Enjoying the freedom of being good enough

Leading with temptations

In preparing for a message on the temptations Jesus faced in the wilderness (Matthew 4), I came across Phil Yancey’s observation in The Jesus I Never Knew. Yancey notes that Jesus was alone during his stay in the wilderness. There were no eyewitnesses.

So how did Matthew (and Luke) gain access to the recorded conversation between Jesus and Satan?

Apparently Jesus disclosed the experience to his disciples.

This is a remarkable display of transparency on Jesus’ part. Here is the God-man, Lord of the universe, talking about  his most intimate, vulnerable struggles with his followers.

Who among us are comfortable to talk about our temptation with others even in the most general terms. When was the last time you heard anything remotely similar at a church service?

“Please pray for me. I am really being tempted with strong physical appetites, to show off my special rank in God’s kingdom, and the lust for power and control over the whole world.”

I for one can’t remember such a confession. I’m sure I’ve never heard a pastor or church leader make such disclosures.

For Jesus to admit he was tempted in these areas demonstrates extraordinary courage and unconventional leadership. He apparently was comfortable enough in his own skin and in his relationship with his Father to humbly and honestly and freely talk of his unique battles for his soul.

This opens up all kinds of possible conversations.

Specifically, what are the lessons and considerations concerning leadership?

  • What do we do as leaders and pastors with our temptations?
  • How open should we be in discussing them?
  • With whom?
  • What are the potential consequences and outcomes of such transparency?
  • What are the consequences and outcomes of never discussing our temptations?

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4 thoughts on “Leading with temptations

  1. Mike Fry on said:

    Jeff–Very insightful and thought provoking as you always are.

  2. Andy Lovelace on said:

    I think we are challenged in this because it fights against our church culture. Because we function from a platform-based ministry vs. relational ministry there are expectations for the performers to perform, and perform well. I say that not to cast blame on the parishioners because I think ministers have become comfortable with this distanced approach as well. In this arrangement, leaders keep distanced acquaintances who cannot ‘use failures’ against them. Then, when failure rears it’s ugly head (as sin does) our structures ensure that leaders are whisked off of the platform and out of site. As with any man-made organizational structure (referring to our churches not the Church) those in authority rarely put themselves at risk of being out of control and those not authority welcome the lowered expectations knowing that someone else is the standard bearer. Indeed, you raise a challenge to live out unless the leaders live out relational ministry in the context of a people and structure that welcomes them as fellow sojourners.
    Thanks for raising the question Jeff… good stuff.

  3. Thanks Andy. I agree with your observations. Good stuff. I’m encouraged in that I see a shift to a more relational approach. It pains me that we “whisk” leaders off like that. It takes them out of the community context where healing and restoration can only occur. It’s a weird system we’ve created.

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