The Sydney Morning Herald's published an article titled "Leaders behaving badly", which listed well publicised international and Australian examples along with anecdotal illustrations. The list includes politicians and business leaders.
The article rightly quotes a number of authorities as to why leaders might behave badly. These are listed as egotistical and narcissist and on the other hand explain how temperance and prudence should be a hallmark of leadership. (www.smh.com.au)
I could have pointed the writer to the Bible where a continual stream of leaders who displayed poor character and terrible decision making. It’s rampant in the Bible.
The Bible is not always forthcoming with the total drama of what took place, rather we are given clear teaching as to the pitfalls of leadership shortcomings and the consequences of leader's actions.
The list of bad decision making by leaders is almost endless in the Bible. Cain took Abel's life. Lamech in Genesis 4 took two wives and the subsequent dramas were endless as they flowed on to the following generations.
Then there is Abraham’s weird ploy to escape incarceration and the theft of his considerable wealth (his herds), tried to convince Pharaoh that his wife was his sister. Moses took up a weapon and slew an Egyptian guard in a vein attempt to have the Israelites freed from slavery. Elijah having won the "fire from heaven" victory on Mount Carmel against the false prophets of Baal, then took off in fear from Queen Jezebel's threat to his life. The list goes on and on.
So why do some leaders go feral? Leadership is a two edged sword. Only leaders recognise the pressure that is upon them from a thousand different directions, some specific, much of it perceived.
Leadership is not to be confused with power. Former Australian Prime Minister the late Bob Hawke once said in one of his insightful statements on leadership, that as Prime Minister, he felt he had less power than at any time previously.
Many a leader has sought a pressure relief valve and for some, it's their family life, for others big fishing, for others it's going feral. And when leaders behave badly, there is a sense in which leaders believe they will get away with it. The above article points out - that many incidents are never reported.
As evidenced from the Bible, leaders going feral is not restricted to the secular world. It’s also in the cloisters of the church and missions. It occurs within all the orbits of human life, such as relationships, theft, money, gossip, false accusations and the like.
Christian leaders lead a tricky existence, for as religious leaders they need to be sure to have a colleague close by and even in ear shot. Ministers today are advised never to counsel a member of the opposite sex alone or with the office door closed. It's simple, but brings credibility.
Christians leaders need to stay alert. It is easy to drop one's guard in social situations and a rival colleague may be in wait for a misjudged or lose comment.
Christian leaders need to be circumspect as it so easy to be friendly and familiar with church staff or mission volunteers. Such familiarity can become very dangerous and misconceptions can become a bushfire within a very short time.
"Circumstance and principle" are the key words for Christian leaders. The principle is that the leader has been placed in a position of trust and responsibility, the circumstance is what occurs in any given situation.
Christian leadership is centred on "earnestly contending for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (Jude verse 3). Herein lies the two edged sword, for such leadership brings with is many diversions.
Yesterday on my email feed came a promotion from Mercer PR (they run the Hillsong conference media and each year our designated young writers receive media passes for Christian Today). Lyall Mercer’s on his ministry media circular heading: “How vulnerable are you to reputational risk”. firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html