Over the past few years we have witnessed quite a number of leadership failures within the church. We have learned of pastors who have used their position to enrich themselves, to use their prominence to run roughshod over others, to use their prestige to feed their flesh. Some of these failures have been shocking, some almost expected. Some of these failures have been public, some very quiet. But each of them has, in its own way, been grievous and harmful. Each of them shows that, at times, leadership can go tragically wrong.
Powerful Leaders? is a book about what happens when Christian leadership goes wrong. “Today’s culture has become deeply sensitive to issues of power imbalance, misuse of authority and manipulation,” says Marcus Honeysett, and this puts an increased onus on faithful Christian leaders to ensure they are leading well—and to ensure they are avoiding the snares that seem to have entrapped so many others. “My aim is modest,” he says. “I hope to sketch a map of the slippery slope of power – the path that runs from good intentions, via lack of accountability and transparency, down into manipulation and self-serving, all the way to the most serious abuses – and put up some ‘turn back’ signs.” In other words, he wants to help leaders identify some of the points at which they may prove to go terribly wrong and to turn them back before it’s too late.
Anyone who is in a position of leadership needs to consider whether he is in danger of misusing power and position. That is true whether the position is formal or informal and whether he leads individuals, churches, organizations, or movements. Anyone should humbly consider whether he may be falling for some common traps. And that is exactly what this book is all about.
Any good leader should know and admit that he is not above misusing his position. Any good leader should have the self-awareness to know that he is not above the traps that have ensnared so many of his peers. Any good leader should be willing to evaluate his leadership—and have it evaluated by others—to ensure he is leading in the way God calls him to. And for that reason, I highly recommend this book. “My prayer,” says the author in the afterword, “is that this book has helped you think about biblical, spiritual leadership through the lens of Christ-like servanthood, rather than through a worldly lens of big characters wielding power with their impressive strength, or subtle manipulators wielding power through the warmth of their impressive smiles and personal winsomeness.” It would be a blessing to the church if every leader would read this book and evaluate his leadership by it.