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Why do people change when they have authority?


Why do people change when they have authority?óDisappointed, 15, MI

Shayna Answers:

Dear Disappointed,
Thankfully this tendency is not characteristic of all leaders. Yet it’s true that when some people acquire more authority or influence, they change—and usually not for the better. There are many reasons for this. However, negative changes in behavior usually boil down to simply not knowing how to handle increased fame, wealth, or followers. Usually it’s the power that comes with authority—not the position itself—that changes people.
We all do, but leaders especially have a special duty to consider the needs of others above their own, as Phillipians 2:3, 4 says. And in Luke 17:1-3 Jesus warns leaders not to lead others astray by their actions.
Because of our sinful natures, pride often follows on the heels of power. Usually the more power a person has, the less likely they are to feel the need to depend on God. Let’s face it: having authority puts all of us at risk of becoming cocky, selfish, and oblivious to other people’s needs.
Sometimes, though, even before a person has a position of authority, they may be deceitful. This is why 1 John 3:7, 8 warns us not to let anyone lead us astray. It also tells us how to recognize good leaders from bad ones: “He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. He who does what is sinful is of the devil.”
Second Peter 2:1-3 tells us there will be “false prophets.” And in Matthew  7:15-23 Jesus explains that not everyone who claims they are doing God’s work is genuine. In these cases, a person may intend to be deceptive and hurtful, and their actions aren’t fully revealed until they start acquiring more authority.
Matthew 28:18-20 says that God gave “all authority in heaven and on earth” to Jesus. He, in turn, uses this power to help us honor His challenge to make disciples of all nations. We are called to be leaders and examples, simply because of the truth we have. We sin when we abuse Jesus’ power through our attitude, the motive of our heart, and our negative influence (1 Corinthians 8:9).
How do you deal with someone who’s changed because of their authority? Be patient and don’t allow them to demean your self-worth. Often people who exploit others have at some point felt vulnerable or have been mistreated. Because of their own emotional or psychological issues, they use their power to hurt others.
Pray for these leaders, even when it’s difficult. Asking the Holy Spirit to deal with their heart will be more effective than anything you can do with your own power. It will also remind you that God sees you through the worst of situations.
Remember, God gives people authority (Romans 13:1), and He also takes it away.

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