A couple of Sundays ago after church, I was talking to my daughter Ava and the topic of Satan came up. She informed me that Satan was the most beautiful of all of God’s creation. She said he was a worship leader in heaven. She even knew what kind of clothes he wore, a robe with sparkling jewels. She claimed he was cast out of heaven because he wanted to take God’s role and steal God’s glory.
I had heard many of these things before; however, I couldn’t remember what I learned about Satan in seminary and he is not typically a subject of study for me. So, I challenged my daughter by asking her the simple question, “Does the Bible teach this or is it legend?” I am not interested in legends about Satan, I want to know truth. My wife chimed in with Isaiah 14 (a popular passage to discuss the fall of Satan), which we read together. After that, I grabbed a basic theology book by Charles Ryrie. As a family we began to talk about what Ryrie said. After that discussion I realized there are great lessons for leaders from the fall of Satan. These are things every leader needs to BEWARE of. These are pitfalls that face every corporate CEO, pastor, teacher, manager, father, husband, politician, parent, church planter, team leader, captain, chief, chef, entrepreneur and the list goes on.
Pitfall #1 – Pride
Ryrie says, “The New Testament pinpoints Satan’s particular sin as arrogance, conceit or being puffed up (1 Tim 3:6). It is likened to the conceit a new convert may have when he is either pushed forward or asserts himself too quickly and begins to take to himself glory that belongs to God.”
When we lack the theological foundation that everything we have and are comes from God (Acts 17:24-27) pride creeps in. If we forget that every good gift is from Him and every breath is from Him, we can easily begin to think we deserve credit for the “good” things that are happening through us and around us. We say things like “I worked hard” or, even worse, we begin to believe that eternal results are based on our talent. This all leads to pride. Pride is the very sin that led to the wisest, most glorious and most talented creature in all of creation (cf. Ezekiel 28) to suffer the greatest fall in history. This is a pitfall that all leaders face.
Pitfall #2 – Personal Profit
Ryrie states that, Ezekiel 28:16 assigns the cause of Satan’s downfall to the abundance of his trade. In other words, Satan used his position for personal profit–to traffic in his own self-promotion.
If you have any kind of position of leadership, you would be wise to ask yourself the question: for whose gain do I do what I do? Is it so that you can bring glory to the One who created you, gave you the talent, opportunity, education, experience and breath that you needed to get to this place? Or is it so you can show people how great you are? Is it for some personal profit? It is not wrong to get paid for your work, but what is the motive behind what you are doing with your position? If it is personal profit, you are walking down a dangerous path with dangerous company.
Pitfall #3: Influence
One of the things that was especially challenging to me as I read Ryrie, was his concluding comments about the weight of what Satan did.
Ryrie states, Satan’s sin was all the more heinous because of the great privileges, intelligence, and position he had. His sin was also more damaging because of the widespread effects of it. It affected other angels (Rev 12:7); it affects all people (Eph 2:2); it positioned him as the ruler of this world (John 16:11); it affects all the nations of the world, for he works to deceive them (Rev 20:3).
Like many of you, I would like to have the greatest impact I can possibly have for God’s kingdom. However, it is sobering to realize that the greater your influence the greater your responsibility.
We can lead, speak, write, perform, or work on behalf of large groups, and all of that is great but BEWARE, the more influence you have the more responsibility you take on. With that in mind, it makes sense why James would warn future teachers of God’s Word that not many should be teachers because teachers will be judged more severely (James 3:1).
I once sat in a class where the professor shared that he kept a list of the names of every person that would be affected if he had an affair. The list included his immediate family, his extended family, his students, his co-workers, and eventually the list grew to people whose names he did not even know. Most of us have far more influence than we realize. Perhaps you could make a similar list. It is a sobering truth that the greater your influence the greater your responsibility. Who would be affected if you fell today because you decided you wanted something God did not intend for you to have?
BEWARE of pride.
BEWARE of how you use your position.
BEWARE of the responsibility you have.
Whether you are leading in your home, your work place, your community or your church you would be wise to beware of the pitfalls that leaders face.