Having just read through the familiar story of Samson (Judges 13-16) I was once more struck by how you can have power without character. Again and again, Samson does tremendous things, powerful things and yet throughout he is characterized by presumption, pride, lust, violence and a vengeful spirit. The Spirit of the LORD comes upon him and yet he is at last trapped by his own sin and foolishness, dying tragically. He is, above all, a man of great strength who is profoundly weak in godliness. I'm reminded by something that Jonathan Edwards said about how there is a difference between the Spirit of God working upon a person and the Spirit working in someone. The Spirit can empower or work through someone without imparting Himself to that person. This is the difference between power and regeneration-sanctification.
Whenever you get talks on leadership they are always about the great heroes/examples from the Bible. But I just wonder whether we need the example of Samson even more - to scare us a bit! The danger of being used by God and experiencing the working of your spiritual gift is that you can think that that power is sanctification. You can start to feel that the work of the Spirit through you is the same as the work of the Spirit in you. There is something very alluring about the praise of people and the feeling that you are impacting people's lives. But what a sad thing it is to win others to Christ and yet lose yourself. Leaders need to be, above all, repenting and praying and seeking the gospel in their own lives. They need to be seeking holiness for themselves before the holiness of others. This is where true greatness lies - in finding oneself in Christ and not in "the ministry." I'm gonna try to hold Samson in front of myself for the next few weeks so that I won't be tempted to go down the wrong path.