Many people don’t realize that there is a hidden enemy deep within us that corrupts our lives and our leadership. There is an ugly selfishness that hides beneath the surface and taints our motives, drives our hearts, shapes our thinking, and pushes our behavior in the wrong direction.

  We are all broken people, and we act badly at times. In a moment of frustration, it can be easy to lash out in some unholy ways. It is common to yell and scream, cuss and swear, punch and kick, or to mock and insult people who offend and annoy us. It can be hard to show restraint in the heat of the moment, and often our poor behavior can get us into a heap of trouble.

  No one has to teach kids how to be mean or throw fits; it’s in their nature, and it’s in ours too. Corrupt and sinful behaviors are the result of a corrupt nature. It’s not pretty, but sinful people sin. Even traditional leadership models acknowledge human nature and the need to confront our dark side.[i] While our corrupt behavior is just a symptom of a corrupt heart and mind, it’s the ugliest and messiest part of our corruption because it’s what people see.


  No one likes to admit it, but we do stupid, mean, and selfish stuff. We sin, mess up, hurt people, act inappropriately, and our behavior can be downright nasty and unacceptable. This outward manifestation of our inward corruption takes on many forms…

  • When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these… (Gal. 5:19-21a, NLT)

  There are many common enemies to all leadership that lurk within us like: greed, envy, lust, power, control, ambition, pride, ego, and selfishness. However, we were made for so much more. Faith-based leadership has the ability to combat these things at the source. Through our faith we can address the problem of corruption within our own hearts, tackle it with the power of God, and find victory over the darkness.

  Leading well means acting well, and that takes a lifetime of self-control, personal discipline, lots of apologies, making better choices, and a resilient faith. Faith-based leaders fight the urge to behave badly and seek to honor God and others with their actions. Leading well means acknowledging our weaknesses and tendency toward corrupt behavior and challenging ourselves and others to a higher standard of personal conduct. To lead well, we must battle the enemy within ourselves and learn how to deal with the corrupt nature within other people.

How does having to battle with your own fallen nature affect how you lead?


Posted: July 2023 • Author: Larry Ely

Excerpt: “Chapter 12- The Enemy Within” from Leadership and Faith: The Art of Leading Well.

© Larry Ely & Daniel Ely. All rights reserved.

[i] Robert Greene, The Laws of Human Nature, Chapter 9 Confront Your Darkside (New York, NY: Viking, Penguin Random House LLC, 2018), 231.