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1. Faith pleases God.
- The writer of Hebrews begins the chapter by reminding us that God commended the ancients for their faith (v 2). He emphasizes that idea with, Without faith it is impossible to please God(v 6). If we want our leadership to please God, we must exercise true faith and trust in Him.
2. Faith does not eliminate uncertainty or discomfort.
- Verse 7 recounts God’s command to Noah to build an ark. Up to this point Noah had probably never seen rain. Yet, he exercised faith when he built a giant boat on dry land. Verse 8 tells us that God told Abraham to go to a place he had never visited before nor even seen. Yet, he obeyed in faith. Both of these biblical characters faced great uncertainty, yet showed great faith.
- In fact, when we exercise faith (take a step into uncertainty) we actually may feel a bit fearful or anxious because our brains don’t like uncertainty. When we face uncertainty the fear centers of our brains cause specific hormones to enter our blood stream and certain neurotransmitters to increase in our brain which creates anxiety and even fear. So, a step of faith as a leader may initially cause us emotional discomfort. It’s normal. It’s a biological process we can’t avoid. Feeling such emotions doesn’t necessarily reflect lack of faith.
3. Faith takes the long view.
- When God told Abraham to go to a new land, he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God(v 10). The secret of Abraham’s patience was his hope in the ultimate fulfillment of the promise of God. His ultimate Promised Land was heaven, just as ours is.
- Even in verse 13 the writer of Hebrews tells us that these faith heroes were still living by faith when they died and that They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance(v 13). Leadership requires that we take the long view of ministry, not rating our ministry success by the inevitable short-term setbacks.
4. Faith confronts the impossible.
- In verse 11 we read about God’s promise to Abraham that he and Sarah would have a son, although he was 99 and she was 90. Such a pregnancy at their age seemed humanly impossible. How did Abraham reconcile that? I love what Kent Hughes says.
- “He weighed medical probabilities of them having a child at such an old age (humanly impossible) with the divine impossibility of God being able to break His word and decided that since God is God, this would not be impossible.”
- He goes on to make this insightful point. “We are not to indulge in fideism ‒ faith without reason ‒ or rationalism ‒ reason without faith. We are to rationally assess all of life. We are to live reasonably. When we are aware that God’s Word says thus-and-so, we are to rationally assess it, [believe God at His Word, and obey] my notation.”
- Sometimes ministry challenges seem impossible to hurdle. Faith gives us the courage, however, to confront those impossible challenges.
5. Faith requires sacrifice.
- In verses 17-19 God asks Abraham to do the incredible, to sacrifice his promised son. Abraham had never seen a resurrection but reasoned that God must be able to raise him from the dead. Unknown to Abraham, God had other plans all along (He had prepared another sacrifice). But his faith prompted him to act sacrificially. Healthy leaders recognize that leadership often requires great sacrifice.
6. Faith enables perseverance.
- In verses 32-35 Hebrews lists the incredible successes of several biblical heroes who exercised faith. By human standards the heroes in this list were true winners.
- Fortunately the writer doesn’t end this chapter there. He pivots to a new list, a list of those who also exercised great faith but experienced horrible difficulties. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised(v 39).
- Sometimes we lead at our best yet see little or no progress, experience great heartache, and feel like giving up. During those times, perhaps the supreme mark of genuine faith is our courage in the face of such difficulties.
Every leader must lead with great faith. Those who have gone before us model what it means to lead with such faith.
What have you learned about faith and leadership?