Leadership Temptation: Using Charisma for Promotion

Jesus resisted the first temptation to use His calling to provide His identity, physical or personal needs. So, the devil brought a second temptation to Jesus as he will to all leaders.

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: “‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Matthew 4:5-7)

This temptation came at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. He had a mission but He was still unknown. He did not yet have followers. The temptation was to do something dramatic that would promote himself and create an immediate following.

All leaders are promoters; they call people to join a mission and that requires sharing the vision and influencing others to follow. Leaders need charisma*—the ability to attract or influence followers. Jesus’ temptation, and ours, is to use leadership charisma to promote the wrong things.

The temptation to use leadership charisma to promote self. The enemy whispers to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…throw yourself down.” What is he saying to Jesus? “Are you really who you say you are? Prove it! Produce a miracle, then others will follow you.” The temptation for Jesus was to use His leadership to promote Himself.

All leaders are tempted to do whatever they can to make themselves look good. Some use God-given supernatural powers. Others use their physical abilities to build their own kingdom. Some use their power of persuasion to get people to follow them. They gain influence by making themselves look good. But servant leaders use their leadership charisma to make others look good! They promote the vision God has given them instead of drawing attention to themselves.

The temptation to use leadership charisma to promote action. The temptation of the enemy was to “throw yourself down.” Behind this was the unstated challenge, “If you’re a leader, do something! Make something happen and people will follow you. People follow results. Show them what you can do!” If Jesus would have jumped off the top of the temple and landed safely on the ground, people would have gladly followed Him as a man of action, a powerful leader! Jesus knew that leadership involves action but the action must be focused on the mission. A jump would promote action but would not result in any benefit for God’s Kingdom.

Leaders act and their actions influence others to follow. They take risks for the cause they are promoting whether that is to advance their business, develop their staff, or build their church. But all leaders are tempted to promote action that builds their own image instead of advancing the cause. They become addicted to action and cannot stop and rest. Action becomes their god. Servant leaders refuse to worship activity; they focus on the mission and act only to move towards the goal.

The temptation to use leadership charisma to promote partial truth. The enemy quoted Scripture and this is the only time his words were true! But Jesus reminded him that “It is also written….” Jesus recognized that partial truth is a lie.

Leaders are tempted to reveal only the part of the truth that makes them look good or that will appeal to the listeners. They build influence by speaking only what will attract followers. Servant leaders refuse to use their charisma to deceive followers. They promote the whole truth no matter what the results.

Jesus didn’t jump! He would use His leadership charisma to promote the right things and He calls all servant leaders to follow His example.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler


*Charisma is the ability to attract the attention and admiration of others, often a trait of personality. Leaders with charisma influence people to follow them.


For further reflection and discussion:

  • In what ways am I tempted as a leader to use my charisma to promote myself? Are there any actions I have taken in the past week that were simply to impress others with my leadership?
  • How am I tempted to show people what I can accomplish so they will follow me? Are there any ways that I am addicted to action and cannot be satisfied with rest?
  • What part of truth am I tempted to not say to my followers? What is my fear and what does it say about the condition of my heart?
  • What things should I be promoting with all the charisma I possess? How can I do this more like Jesus?

Copyright, Global Disciples 2018

Leadership Temptation: Using Calling for Provision

Leaders face temptations like everyone else, but they also face unique temptations because of their leadership gifts, calling and roles. Jesus faced these temptations at the beginning of His leadership journey, and shows all servant leaders how to identify these tests and how to resist them. In the first of three temptations, Matthew records the devil’s request for Jesus to turn stones into bread.

1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:1-4).

The tempter didn’t question Jesus’ ability to make the stones become bread. So what was the test and how does it apply to us as leaders? This was a temptation to use His calling to provide for His needs. Every leader will be tempted to use their leadership calling as provision for their needs in three ways.

The temptation to use leadership calling as provision for personality needs. The devil very cleverly tested Jesus’ identity with the words, “If you are the Son of God…” His temptation was for Jesus to prove His identity by performing a miracle. He tempted Jesus to use His power to prove who He was. But Jesus refused to allow His leadership calling to shape His identity. His identity was already deeply rooted in His relationship with His Father.

It is easy for leaders to find their identity in their calling or role. Leaders often introduce themselves by saying, “I’m the pastor…chairman…or CEO.” Of course, there is nothing wrong with having an identity as a leader. The temptation, however, is to use our leadership role to provide our identity. Servant leaders refuse to allow their role to define who they are.

The temptation to use leadership calling as provision for physical needs. Jesus was hungry and ready for something to eat after 40 days of fasting. Jesus had a legitimate physical need. The temptation for Jesus was to use His power to meet these physical needs. But He responded, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus implies that His calling is to higher things than the physical. He was called to help people find purpose for their lives, a sense of fulfillment, to develop their own gifts and to see the needs of the world as He did. To use His leadership for “bread alone” would have been a great compromise.

All leaders have physical needs for food, money, and housing. These physical needs are legitimate, just as Jesus’ need for food was normal. But the physical needs should not be the focus of our leadership. Servant leaders gratefully accept God’s provision for their physical needs, but focus their leadership on a higher purpose.

The temptation to use leadership calling as provision for personal needs. The temptation to turn the stones into bread was for Jesus to use His calling to serve Himself instead of serving others. He was called to be the Bread of Life and to offer Himself to others, feeding them physically and spiritually. But Jesus refused to allow His leadership to fulfill His own needs, choosing instead to offer Himself for the sake of others.

Leaders are tempted to use their positions to focus on what they get out of the role instead of what they can give to others. Servant leaders follow Jesus’ example and focus on what they can give rather than what they will get. They recognize that leadership is a sacred calling, not a means to physical gain.

Until next time, yours on the journey,

Jon Byler


For further reflection and discussion:

  • In what ways am I tempted to allow my leadership to shape my identity? If I would lose my current position or role, would I still know who I am?
  • In what ways does my leadership role provide for my physical needs? Are there ways that I am tempted to see my calling as primarily to provide for the physical? If so, what is the result in my leadership? What is the ‘higher’ calling of my leadership role?
  • Does my leadership focus more on what I can give or what I will get from the role?

Copyright, Global Disciples 2018.