Addiction in Leadership
I live for the rush. I love to push the boundaries, go farther than anyone else has intended, and try something just so that I can say that I've accomplished it. I'm SO thankful that the Holy Spirit called me to focus that 'rush' mentality onto the great commission… to GO!
You see, I'm a second-generation Christian who has a family history with generations of substance abuse and addiction. I know the sins of the fathers. Maybe my rush to do new things is a reaction to stay away from the BIG sins, but in the process, still I stumbled into being addicted to myself.
I recognized my self-addiction as I was going through a fast from coffee. Yeah, I decided that I was going to GIVE UP caffeine to get to know Jesus better… but the withdrawals were horrible! In the process of "going without" I realized that I wasn't doing things for God's glory. No, rather I had been trying to gratify my selfish desires through working for Jesus. I was in trouble.
Here are some addiction symptoms that held my attention in being a workaholic for Jesus:
Continuing in spite of experiencing significant detrimental effects in relationships, education, health, or other areas of our lives.
Frequently using more than we originally intended to use or using it longer than we had originally intended to use it.
A failure to address important obligations as a result of this use.
Continuing to use where it may be physically dangerous to do so, such as driving, using at work, or using while watching small children.
Inability to cut down or stop using even though we have stated that we wish to do so.
The development of tolerance.
The development of withdrawal symptoms.
Addiction isn't JUST for the rebels. It is not limited to the "bad sins" like DRUGS, PORN, and ALCOHOLISM. Christian addiction can be seen in areas such as seeking comfort, insisting on controlling other people, curating an image, performing good works, a propensity for laziness, and the list goes on. I'm not trying to minimize the reality of substance and other addictions here; I'm advocating that we start LOOKING at the reality that we ALL struggle with addictions. And addictions hurt people. They hurt the one who is addicted. And they hurt everyone… their family, their churches, the teens in their ministry, their coworkers.
Please take a moment as a leader and ask yourself: Are you addicted to pleasing yourself? If you answered that question with a "yes," then:
You are addicted to YOU, and it's killing your soul.
Paul challenges the Philippian church to follow the example of Jesus. "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others."
As leaders, we must recognize that we are LEADING God's people. If we aren't stewarding our soul, then we MISS the needs of others because we are focused on ourselves. GENEROSITY vanishes; EVANGELISM evaporates; our role becomes an empty, dutiful list of responsibilities instead of spirit led obedience.
In 2 Chronicles 36, the author makes note of the weight of the responsibility of leadership. Verse 14-15 says, "All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem. The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place."
Getting my eyes off of myself isn't simply important as spiritual leaders. It is absolutely NECESSARY! 2 Chronicles 36 reminds me of God's persistent pursuit of His leaders to realign to His purposes. The passage ends with one of the most gut-wrenching statements in scripture, "But they [the spiritual leaders] kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy." That's pretty serious…
Are you showing symptoms of addiction? Don't dismiss small areas of addictive behavior. Get serious about them today. Let's be known as the generation of leaders that pushed the gospel into all the world. Let's heed the warning given to the Israelites and avoid becoming "exceedingly unfaithful". Our God, our churches, our families are worth that effort.
I want to be remembered as a leader who consistently showed the love of Jesus and obeyed the still small voice of God, not a pastor-dude who was captured by a hobby.
Wayne is the Northeast Coordinator for NNYM and is a tall, skinny, white, guy who loves Jesus. His mission is to encourage and support people to follow Jesus better. Blog originally posted on nnym.org/blog