Years ago I met with a staff member for the purpose of reading said staff member the riot act. I needed this staff member to substantially change how he or she was doing the business of ministry in our church. Fear caused me to negotiate my message down to one that was less direct, less drastic, and essentially fruitless and ineffective. After the conversation, they likely walked away thinking that I was proud of them and that I hoped they would have a nice day.
Now, some who know me might read this and think – “Aha! I know who he is talking about!” I’m not worried about it. They would have to guess which one. Like this only happened with one person?! I should be so good.
While prepping for a message I was so liquored up in my office I was almost frothing at the mouth rehearsing my lines! I had scripture, the Holy Spirit, a backbone, conviction, and a God-ordained calling on my side! I would be ready to share this message with all the vim and verve I could muster the coming Sunday morning.
The more I thought about it, the people I would speak to, and the closer Sunday morning came, fear caused me to negotiate on some of the wording, and on the severity of my convictions. Fear negotiated away some of my bluntness and produced a more circuitous route for my words to take.
Thinking ahead about our elder meeting, I began to lay out on a legal pad a vision for our ministry. It was grand, and great. I was going for broke – no half measures this year. Our ministry would gain more ground and score more points than we ever had before. The elders needed to see leadership and vision, courage and direction.
As they began questioning my proposals and expressing doubt about my ideas, fear negotiated away my remaining thoughts, and I tossed out over half of my plans before even sharing them. Fear of opposition, rejection, and abandonment crept into my soul and negotiated with my wiser self – forcing me to retreat, call it a night, and recommit to try again later… a lot later!
Fear is the great negotiator. It strips us of leadership and value. It puts us in the middle of Mediocreville, of Almoston. We get just far enough to stay in our seat, just enough down the road to say we’ve moved forward. But no more. Not enough to claim victory. Not enough even for a first down. Sooner or later, fear causes us to punt, and to give away the ball.
Hey pastor, pssst – yeah, you! Hey mister. Hey Lady. Yeah, I’m talking to you. I know you. I am you. Been there. Done that. And I even know the verses. So do you. You could finish them…
We all know these verses on fear, and many, many more! We know them. Yet we still shepherd, lead, feed, and operate by fear. Some of us all the time, others of us more than we care to admit, and for others we have forgotten what it’s like to operate out of anything but fear.
I HAVE AN IDEA
I have an idea. Want to hear it? Can I admit I preach it to myself too?! Well, I do. I might as well be honest about it. But here’s my idea.
I think we choose fear because we’ve forgotten we can do all of those same things by faith. Faith, not fear. By faith we walk next to God. By fear, he leaves us behind because we stop, afraid to advance, then in our aloneness we have only one fuel to run on – fear.
What if we commit our plans to the LORD, and move forward with Him. What if we simply chose to move ahead by faith, or not at all. We move ahead with God, or we don’t move ahead at all.
LET'S CHANGE THOSE PREVIOUS THREE SCENARIOS
So I arrange with God what I need to say to the staff member, and then walk with God, hand in hand into the room, and in love deliver the goods, trusting God with the outcome.
So I decide my message plan on my knees, asking for wisdom, mercy, and grace to deliver his words through me. I trust in his power, and go for broke with God, trusting Him with the outcome.
So, finally, I do my homework on the front end of the elder meeting, with God, (and perhaps a few wisely planned meetings before the meeting) asking for his wisdom and his heart – then I proceed forward in confidence (in God, not me) asking God to give me wisdom and perhaps move the hearts of my elders.
WHO OR WHAT ARE WE TRUSTING IN?
Pastors, when it comes to our leadership, we either lead from fear (relying on ourselves and our own resources) or we lead from faith (relying on God, his power and his wisdom). Pick one and run with it this week. Hey, it can’t hurt, can it? Not going to get any worse, right?
Been leading from fear? How’s that working for ya? Fear is the great negotiator – giving away all the good we’ve managed to scrape together. Choose faith – it’s the great facilitator – allowing your (plural, you and God) plans to move forward.
If you are the pastor of a 200church, you especially need faith over fear! Lead, live, and love by faith, not fear. Negotiate that!
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