Let’s Do It. Leading in spite of fears
In the early years of the pastorate I’m not sure I knew what fear was. I was a leading machine, or at least I thought I was. Here’s what I mean: As a young pastor my eyes were wide open to the possibilities and my heart was ready to fulfill the calling. I did not see a reason why the church I was leading could not and would not grow.
As the years passed I was surprised to discover that not everyone wants the church to grow. I was and still am shocked that many church members value the bylaws more than the scriptures, in fact they can quote more sections of bylaws than verses of scripture. Many of our churches have people that will die for the past and tradition instead of reaching new followers and securing the churches future.
So, it did not take long before FEAR found it’s way into my heart and into my ability to make decisions. After a few bad business meetings, special called meetings and learning of disgruntled-mumbling members who had “church in the hallways” I developed a fear based leadership style.
Almost every leader I talk to struggles with fear. Fear is not something you can follow. Leading out of fear kills courage, slows progress and disables direction.
Many leaders who are led by fear and are leading out of fear are taking their church in a direction – the wrong direction.
One of the most difficult things about renovation is making decisions to move the church out of death and back into life. The decisions that need to be made are difficult and chances are the pastor before you tried to move the church but was met with resistance. In this case, the church is now solidified in that path. I mean they stood up to the last guy and it worked, so they reason. As the pastor you can clearly see the areas that need life. You are prepared to preach, lead and effect change. You are excited about what could be and you are ready to see the blessings of God – and then fear strikes.
Let’s first determine if you are leading out of fear. You are leading out of fear, if:
…You are sitting on a decision because you fear the talk, the comments and the backlash.
…You can script out how bad it will go versus how much good will come from moving ahead.
…You hesitate in meetings to discuss a new direction, idea, or element of the vision because you don’t want the drama.
…You “lose it.” Fear makes us react in ways that are not pleasant. Fear turns nice guys into angry guys. We become critical, cynical and insecure.
…You exist in your “job” of being a pastor instead of thrive in the calling of being a pastor.
How To Lead In Spite Of Fear
- Re-Discover the hope of your calling.
I don’t know about you but I would have never picked the ministry at the college job fair. As a matter of fact, I picked the Marine Corp. When I am overwhelmed by fear I have to remind myself that I did not choose this – God chose me. If God chose me and God is Sovereign then I am in His hands. It always goes back to the calling.
Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.”
- Have a Funeral for yourself.
As preachers we can quote Luke 9:23 to a lot of people. It also applies to us as well. Fear wants to resurrect the old nature in us. As followers of Christ we have hope. Fear wants to drive out hope by resurrecting a sense of self. Whenever “self” enters the way of leading the church it’s always a disaster. When we deny ourselves we are not allowing fear to bring back the old me into a new day.
- Face Fear and Move Forward
Fear is like a fog, it envelopes your area, distorts vision, slows progress and robs you from seeing all that is around you.
Isaiah 41:10, “Fear not, for I am with you.”
Walking into fear is never as bad as you think it will be. Wow, that sure is easier to write than do. Every “successful” entrepreneur, CEO, Pastor, missionary and Christian I have ever talked to has faced fear head on. Fear is not selective in whom it chooses. Fear chooses everybody. Those who reject fear are liberated from the paralysis of fear. When we choose to act against fear we move ourselves into a place were we can see what fear hides.
In the work of church renovation the enemy does not want you to see clearly. The devil uses fear as a smoke screen. While renovating some things will be foggy but we press on to break free from the fog.
- Be willing to stretch yourself
When we speak of change and growth and growing a church we speak of moving out of our comfort zones, stepping out of the boat, and going boldly where no church has ever gone. This type of speech to the hearer speaks of discomfort. Most people avoid discomfort like the plague. Churches that need renovation are very comfortable. Church is safe, predictable and comfortable. Change will affect that comfort level and this rallies the troops to save the comfort zone.
New is scary. The question is – are you willing? Are you willing to trade short-term discomfort for long term success? Are you willing to: Go, Teach, Baptize?
Are you willing to love God and love others? Are you willing to build a boat, part waters, blow trumpets, and slay giants? Each of those events must have been fearful. Each of those events required men to stretch beyond themselves and lean on God.
- Quite Making Excuses
Moses has forever removed the opportunity for any of us to go before God with excuses.
We either have excuses or results. Here’s the truth, when pressed in life we all find a way to get things done. The question is this; Is the church you pastor a paycheck or a calling? I have found that after years of training pastors it all comes down to excuses. I have diagnosed so many churches for pastors only to give them a plan of action and have them make excuses for not acting on it. Fear makes it easy for us to make excuses. Excuses are trap doors that make it easy for us to exit when we are overwhelmed by fear.
I love God’s response to Moses in Exodus 4:11; “Who has made man’s mouth?…Is it not I the Lord?”
Like my grandmother used to say, “Quit your pouting and start shouting.”
I will confess that I am the first one that needs to read this article. After 23 years of pastoring you would think I would know this. As I said in the beginning, when I was young and eager I wasn’t sure if I knew what fear was. Maybe I need to return to those days when I was sure of my calling, convinced about God and sold out to make a difference.
Let’s do this thing called church! Lead in spite of your fears!