The Jealous Leader

Have you ever encountered a Christian leader who was jealous of someone else’s position or prominence? Looking enviously at the way God has blessed another is never a good thing.

If you ever find yourself — as a Christian leader — motivated by envy or a desire to maintain your public persona, there’s a problem. If you’re thinking more about how you compare favorably with some other leader, your motivation is misplaced. If your hope is that people will like you, think you’re a great person, and want to emulate you, you’re already failing as a leader.

That scenario happened in the book of Acts. “But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.” (Acts 5:17-18)

The high priest and his cohort weren’t trying to do the right thing or follow God’s heart. They were acting out of jealousy. The apostles had become more popular as religious leaders than even the high priest. Perhaps every person in the region knew the names of Peter and John, but they struggled with, “What’s the name of the guy who’s the high priest?” We don’t know that for sure, but we do know that the high priest was jealous.

The same thing happened again later in the book of Acts. Paul and Barnabas were at a synagogue in Antioch when the synagogue leaders became jealous. Paul and Barnabas drew an unprecedented crowd at the synagogue. “The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.” (Acts 13:44) And what happened? The Jewish leaders “were filled with jealousy.” (Acts 13:45)

Jealousy — envy of what someone else has or is or does — is never a good motivator. It’s the twin brother of covetousness. It is an ugly, nasty mistress that will take you in a very wrong direction, to places you ultimately don’t want to go.

That’s why the writer of Proverbs tells us, “For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge.” (Proverbs 6:34)

Perhaps you need to examine your own motivation as a Christian leader.

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