a leadership question

i had a long and esoteric conversation with my youth pastor the other day and it caused me to rethink my journey.  so often, we trudge consistently toward “the goal” and don’t take time to consider contextual factors like progress and lessons learned.  i was sharing with him about the joys of “staff status” (i’ve written about it in this space previously) as opposed to the responsibilities of being lead pastor.  as i rehearsed the steps we have taken, i really began to wonder about the vagaries of “the will of god” and the role of the leader.  therefore, i’d like to present this quandary for discussion among the wise readers of this blog (you know who you are) and see if perhaps others are thinking the same thoughts and struggling with the same doubts.

the building we occupy (and are renovating ad infinitum) is almost perfectly suited for our purposes.  it is in the heart of the city, close to several junior high and high school campuses, and it is huge.  not fancy by any means, and it needs a great deal (i wish i could make “great deal” sound bigger) of work, but it is very functional.  the whole community uses it and we are delighted with how it performs as a ministry tool.  but we have a mortgage (what an ugly word).

before we decided to purchase this campus, we were in the building where my wife and i started the church.  when we moved in, it was a dark little place in a residential neighborhood with no room to expand.  it would seat about 100 people (125 crammed) and, after a couple of years, we were filling it twice on sunday mornings.  and we had no mortgage.

we (my leaders and me) sought god hard for direction, and when our current building became available we felt sure it was divine providence (and here is the aforementioned struggle).  after making sure there was consensus among the leadership team, i went to the people and “sold them” on the concept.  i told them we were sure this was what god wanted, and i needed them to get behind it (work, pay, etc).  for the first few months, everything was great.  before long, though, it began to feel like we had bitten off more than we could chew.  people began to get disillusioned with the sheer volume of work that needed to be done, and many left.  financially, it was a monumental struggle.  now, four years later, things are turning around and we are beginning to reap some of the benefits of this facility (child-care center, after-school program, etc). 

here’s my question: how does one absolutely differentiate between a step of faith and a self-inflicted blunder?  i am acutely aware (and somewhat terrified) of the power of my influence, and i never want to feel like i’m selling something to the people who have put their faith in me.  as i look back on the difficulties of the last few years, it feels like i messed up but i know that is not necessarily the case.  it may well have been god’s plan for us to struggle.  perhaps he needed to sift the people that left (although, to me, that is a painful thought).  i have a solid accountability system in place, but how does one safeguard against leaning on energy and ego?  my heart quest is to serve with my whole life, but it is also incumbent upon me to lead.  how does one properly balance the two (as jesus did)?  has anyone else had an experience like mine?

i can’t wait for these comments.


8 thoughts on “a leadership question

  1. Every decision of consequence I have ever made in attempting to follow God’s will has always felt like a roll of the dice. I have come to the place that I think the most important thing is to follow what scripture is telling you to do. We put so much emphasis on the “outcomes” that if things don’t happen they way we expected we think we have somehow missed God. Not necessarily so. To me the real issue is not to second-guess a past decision. All that will do is either fill you with regret or pride. Look at where you are, figure out where you want to go, do your best to get there with God’s help.

    I think part of walking by faith is feeling your way through in the dark.

  2. Moses was raised in a palace to be used in the desert. Joesph was raised in a desert to used in a palace. Each wrong decision they made took them through well learned lessons and each right decisions a lesson learned. I recently made a decision to confront a family member and pastor in my family about a long time sin in his life which is affecting his entire family and especially one child. I HATE confrontation and would MUCH rather follow today’s church version of the fruits of spirit… love, kindness, goodness and so on by staying out and not offend him or his family. Well it blew up in my face. I wonder if it was the right thing to do… I feel bad and struggle with it even though my decision was made for me written in black white and red. My family member agrees with everything I confronted him on but chooses not acknowledge what the Bible says about it, and continues to ignore the issue. I’m sure Moses and Joesph questioned themselves in their crazy lives even when the answer was handed to them. In the end how did they finish the race in God’s view vs man’s? How did their slip ups and successes benefit all man kind?

  3. If you and your team were sure this was the LORD’s will and then stepped out in faith and obedience, you cannot look back, that is reaching back to doubt and disobedience. I have often begun to doubt some decisions I was sure God was leading in but when I continue on in faith I can always look back and see God’s mighty hand at work in ways I could never have imagined.
    You’ve mentioned some of the progress, rally in it and keep going God is going to do abundantly more than you could ask, think or imagine. Just be faithful to his callings. It is his work, not ours. He is at work. He is doing it.

  4. I have had the distinct pleasure of making some huge mistakes that didn’t feel like huge mistakes when I made them. In retrospect, I was too blind to know my error.

    It is completely possible to make a huge mistake even though you love Jesus. Why would he let us do that? Some people think that as long as you are a good Christian and you listen to worship music, you aren’t susceptible to making a huge goof. That is complete crap.

    Think of the story of Job. Job is the star of the book, but life sucked if you were part of his first set of children. God killed you just to prove a point.

  5. “here’s my question: how does one absolutely differentiate between a step of faith and a self-inflicted blunder?”

    Why can’t it be both?

    You appear to follow a scriptural model of accountability. It appears you sought counsel from others. You followed the light you had. God put you in this spot because he trusts you to do that, not because he knows you’ll be right every time.

    I think we overestimate how much power we have to hinder God, underestimate the impact our words and actions have on others’ day-to-day lives and can never know everything God knows.
    According the great philosphers The Rolling Stones;
    You cant always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you might find. You get what you need.

  6. I once heard a statement that faith is when you attempt something so big that if God is not a part of it, it will fail completely. I really believe that is true in our church. We took a step of faith to buy a fixer-upper building. We were lead by God to a bigger building…Not for our purposes, but for his. If you go back and look at where we were and then look how far he has lead us you have to understand that God has been with us every step of the way. Remember everything is in Gods time. Remember when we tried to purchase the building before and we lost the bid? God was there…it wasn’t his time. Years later the price of the building dropped virtually in half…God was there and he gave us the means to purchase it. When the church was looking for ways to get out of financial troubles the Day Care showed up on our doorstep…God was there! (and thank God for his timing) If you look at the growth and the physical changes in the church you have to be amazed by Gods work. The most amazing thing I personally have seen lately is the wonderful Kids that God has sent us. Just look at the Rangers or the mpact girls, the Jr and Sr high youth group. God has entrusted us to tell his story. To be the loving caring church the Jesus envisioned us to be. Jesus said that if we have as little as a mustard seed of faith that we can move mountains…and look what God did!

    Thank you God!

  7. I recently read an article by a Salvation Army officer on prayer. It seems to me, we could substitute the word faith where the word prayer is and it still applies. It went like this:

    “Prayer (faith) takes courage. Great prayers (faith) are (is) courageous prayers (faith). Prayer (faith) does not require perfect knowledge of the will of God. it requires trusting in God’s will. Prayer (faith) does not hinge on certain answers, but on the certainty that God will give His answer in His time. Phillip Brooks once urged, ‘Pray not for crutches, but for wings.’ I might add that sometimes we also need to pray for the courage to fly” (AmyJo Ferguson, Fairmont MN Corp)

    It seem God’s been speaking to me alot about trusting him and this excerpt from her article spoke volumes to me…. about prayer and faith!

  8. Pingback: turning to a whole new page « your best life later

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