Not only is it important to know what qualifies a person for leadership, it is also important to know how to avoid the pitfall of being disqualified from leadership. The one snare that has probably caused the downfall of more leaders than any other hazard is the lack of discipline.
Naturally gifted people sometimes find it hard to maintain self discipline. For instance, the natural musician might perform well without a lot of practice. The naturally gifted singer doesn’t need to practice like the rest of us. The talented athlete might play well without having to work as hard as his teammates. An artist with extraordinary abilities might not have to work very hard to excel. For that very reason, some of the most talented people in the world are the most undisciplined. We often see the shocking evidence of this fact in the life of celebrities and sports heroes.
The apostle Paul often likened the Christian life as an athletic competition, like running a race (Acts 20:24; Galatians 2:2; 5:7; Philippians 2:16; 3:13-14; 2 Timothy 2:5). He was determined to win the race. He did not want to stumble or collapse before reaching the finish line. In I Corinthians 9:24-27 he wrote these words, which offer wonderful insight into the heart of a true leader:
“…. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection…. lest I should become a castaway and be disqualified.”
Self-control is vital to lasting success in any endeavor. Real influential leaders are the ones who devote themselves to personal discipline and make the most of their gifts. Those who lack self-control will invariably fail, and they forfeit the example of integrity so essential to the best kind of spiritual leadership.