Summary: The greatest test of any spiritual leader is the test of temptation. In this final message of the eight part series this sermon examines the keys to overcoming temptation.
LESSONS IN LEADERSHIP – PART EIGHT
“THE TEST OF LEADERSHIP”
©Larry L. Thompson (2003)
“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.  After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.  The tempter came to him and said, "If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread."  Jesus answered, "It is written: ’Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’"  Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple.  "If you are the Son of God," he said, "throw yourself down. For it is written: " ’He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’"  Jesus answered him, "It is also written: ’Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’"  Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  "All this I will give you," he said, "if you will bow down and worship me."  Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ’Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’"  Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.”
Jesus is the ultimate leader. We can learn leadership principles from His life by listening to what He says and by watching what He does. One of the greatest tests a leader will face is the test of temptation. After Jesus was baptized, Matthew tells us that he was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. Today we’ll look at how our Lord, our Leader, faced this time of temptation, and it will show us how we as leaders can also prepare for and pass the Test of Leadership.
Jesus told his leadership team to “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Mark 14:38). Every leader knows that victory comes in meeting the test and victory over temptation comes from being constantly prepared for it, which, in turn, comes from constantly relying on the Lord.
It is said that a person traveling in tiger country will not be attacked if he sees the tiger before the tiger sees him. Generally tigers attack from behind in order to surprise their victims, and therefore one of the best defenses against this TEST of STRENGTH is to face it.
The following insights from the Victory Our Leader had in His time of testing should prove invaluable to every Christian aspiring to leadership in your life. The first lesson in the Test of Leadership is…
1. THE TEST OF TRANSPARENCY (MATT. 4:1-2)
This is an amazing story, offering unique insight into the nature and character of Jesus. For one thing, it’s one of the few stories told about an event in the life of Jesus in which there are no eye witnesses. How did Matthew (or any of Jesus’ disciples) know about the temptation he faced in the desert? There’s only way they could have known. He told him them about it. At some point during his time of ministry on earth, he told his disciples about the time he spent in the desert, battling temptation in a showdown with the devil. The temptation story has been called "the most sacred of stories" because in it we see the transparency of our Savior. "Jesus is laying bare his inmost heart and soul." He shared with his followers about the struggles he faced.
Another aspect of His transparency is seen as this story reminds us that Jesus was truly human. Matthew says,
(v. 2) “After fasting 40 days and nights, he was hungry.”
Matthew’s words give evidence that this story wasn’t just a legend created by the early church, because it emphasizes the transparency and the humanity expressed by Jesus. There has always been a tendency among some followers of Christ to strip away his humanity and make him completely unreal. Songs are written about him containing lines such as “The little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” This is the image some people have of him—he was so divine that he never cried as a child, he never skinned his knee, when he worked as a carpenter he never drove a crooked nail, because He was divine. He just went through life floating around on a little cloud about six feet off the ground. That wasn’t the Jesus of scripture...He was 100% human and experienced everything just like you and me as well as being 100% divine. He became one of us—fully human as well as fully divine. The fact that he was transparent and honest enough to share with the disciples “He was hungry” helps us to identify with the great truth that in His humanity He was able to pass the test of leadership that pointed us to the divine power within his life.