Destructive Leadership (Part 2)
Yesterday, we discussed two characteristics of destructive leadership from I Kings 12 by considering Rehoboam and Jeroboam. We noted how 1) destructive leadership disregards the counsel of the wise and, 2) destructive leadership fears losing power and will do whatever it takes to keep it. Let us now continue our examination of destructive leadership qualities, starting in III John.

In his epistle "to the beloved Gaius", the apostle John described a man named Diotrephes "who loves to have the preeminence among them" (III John 9). Because of his desire for dominance, Diotrephes did not recognize the authority of the apostle, and he spoke wickedly of John and others. Additionally, he refused to welcome the brethren and stopped those who wanted to do so, putting them out of the church. Because of his love for preeminence within the church, Diotrephes put himself first, and, if he was not already a leader of the church, he made himself a leader. How truly destructive is the leader who puts himself first! The leader who puts his own interests before the best interests of those he leads will soon find himself leading no one! May the leaders of our current age serve only the best interests of those they lead, and may our leaders submit humbly to those who have authority over them.

In Genesis 33, Jacob is reunited with his brother Esau. When Esau suggested that he lead Jacob's household and herds, Jacob declined saying, "My lord knows that the children are weak, and the flocks and herds which are nursing are with me. And if the men should drive them hard one day, all the flock will die. Please let my lord go on ahead before his servant. I will lead on slowly at a pace which the livestock that go before me, and the children, are able to endure..." (Gen. 33:13,14). Those who are leaders today can learn much from Jacob's simple, respectful objection. Jacob knew that a careful touch was needed to guide those under his charge. He wanted to lead his family, servants, and herds in the right direction and in such a way that would not cause any to stumble, fall away, or perish. Jacob was concerned that Esau or one of Esau's men would "overdrive" (Gen. 33:13 KJV) his people and flocks. Make no mistake friends; leadership that overdrives is destructive leadership. Today's leaders should have the same concern as Jacob and realize that there is a stark difference between leading and driving. After all, how can people follow someone who is behind them, driving them with a whip? It is one thing to challenge and stimulate one's followers to help them grow and develop; it is another thing to crush and break them. Therefore, let those who lead do so gently and compassionately.

This is perhaps one of the most insipid characteristics of destructive leadership. An excellent yet tragic example is found as one examines the life of Eli the priest within the second and third chapters of I Samuel. Although he was a priest, Eli did not provide the leadership he should have for his two sons who "were corrupt" and "did not know the Lord" (I Sam. 2:12). Eli knew about all of the wicked things his sons did to the people of Israel (I Sam. 2:22). Although he did rebuke his sons on occasion (I Sam.2:23-25), he did not do all that he could to correct his sons. Because Eli turned a blind eye toward the wickedness of his sons, he led his household to destruction. Regarding Eli, the Lord told Samuel, "I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them" (I Sam. 3:13). So it is today when leaders have a go-along-to-get-along attitude. Instead of the leader urging others to conform to a higher moral standard, the leader is often the one who conforms to the desires of the crowd or simply remains silent in an attempt to keep peace. However, as Eli and his family discovered, peace achieved in this way is merely the calm before the storm of destruction. May those who lead stand against evil and not yield to it!

Dear friends, while it is important that we examine the characteristics of good, constructive leadership, it is equally important that we consider those qualities that lead to destructive leadership. In your role as a leader (whether it be in the church, the home, or another capacity), do you refuse to heed the counsel of others who may have more wisdom than you? Do you fear losing your leadership role, causing you to do unscrupulous things to maintain it? Do you desire preeminence? Do you overdrive those in your charge? Are you turning a blind eye toward wickedness? If you are, please realize that you are treading a dangerous path and taking others with you.