Leadership Out on a Limb

This is a picture of my daughter while we were on a family hike last summer in Rocky Mountain National Park. We were on the Deer Mountain trail when we came across this dead tree–it had probably been struck by lightening. It was an easy climber–so both kids wanted to hop up and have their picture taken. But it also reminded of the nature of faith. In my last post I talked about the essence of faith being the belief in the absolute goodness and presence of God. And I mentioned that when we begin to doubt these character qualities we begin down the path of a hard heart.

Crisis challenges faith. God promises in the Bible that there will be times when our faith will be challenged–even tested by God Himself. Not only does our belief in God’s goodness and presence come under fire–but I think there are some unique aspects to this in the life of a leader. These next few statements may not be unique to leaders alone–but leaders may experience them in unique ways.

Three things come to mind that also come under fire when crisis meets faith for a leader. First, their love for Christ is challenged. If Christ really loved me why would He let this happen to me? We intellectually know the answer but our heart screams something different. Yet Romans 8:31ff tells us clearly that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. And the clear proof of that reality is the sacrificial death of Christ–whom God the Father delivered over on our behalf. Second, our calling as leaders can come into question in the midst of a faith challenge. Maybe I am headed down the wrong path? It shouldn’t be this hard. I never singed on for this. God’s will should be smoother than this. Yet best I can tell, circumstances alone are never an indication of the rightness or wrongness of God’s call on our lives. Calling in the Bible is always an invitation–a summons to join God somewhere for some purpose. There are at least three biblical invitations we can be sure of– to salvation, to submission, and to service. Oh, and I think there is a fourth that is relevant here–the invitation to suffering. The apostle Paul assumed it–it was part and parcel of being an “in Christ” person. Third, a crisis of faith will possibly challenge our love for people or a person. Many crises are a result of people and their ability to wound us. As leaders, will we still love those we are called to lead, care for, and influence? If God demonstrated His own love for us while we were still sinners–can we do less?

Is God good? Is God really present in my circumstances today? In this current crisis? My response will determine my ability to love Christ, my ability to love those whom God has placed around me, and my ability to keep chasing His call for my life.

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