Almost everywhere we turn, in any profession, the trust of leadership is on the decline. Research shows that only 49% of employees trust senior management and only 28% believe CEOs are a credible source of information. Nursing was the most trusted profession as rated by 82% of people as highly trustworthy whereas Congressmen were at the bottom of the list; only 8% of Americans believed their leaders in Washington are trustworthy. The Gallup survey also found that Americans’ rating of the honesty and ethics of the clergy has fallen below 50 percent for the first time since 1977.
This speaks to the most alarming place where corruption is seen today: church and religious institutions. This is especially predominant in Charismatic and Pentecostal circles that are often driven by flamboyant, charismatic personalities. When such individuals achieve a certain level of fame marked by large crowds and big offerings, their “spiritual authority” turns into celebrity fame and they use their influence, not to serve the faithful but to enrich themselves.
Ephesians 4:11 teaches that the offices of apostle, prophet, evangelist and teacher are positions of spiritual authority. Leaders in these positions, who use that authority to manipulate followers for the purpose of enriching themselves have violated their trust and are corrupt. It could be a pastor in New York, an evangelist in the United Kingdom or a prophet in East Africa, any leader who enriches himself from the suffering or sacrifice of those he is supposed to be serving is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He’s not there to empower, he’s there to devour, and that is corrupt.
Too often, we’ve seen these preachers take advantage of crowds of people ranging from poor and illiterate to powerful and successful by promising God’s blessings of wealth in return for generous offerings. Many of these spiritual leaders have little or no formal religious training, except for what they see on “Church TV,” and are known to resort to tricks, gimmicks and outright deception to demonstrate their “special anointing” and touch from God.
Sadly, because of this many church leaders are at a disadvantage. They are assumed to lack integrity and seek for personal gain. What is a leader to do? The answer, although not always easy or comfortable, is quite simple. Any leader who wants credibility needs to have accountability.
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