Any venture into leadership is hazardous. The long and well-documented Christian tradition confirms this. Leaders are necessary, but woe to those who become leaders. In leadership, possibilities for sin emerge that previously were inaccessible, possibilities exceedingly difficult to detect, for each comes in the form of a virtue. The unwary will embrace immediately a new "opportunity to serve the Lord," innocent of the reality that they are swallowing bait, which turns, soon or late, into a curse. "Let not many become teachers," warned James, who knew the perils firsthand. The temptations we face in the early years of our faith are, if not easily resisted, at least easily recognized. If I kill a man, I know I have done wrong. If I commit adultery, I have the good sense not to advertise it. If I steal, I make diligent effort not to get found out. The so-called lower sins, the sins of the flesh, are obvious. But the higher sins, the sins of the spirit, are not so easily discerned. Is a certain instance of zeal energetic obedience or human presumption? Is one person's confidence a holy boldness inspired by the Holy Spirit or merely arrogance instigated by an anxious ego? Is this suddenly prominent preacher with a large following a spiritual descendant of Peter with five thousand repentant converts or Aaron indulging his tens of thousands with religious song and dance around the golden calf? It is not easy to tell. Deception is nowhere more common than in religion. Wiser generations than ours did not send men and women into this perilous country without a thorough briefing of the hazards and frequent check-ups along the way. Even then shipwreck was frequent enough. The foolishness of our times is no more apparent than in the naivet6 with which we grant leadership and the innocence in which we rely on leaders' sincerity and motives. The religious leader is the most untrustworthy of leaders; in no other station do we have so many opportunities for pride, covetousness, and lust, and with so many excellent disguises to keep such ignobility from being found out and called to account. …. The congregation (chapter) is the pastor's (staff worker’s) place of ministry: we preach the Word and administer the sacraments, we give pastoral care and administer the community life, we teach and we give spiritual direction. But it is also the place in which we develop virtue, learn to love, advance in hope. By providing us contact with both committed and frustratingly inconstant individuals, the congregation provides the rhythms, the associations, the tasks, the limitations, the temptations - the conditions - for our own growth in Christ.

source: Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson tags: Leadership, Ministry