One of the things that continues to be problematic in the local church is how difficult it is to change some of the ancillary, let alone fundamental, issues that prevent the church from fulfilling its mission.
The church is often structured in such a way that many people share authority, and therefore decisions require a great deal of (sometimes needless) scrutiny by multiple layers of people who might be affected.
It’s not that I believe in authoritarian power in any way. In fact, I’m much more convinced that the Lord leads the church through gifted people who work together in small but effective groups who have responsibility, accountability and authority to make decisions….
In my prior post, I proposed that leaders cannot rise above the limitations of their character. How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about his character. Crisis doesn’t always mold character, but it certainly does reveal it. And adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. So it takes real courage to have character. Where does this courage come from?
Courage begins with an inner battle. Every test you face as a leader begins within you. The test of courage is not different. All significant battles are waged within one’s self. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. It is having the power to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new territory. Courage is fear that has said its prayers. Courage is doing what you’re afraid to do.
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” Great leaders take a stand when needed. Courage is making things right, not just smoothing them over. Courage deals with principle, not perception. If you don’t have the ability to see when to stand up and the conviction to do it, you’ll never be an effective leader. Your dedication to principle must remain stronger than your desire to appease others….
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that people approach the responsibility of leadership in many different ways. It’s not unlike the way some of us head into the crashing waves of the ocean.
I know that for me, if the water’s warm enough, I head right into the waters and as soon as I know I’m deep enough into the breakers I go head first and just get soaked. My wife Carol, on the other hand, prefers to simply let the water touch her toes, and after a while her ankles, and then eventually her knees and then perhaps 20 minutes later she may go fully under! (From where I see things, hers is the most painful way to experience it and yet, she hasn’t changed in the four decades that I’ve known her!)
I have found people embrace leadership in the same way. There are some that look carefully at the circumstances and then with little prodding make a dramatic leap head first into the opportunity or challenge that’s before them. They don’t care about the initial shock of pain or perceived responsibility, they just want to get on with it and get the job done….
In a recent TED talk, best-selling author Karen Thompson Walker gave an insightful presentation on fear. What stuck in my mind was a simple comparison that she made. She encouraged the audience to think of fear in a new way. She asked them to think of fear as an “amazing act of the imagination.” She asked them to think of fear as nothing more than a story of one potential outcome among many.
I love this! All of us find ourselves in situations where fear rises up within us. But what would happen if you re-imagined the storyline that your fear is trying to convince you of and adopted a different posture? How many outcomes would be changed if you approached each situation from a different starting stance?…