross a line, He will take them out…right?
The bottom line is, no matter where, who or why we lead, when it comes to controlling our words and actions, if we are a leader the best form of discipline is self-control. This doesn’t mean we are on our own. When we participate in accountability relationships, we are practicing self-control. When we spend time in prayer and show godly sorrow for our sins we are asking God to help us control self.
However, as leaders, we can’t afford to forever expect others to hold our lives in check. Leaders must be mature enough to behave with integrity. Only then can they be an anchor for others whose lives are falling apart.
A word of comfort: all good leaders lose control from time to time. But if we take our roles seriously, we won’t expect others to rein us in.
Dear God, help me keep it all together. In Jesus’ name, Amen.