I have an odd fascination with late 20th century history. If you ask my wife she will tell you that at times I can be obsessively nostalgic. It just so happens that a lot of that nostalgia is from the 80s and 90s, the decades in which I was born and lived most of my life. One part of 80s and 90s history that sticks with me is the televangelist leaders that got caught in scandals. There is a long list, but perhaps Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker stick out the most. I only know a little about the history, but it seems like their show PTL took off and they gathered a following rapidly. This show was their joint ministry together. Undoubtedly Jim Bakker had men who he was leading in the ministry and Tammy Faye had women she was leading. Eventually the whole ministry crumbled and the Bakker’s were left disgraced by all kinds of scandal. When I read about cases like this (which, by the way, there are tons of them) I wonder how so many people can get caught up in the hoopla and not be able to distinguish a bad leader from a good leader.
We can obviously discern leaders by how they handle money and their moral choices, but I think one of the biggest temptations for us as we look to leaders is being attracted by outward appearances. Every Christian group has something external that they can be attracted to. When we see a Jim Bakker or a Jimmy Swaggart we can scoff and think “how could anyone ever follow a leader as tacky and cheesy as that?”, but as good reformed-type Christians we have our own outward attractions. We may be attracted to someone who is a good orator, someone that is skillful and eloquent in their speech. The problem is that if we choose our leaders according to an outward appearance than we are not in line with how God looks at people. It is hard to go against the sinful desire to be attracted by the outside only, but we must look to leaders who have a heart for the Lord. It may mean that someone is ‘boring’, but the Lord will ultimately use those who walk closely with him.
When we look back to the ministry of a Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker for all the hype and momentum there is nothing really left. Even though initially a godly leader may not be flashy or attractive in the worldly sense let us be thankful that God has put leaders over us who have given their hearts to Him. As we approach worship on Sunday we can pray that God would shape our hearts and give us eyes to look to leaders who have a heart for the Lord and His ministry.
Scripture: 1 Samuel 2:11-36
Sermon: Discerning Good Leaders From Bad