Temptations become even more difficult to resist when I don't recognize them. Oh, sure, I can spot bank robbery and adultery and murder. But certain evils fly in under my spiritual radar because they don't look evil; they look like something good. It takes spiritual discernment to realize that something I eagerly want and pursue may actually destroy or weaken me and my ministry.
The late Henri Nouwen names three such temptations in his insightful book, In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership:
1. The temptation to be relevant.
2. The temptation to be popular by doing something remarkable.
3. The temptation to be powerful in your leadership, to lead rather than be led.
This week you and I probably will be sent brochures promoting conferences that will help us and our churches do precisely this: become relevant, do something remarkable, and lead boldly. Such conferences offer many helpful insights, and I've benefited from some. But pause and reflect on the fact that Jesus regularly ...1