The leadership in the church is to be selfless (Titus 1:7b), men under authority. They are not men who establish their own authority, will, in God’s church. How audacious it is to think that the flock of God could become the flock of elders. Men who lead by a heavy hand, self-promotion, and sinful selfish ambition do not belong in the leadership but in the world. These men must be reproved by the church or other elders who hear of these antics.
What do you look for in men who are selfish and in leadership? What are the signs that may point to ulterior motives? How will you know? As the Lord said, "You will know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:16). Then, once identified, what should a child of God do about it? Consider:
1) THEY CHANGE THE MEANING OF SCRIPTURE IN ORDER TO SELL (PEDDLE) IT:
2 Corinthians 2:17
17 For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God.
2) THEY PROMOTE SINFUL LIVING BY PRECEPT AND LIFESTYLE:
2 Corinthians 4:2
2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
3) THEY DEMAND ALLEGIANCE TO THEIR WAYS, OFTEN MASKING THAT DEMAND WITH FLATTERY:
26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.
1 Thessalonians 2:5
5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness—
4) THEY DO WHAT THEY DO OFTEN TO PLEASE OTHERS WHO ARE JUST LIKE THEM:
1 Thessalonians 2:6a
6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others
5) THEY BOAST IN THEIR SUPERIOR WISDOM WHILE PARADING A SELF-ABASED LIFESTYLE THAT APPEARS TO EXUDE WISDOM TO THE HEARTS AND MINDS OF THE UNSUSPECTING. THEY EXALT THEIR FALSE HUMILITY AS RIGHTEOUSNESS:
18 Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind,
23 These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and self-abasement and severe treatment of the body, but are of no value against fleshly indulgence.
6) THEY DO NOT LOVE:
41 “I do not receive glory from men;
42 but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.
7) THEY REJECT THE SHAME OF THE CROSS OF JESUS CHRIST. THAT IS TO SAY, THEY REFUSE TO BELIEVE, OR TEACH, THAT THIS LIFE, THIS WORLD, HAS NOTHING TO OFFER YOU AND THAT YOU MUST BE CRUCIFIED TO IT. THEY WOULD RATHER TELL YOU HOW TO ASCEND THE LADDERS OF THIS WORLD IN ORDER TO GET MORE OUT OF IT:
12 Those who desire to make a good showing in the flesh try to compel you to be circumcised, simply so that they will not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.
13 For those who are circumcised do not even keep the Law themselves, but they desire to have you circumcised so that they may boast in your flesh.
8) THEY ARE SNEAKY:
4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…
4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.
9) THEY PREY UPON WEAK WOMEN (AND WEAK MEN). THEY ATTEMPT TO CONVINCE THEM THAT THEY, THE TEACHERS, ARE ACTUALLY THE RIGHT ONES AND THE APPROVED LEADERS ARE THE WRONG ONES:
2 Timothy 3:6–7
6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,
7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
10) THEY OFTEN ARE THE MOST VOCAL, BOASTING OF THEIR SIN, UNWORTHINESS, AND, CONSEQUENTLY, THEIR GREAT LOVE FOR GOD AND HIS LAW:
23 You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God?
In this day, especially with the advent of social media, it seems that these kind of men, and women, are coming out of the woodwork. The beloved ones of God often are not vigilant enough to identify these kinds of people and need to be told what to look for. So, the hope is that this list will at least generate some level of discernment among God’s people so that they are strengthened and maturing into those strong in the "once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints-faith" (Jude 3).
If you identify a leader who has these characteristics, here is what you should do:
1) IF YOU ARE UNDER HIS LEADERSHIP, BE SUBMISSIVE. THAT IS, BE SUBMISSIVE TO GOD, RECOGNIZE THE "CHAIR" OF AUTHORITY GIVEN TO THAT MAN BY GOD AND STICK CLOSE TO THE WORD OF GOD:
1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,
2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;
3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
2) PRAYERFULLY, AFTER SINCERE SELF-EXAMINATION, SEEK OUT THE POSSIBILITY OF HUMBLY GOING TO HIM WITH YOUR VERIFIABLE CONCERNS:
3 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.
1 Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.
3) IF THERE IS NO REPENTANCE, PRIVATELY, FIND OTHER WITNESSES OF THIS MAN’S SINS, AND BRING THEM TO THE MAN, OR, IF NECESSARY, OTHERS IN LEADERSHIP:
1 Timothy 5:19
19 Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses.
4) PROMOTE PEACE IN THE CHURCH:
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
5) WAIT FOR GOD’S WORKING IN THE CHURCH TO EITHER REMOVE THAT LEADER, OR GRANT REPENTANCE:
20 ‘But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.
21 ‘I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.
24 ‘But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.
25 ‘Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.
26 ‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;
27 AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father;
6) AT THE LAST, VERY LAST STRAW, LEAVE THAT CHURCH, AFTER TIME HAS VERIFIED A REFUSAL TO REPENT, REFUSAL TO LOVE, A REFUSAL TO LISTEN. IDENTIFY ANOTHER CHURCH IN THE AREA THAT HAS GODLY MEN IN LEADERSHIP AND GO THERE AND STAY THERE. COMMIT YOURSELF TO GOD IN THAT BODY AND SERVE THERE. MOVE IF NECESSARY. DO NOT CONSIDER NOT ATTENDING A CHURCH AN OPTION:
8 And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God.
9 But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.
10 This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
1 Timothy 5:24–25
24 The sins of some men are quite evident, going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after.
25 Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident, and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed.