Friday, February 22, 2013

Motivation for Leadership

Leadership photo from
February 22, 2013

"For they loved praise from men more than praise from God." -John 12:43

In our culture celebrity and fame are highly esteemed. With social media, blogging, webcams, self-publishing, YouTube, smartphones, and the like, everyone can be a star. Fifteen minutes of fame has turned into camping out on life’s stage.

William Shakespeare would be proud of what we have become. It has validated what he asserted long ago, “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages” (Brainy Quote).

When it comes to our positions in leadership and our motivations for leading, we should not be overly concerned with the praises of people. Caring too much about what other people think can hinder our mission and keep us from doing what is necessary. Worst of all, our concern to please others and do the popular thing can hinder the Gospel. We should concern ourselves with pleasing and serving God and others. Our job as Christian leaders is to make God famous, not ourselves.

Jesus addressed this in John 12:43 when He talked about how the religious leaders were thinking more about what other people thought about them, rather than thinking about pleasing God. Their motivation for leadership was wrong. The religious leaders were more concerned for receiving the praises of people and not about bringing praises and worship to God. When we seek to serve God and others, He is pleased with our leadership and He gets the glory and the spotlight.

Prayer: God help us to lead well, not as the religious leaders of Jesus' day "For they loved praise from men more than praise from God" (John 12:43). Help us to serve you in humility. Help us to not pursue the empty praises of people, which can inflate our egos, distort our motivations, and hinder our effectiveness. Would we seek you, your glory and your praises in our leadership. Help us to be motivated by your great love in service to you. Amen.


  1. I would submit that good leadership is not about praise at all. It is about effectively accomplishing a mission. If a person feels that the mission can be more effectively accomplished with him/her in a leadership position, he/she should seek or take that position. If the time comes when he/she sees a more effective leadership paradigm in which he/she is not the leader, he/she should step down and support or promote the new leader.

  2. Thanks for your comments Paul! I agree that leadership is about mission accomplishment and I also wonder what Jesus meant when He speaks of "Praise from God." I do not think this is the motivation for mission, but God does praise when the mission is accomplished. The point is that God is to be glorified and made known from the context. . .the religious leaders were not publicly acknowledging Jesus, because they wanted/were concerned about praise from men. This was failure in mission. . .