Healthy Leaders


Confusing Times Call for Presence-Based Leadership

Patricia TillmanPatricia Tillman

WWJD Grown Up

Because of the major church split, they didn’t have enough people to move forward with their building project. Worse yet, the remaining congregants wanted to know what was going to happen with the money in the building fund. The elders had no idea what to do.

Before reading on, ask yourself, “What would I do if I were in their shoes?”

Some might counsel the elders to ask: WWJD? (What Would Jesus Do?)

That’s a good place to start, but there could be a lot of various answers to that question. Jesus responded to different situations in many different ways.

Others might go a step further to ask: JWDYWUTD, or “Jesus, What Do You Want Us To Do?”

That’s better. It’s going straight to Jesus, the one with the answers. But it still doesn’t get to the heart of how Jesus modeled leadership.

Pastor Erick and the elder team went deeper to ask a Presence-Based Leadership question, one that draws us to lead in and from the Lord’s presence:

Jesus, what are you already doing in the situation and how do You want us to partner with You in it?

It’s not about finding an answer “out there” somewhere and trying to figure it out. It’s about walking in the Lord’s Presence ‒ in His Spirit ‒ and following Him, moment-by-moment.

That’s the kind of leadership Jesus modeled. He only did what He saw His Father do, and said what He heard His Father say. Jesus lived a lifestyle in the Presence of His Father, remaining sensitive to the Father’s direction, partnering with His Father to carry out His will. (Luke 22:42; John 5:19, 30, 36; 8:28-29, 38; 12:49).

If even Jesus, the Son of God, could do “nothing of Himself, but only what He sees the Father do,” how much more so do we need to depend on living in the Presence of God, sensing what He is doing in the situation and partnering with Him to carry it out. Yes, the Lord uses our talents, gifts, intellect and skills. But we can’t trust those things for the answer. We need to allow Christ to build His wisdom as we wait in His presence.

Pastor Erick and the team of elders took a retreat to seek the Lord’s presence and direction. Needless to say they wrestled with the questions of what went wrong and what they needed to change. Most of all, they wanted to discern a response that would renew the congregation’s faith in God and steer away from disillusionment or distrust.

The elders spent hours praying over the situation, worshiping and waiting on God’s response. They acknowledged Christ in the midst of their gathering (Matt 18:18-20), and their complete dependence on His wisdom and in-the-moment guidance.

As they waited, what can only be described as a weighty, almost tangible peace settled on them. The Lord’s guidance came step-by-step over the next several years, but in that moment, Christ’s Presence assured them of His care, that as they acknowledge Him in all their ways, He will direct their paths.

This is leadership the way the Trinity designed us to lead at Creation: in and from the circle of Trinity presence, yielded to the Headship of Jesus the Firstborn as sons in the Father’s Household, fully alive in Christ’s presence, administering His wisdom with fullness of joy, peace, and contentment. (Genesis 3:8; Matthew 18:19-20; John 17:20-23; Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:18; Psalm 16:11)

2Read more of Pastor Erick’s story, and many more real-life Presence-Based Leadership Stories in our new book, Mastering the Art of Presence-Based Leadership: Discerning the Wisdom of Christ by Partnering with Him
Available April 26, 2016
Pre-order now at

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