Last summer, I wanted to have some kind of a “guys” outing for 5 days with my 17-year-old twins. They chose to go to Cedar Point, Ohio, one of the most famous attraction parks in the US. This park holds several records, including that of the number of different rides – 69 of them. That includes 17 roller coasters, one of them being the Top Thrill Dragster, that holds several height and speed records.
Imagine me… on the first morning, facing this steel giant that looks like a launching pad! We were the first to embark and to sit at the very front of the machine… Then came a voice: “You will now have the thrill of your lifetime as you are propelled from 0 to 120 MPH in less than 4 seconds and then launched vertically in the air at 420 feet and back on the finish line, all of this in 17 seconds…” At that point, I asked myself what I was doing there! I was in an environment I had no control over, wondering how safe all of this was …
Most of us want to be acknowledged as brave leaders that have “guts”. However, we are used to be content with an environment that is somewhat “safe and under control”. Following a leader that only leads in an environment that is “safe and under control” can end up somewhat boring. On the other end, following a leader who is willing to take some risks can be exciting and may honour God.
What are we presently doing for God that, should He not intervene on our behalf, would make us look crazy?
On many occasions in the Bible, God honours those who took some risks and placed their trust in Him. Let’s stop and consider some examples:
Caleb: “The Lord helping me, I will drive them (the giants) out just as he said.” (Joshua 14.12)
These were the same giants that had scared the Israelites so much that they said: “We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13.33)
Jonathan and his armor-bearer (they were outnumbered by 10 to 1): “Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few. ” (1 Samuel 14.6)
Should not such words inspire us to trust?
“Do all that you have in mind,” his armor-bearer said. “Go ahead; I am with you heart and soul.” (1 Samuel 14.7)
In other words, “I am right with you. I will cover you. » Who is covering us as leaders? Have we developed this kind of relationship with those who surround us?
To live by faith is the only way of living that pleases God (Hebrews 11.6). I personally believe that, as leaders, we must seek God, His will, His direction and move forward where He is taking us even if we do not control everything. When a leader is always “playing safe”, chances are that people in his church become boring and predictable. I am not suggesting here that we should be reckless and presumptuous; or that we should seek the advancement or our personal ministry instead of the Kingdom of God by using people to our ends.
This generation of Pentecostals is known for dwelling in an environment that is “safe and under control”, waiting before acting for a revelation such as: “Behold, a voice came down from heaven…” Without this voice or some kind of a 3-D vision, we stay where we are safe and things are under control before taking any chance or risk at all. But how much faith does it take to stand in front of a congregation and share such a special revelation? Not too much… Courage is not required when everything is so clear. Situations where I have seen God at work in my years of ministry (direction for the church, miracles, deliverances and healings, etc.) happened when I took a risk and placed my trust in God, not knowing the result ahead of time. It has never been a matter of what God must do (some kind of “hyper-faith”), but more of what He could do and that I expect. Honestly, in leadership, risk-taking inspires courage. You will be surprised to see how many people are ready to support you when you say: “Let’s go, let’s try!
And I sure count on God being with us!” I sometimes think God is waiting for a chance to surprise those who launch out in faith without any great special vision, without a word from heaven. Simply by resting on what they already know about God.
The parable of the talents underlines the fact that we need to move forward in faith and not be paralyzed by fear: “The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five….The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags.” (Matthew 25.20-28)
One important word in this parable is “I knew”. What do we do with what we already know? If I need to hear a special word before doing anything, I may as well retire or move to a monastery right now.
In the most important leadership decisions I have had to make, I have never heard a “word from heaven”. There was a biblical principle I knew, a direction that I believed seemed good to God and a measure of wisdom. I also weighed the pros and cons. Then, just like Jonathan, I made a choice. I didn’t know for sure just how things would turn out. We are often too worried about our ministry or our image. A good motto for the ministry would be: May the Lord do what He deems best. If my ministry prospers, let it prosper. If it doesn’t prosper, let it not prosper. As Esther said, “If I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4.16) The cause is well worth the risks we may have to take.
My prayer is that many leaders will realize that they have around them a congregation of armor-bearers ready to risk everything – only waiting to be inspired by their leader through such words as: “I trust this will work”, “That could work out”, “Maybe God will be with us on this”, “Let’s go for it, let’s try!”. It is quite difficult for a leader that encourages his troops with such words to receive any glory! Nonetheless, this is the kind of leader I long to be and to follow.
“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” Seneca
“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” - the things God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2.9