Following up on that last quote, let’s consider what happens when our talent is ahead of our true character:
“We have enough examples in our history of the level of violence we can perpetrate when we are unrestrained in our power. Yet never, not once, did power corrupt. Yet never, not once, did power corrupt. Power is a tool. It allows us the freedom to be who we truly are. This is why it is critical to pursue integrity rather than power. If you lack integrity, thank God that you are not more powerful. Only God knows the damage you might cause given the opportunity. Resist being promoted to higher authority on the basis of your talent. Though David led with ‘skillful hands,’ his compass was the integrity of his heart. When you are promoted based on your abilities, without regard to the content of your character, it is a disservice both to your subordinates and to you.
Authority and position without the substance to undergird them leaves you vulnerable not only to causing great harm, but to facing great humiliation. How many spiritual leaders have been exposed in the most public formats because their positions were gained through the strength of their talent and not the strength of their character? We do no one a favor when we put abilities over integrity. Integrity cannot be gained by power and authority. Integrity must be gained long before these have been placed in our hands. Jesus lived an obscure life for thirty years preparing for a public ministry that lasted only for three. We need to resist the fast track to public recognition and take instead the long road that leads us on a quest for honor.
When you pursue power and prestige, you cease to purpose character. If your ambition is to be great in the sight of men, you are not pursuing greatness in the sight of God. If you want to be first before God, you cannot push yourself to be first before men. You cannot live for yourself and live for God. Some things, when pulled in combination, will stop you in your tracks.”
—Erwin Raphael McManus, Uprising: A Revolution of the Soul, p. 80.