It is required of stewards that they be found faithful. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me.
Anyone who has ever been a leader knows the vulnerability that comes with the position. Whether a schoolteacher, politician, scientist, team captain, or CEO, anyone who attempts to lead others will learn that there is a spotlight on them due to their position and that they are susceptible to misunderstandings and to false accusations.
When Paul described good stewards—leaders—to the Corinthian church, he said nothing of their popularity, giftedness, influence, or even success. No, the real test of this kind of biblical leadership was “that they be found faithful.” Faithfulness was the yardstick and faithfulness was his anchor. Paul was basically saying, I’m not going to allow my life to be carried along on the emotional rollercoaster of undue compliments on the one hand and undue criticism on the other. Only one opinion, one judgment, matters.
Paul recognized that he couldn’t even adequately evaluate the purity of his own motives. He did not judge himself, in the sense of seeing his own self-assessment as accurate. “It is the Lord who judges me,” he knew. He recognized that God was gazing into the very core of his being and that His requirement was faithfulness. This realization allowed him to press forward without being distracted by the adulation of some or the envy and opposition of others.
When you find inept leadership in any organization, you will likely be able to trace the incompetence back to a leader who became less concerned about leading people and more concerned about being liked by them, or who became less concerned about putting others first and more concerned about their own prestige. So, as a result of desperately wanting to be liked by everyone or be honored by everyone, the leader lost the ability to lead anyone meaningfully—to say what must be said or to listen to what must be heard.
Throughout life, if you are always measuring yourself by the approval ratings bestowed by others, you won’t be able to function. Since human knowledge of the facts is always imperfect, compliments and criticism are also always imperfect. So don’t allow yourself to be knocked off balance by premature and imperfect judgments—including your own! It is good and right for you to examine yourself—but, having done so, you must remember that there is only one judgment that ultimately matters. God is looking for faithfulness to His word and His people. Let that be the liberating yardstick of how you conduct yourself as a leader, a parent, a spouse, a friend—a Christian.
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Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg, published by The Good Book Company, thegoodbook.com. Used by Truth For Life with permission. Copyright © 2021, The Good Book Company.