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Targeted and Under Fire
As a Christian leader at any time in history, but perhaps particularly in the day and age in which we now live, you are under fire. Assuming you’ve been leading for more than five minutes, it follows that you’ll already be aware that the most elementary leadership meme you could ever learn (and pass on) is that “when you step up to lead you become a target for the enemy.”
But regardless of how long you’ve been leading, however mature and seasoned you may be, there will be times when you will be more acutely aware of the high-risk nature of your vocation and, by contrast, others when you’ll be genuinely convinced that you’ve already died and gone to heaven.
Leadership can be a struggle and leadership can also be bliss but Spirit-led leadership will never be easy.
Therefore, thriving within this undulating and often bitter-sweet rhythm of Christian leadership requires a shout-out about arguably the deadliest enemy of us all.
We are living in a time in history in which spiritual forces of wickedness are flagrantly acting to destroy the testimony and worship of the Church of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6). The onslaught against the truthfulness of the Bible, for example, is frightening, as is the general absence of a robust rebuttal of this anti-Christ slur.
Therefore, we are living in a time within the history of the church where more than just a few good men (and women) are needed to lead the people of God with the fierce courage and bravery that comes only from the Holy Spirit. There are many trinkets of popular culture that, often unwittingly to us, plot against this kind of warrior leadership of the Spirit in order that that the identity of the Church and the character of God’s people might be diluted into something vague and impotent and, ultimately, unrecognizable.
The Apostle Peter was powerfully restored from his doldrums of shame while the mighty Samson seems to us unfathomably stupid; the legendary Achilles had a vulnerable spot just below his ankle and even Superman had a deadly weakness to Kryptonite. For you, brother or sister, as you read this blog piece, it will likely be the “shrinking back” of Hebrews (10:39), as a response to a species of fear that will kill you as a healthy leader of God’s people.
Combating Fearful Leadership
Paul Tripp (pastor, author and conference speaker) says that “…fear is a function of forgetfulness,” meaning that we become overwhelmed or seduced by an ungodly species of fear when we forget the right kind of fear cultivated by holy intimacy with God.
There is no reality in you that will kill this evil kind of “Kryptonite fear” (and tendency to shrink back) more than an ongoing encounter with Love Himself. He is more beautiful and kind and patient and all-knowing than you can understand and it is only a closer proximity to Him that will fuel a hotter degree of “bold” in your leadership empowering you to stand and speak against the work of the devil in these days.
But what do we shrink back from?
Bold Against the Fear of Man
If you are a younger leader reading this, it’s likely that you’ll be grappling with the reality of raising a young family in a society in which many recent developments have made that much harder. What do you tell your children about various issues that they hear about at school and come home confused by? What do you tell them about Islam or terrorism or the prosperity gospel? What do you tell them about pornography and the pandemic of gambling that often slips under our radars?
For all leaders, what do you tell your church or your team? How do you teach the Bible today without causing offense?
If you faithfully teach the Bible on any of these areas you will definitely cause offense and you will almost definitely lose people from your church/team because the Bible is directly opposed to the work of the devil on the earth. It stands to reason that in teaching the Kingdom and the King, there will be a fall-out. (See 1 Cor.1:23-24).
But does that mean you don’t lead?
It is certainly easier to shrink back.
How God Will Enable Me? 5 Thoughts
1) Healthy leadership in the church today includes a preparedness to swim against the current of culture in the love of the Spirit but also in the power of His courage. Healthy leadership in the church today includes a level of “bold” that will not come naturally to you. Healthy leadership in the church today includes standing up in front of a watching church and a watching world and saying the things that Jesus would say.
2) Healthy leadership in the church today includes a priority to prayer and prayer like we’ve not seen before. A radical agenda for your lifestyle to form around corporate and personal prayer rather than vice versa, which is the commonplace norm.
3) Healthy leadership in the church today includes a fear of God and not a fear of man ‒ a “function of remembrance” to take Tripp’s thought to conclusion.
4) Healthy leadership in the church today includes keeping company with other leaders who have the conviction of the Spirit to also stand up and teach and preach as we should.
5) Healthy leadership in the church today includes pressing on into the nearness of His presence and the immanence of His power rather than shrinking back into the intimidation and fear of man and into the compromise of silence and fence-sitting.
Let’s go to God again, on our knees, and pray for the assurance of His presence that we might be bold as one expression of our healthy leadership.