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THE JONAH SYNDROME

When misdirected zeal replaces holy ambition, we embark on a long obedience in the wrong direction.

Any venture into leadership is hazardous. The long and well-documented Christian tradition confirms this. Leaders are necessary, but woe to those who become leaders. In leadership, possibilities for sin emerge that previously were inaccessible, possibilities exceedingly difficult to detect, for each comes in the form of a virtue. The unwary will embrace immediately a new "opportunity to serve the Lord," innocent of the reality that they are swallowing bait, which turns, soon or late, into a curse. "Let not many become teachers," warned James, who knew the perils firsthand.

The temptations we face in the early years of our faith are, if not easily resisted, at least easily recognized. If I kill a man, I know I have done wrong. If I commit adultery, I have the good sense not to advertise it. If I steal, I make diligent effort not to get found out. The so-called lower sins, the sins of the flesh, are obvious.

But the higher sins, the sins of the spirit, are not so easily discerned. Is a certain ...

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