17 Signs You're an 'Empire Builder,' Not a 'Kingdom Builder'

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Are you looking out for the kingdom or your own personal gain?
Are you looking out for the kingdom or your own personal gain? (Lightstock/Dollar photo club)

10. You have a "top-down" leadership approach and thus struggle to attract strong, successful leaders

Empire builders surround themselves which "yes men" and actually discourage strong, resourceful leaders from working or partnering with them because it does not fit their "top-down" leadership style. Unlike mature leaders who take a "bottom-up" approach—in which they try to lead through consensus with multiple participation of various levels of people taking responsibility in ministry (so that all have ownership in the process)—empire builders surround themselves with leaders of ministries they deem less significant and who want to follow their dictates without meaningful, strategic dialogue.

11. You are driven by self and not led by the Spirit

Your intense need for affirmation because of your insecurity drives your need for success—not the glory of God and work of advancing the kingdom. Thus there is rarely inner peace or rest because you are striving—constantly trying to create a platform and expand your ministry on your own efforts instead of being led by the Lord and letting Him bring the opportunities and open doors.

12. You are an opportunist when other ministries are struggling 

Empire builders make believe they are concerned when other churches or ministries are struggling, but they attempt to maneuver themselves so that they can capitalize on the struggles of other ministries and seize either their property or, more likely, their choicest leaders and key people.

13. Your main goal in life is to build some kind of monument to your success 

Empire builders are obsessed with building bigger and better buildings, and acquiring more and more property—even if they have to go into huge debt. The lower their self-esteem, the bigger they have to build to compensate for their internal lack. Unfortunately, they are often risking the future of their ministry with all this spending and they rarely if ever think about how their successor is going to fill all these buildings and pay off the mortgage! Remember, there is never any real success without a successor!

14. When possible, you will sabotage the influence and ministry of other leaders you deem a threat to your influence 

Recently I reunited with a key leader in another country after almost 12 years of disconnect. I tried numerous times to stay connected but I could never understand why there was some kind of obstruction in the relationship. After speaking for three hours it finally dawned on us that another leader who was jealous of my influence in this country sabotaged our relationship because he wanted to supplant me as the covering of this key leader.

I have also witnessed firsthand when one leader will insinuate lies about another key leader behind their back to try to stop their influence from spreading to other regions. In instances like this we need to speak up and defend the honor of those not present in the room.

15. You tend to copy those you are jealous of in your region 

It is said that when someone copies your ideas it is the highest form of flattery. Empire builders will attempt to replicate and outdo many of the things other key leaders in their region are doing. They may call it something different, but in the end it is essentially the same model but with the attitude to make it bigger and better then anything else in their region.

It is like Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's trying to reinvent themselves to keep up with Starbucks. It is borne out of personal competition and not a pure love for Christ and His kingdom.

16. You are a narcissist in relating to your desires in life 

Ultimately, empire builders are lovers of themselves. Thus they will sacrifice the dreams and lives of others so their own dreams can be fulfilled. They will throw everybody and anybody under the bus to advance their goals or save their own skin!

Their incredible commitment to the ministry is really only a commitment to advance their own ideals and dreams—which is narcissistic in nature, this is unlike the model of Christ who laid down His own life for the sheep. Ezekiel 34 speaks about the judgment God will bring on shepherds who use and abuse the sheep for their own pleasure.

17. You tell people that your church or network is the main key in your city for true revival and transformation

When giving reports about your ministry, you exaggerate the results of your work and utilize self serving testimonies that back up your claim for spiritual dominance in your region. Many pastors I know have told me of prophecies that have come forth alluding to the fact that it is their church that is going to start a revival for the nation or their community—or that revival is going to start in their region and go to the world because their region is the gate to the rest of the country. I am to tired of hearing these prophecies and so-called words from the Lord.

Unfortunately, some prophets are motivated to give these flattering words so they can be invited back to preach because they know that most inexperienced leaders fall prey to prophetic flattery. That being said, empire builders use these words, visions and experiences to back up their claim that their particular church or ministry is "the church" in their region God is going to use so they can garner the loyalties of unsuspecting and naïve sheep and even pastors.

In my experience, most churches with that attitude are judged by God and actually begin to decline until the leaders repent of pride. Although it is possible that revival can come through one church to the whole world (Azusa Street revival in 1906) it is the exception to the rule because community, city and national transformation usually take place when God visits a region or nation and multitudes of churches receive "times of refreshing" all at the same time, resulting in the formation of informal apostolic networks who partner together to continue to perpetuate the advance of the kingdom of God

 

Joseph Mattera is overseeing bishop of Resurrection Church and Christ Covenant Coalition, in Brooklyn, New York, and author of numerous books, including Ruling in the Gates: Preparing the Church to Transform Cities. Follow him on Facebook or visit him online at josephmattera.org.


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