10 Warning Signs You’re a Power-Hungry Leader

Christian leaders are called to be servant leaders, willing to be last in order to lead (Matt 20:26). Even Christians, though, wrestle with a desire to be powerful and influential. Take a look at your own life, and be aware of these signs that you might be a “power-hungry” leader:

  1. You get jealous when others have information you don’t have. Power hungry leaders want every advantage, including being “in the know” more than others are.
  2. You hire only “yes” men who support your position. That’s one way to protect your power – hire only people who depend on you and look up to you.
  3. You network only with people who can help you gain position and prestige. You know what you’re doing, too, when you make deliberate choices to hang out with the power brokers.
  4. You look for wrong and weakness in people who disagree with you. You feel more powerful, more in charge and in control, when you can tear down – in a Christian way, of course – those who oppose you. 
  5. You speak critically about leaders who hold the positions you want. It’s easy to judge those who are where you want to be. After all, you’re really more qualified for that role, anyway – right?   
  6. You remind people of your pedigree and accomplishments, even in sermons. If you find yourself seldom missing an opportunity to talk about what you’ve done, you might be trying to secure your power.
  7. You’re always thinking about the assumed greener grass in the ministry that is larger than yours. Power hungry people seldom get settled where they are since there’s almost always a ministry with greater size and stronger influence. 
  8. You use your title more than your name. In some circles, titles like “Dr.” carry weight. Power hungry people know what those circles are. 
  9. Your public life is more important to you than your private life. That is, you “shine” in the public while spending little time with God in private.
  10. You place your ministry above your family. Daily, you spend more time trying to climb ladders than hanging out with your family. That’s seeking power at much too high a cost.  

What other warning signs would you add?


  • Ken says:

    Just a couple of comments:

    #2 – I’ve read that General Dwight Eisenhower would never approve a battle plan until he found someone that was ardently opposed to it. Why? Because more often than not, the critic saw some real flaws in the plan.

    #5 – When I was a pastor in Missouri, I served two years as moderator of my association and two years on the state convention Executive Board. If I learned anything through those experiences, I learned that being a “big shot” is NOT what it’s cracked up to be. As a friend of mine put it, it’s a lot of extra work with no extra pay. I’ve yet to see an SBC president who was sorry to give up the position.

  • Chuck Lawless says:

    Good thoughts, Ken. Thanks.

  • docsep says:

    You become bored with the day-to-day needs of your operation and constantly choose to have new visions for what needs to be done next, always stating to others that this is what the Lord wants even at the expense of the programs already in place because they no longer excite you.

  • You are a respecter of persons. Your pastoral care is focused on those “important” to your ministry, while others fall through the cracks.

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