September 14, 2016

Faith Based Leadership

For this week’s Whiteboard Wednesday, Mike Gafa discusses how we can move a consistory from managers to leaders. We achieve this by moving away from fear and fact based management and moving towards faith based leadership.

To move from managing to leading, your consistory must embrace faith-based leadership while steering clear of fear and fact based management.

What does it mean to be fear based? Proverbs 29:25 states that, “Fear of man will prove to be a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Consistories that spend too much time thinking about what church members are saying or thinking about them are fear based – they are rooted in fear. If church leaders are consumed with whether people are happy or frustrated, pleased or displeased, for us or against us, they are fear-based. As a church leader, if you are focusing your time and efforts on these kind of thoughts instead of thinking about ways you can advance the Gospel, then you are mired in fear, which brings on a sort of spiritual paralysis, keeping us stuck in place.

We see this dynamic in the parable of the talents, when the third servant buries his talent in the ground and leaves it there until the day of reckoning. His assumption of the master – a representation of God – was borne of ignorance and rooted in fear (“I know that you reap where you have not sowed, that you are a hard man”). Obviously, he did not know the master, because if he did he wouldn’t have taken this approach. Ignorance led to fear and fear kept him in place. Similarly, this can happen in churches, when we bury the resources God has given us.

To be fact-based is somewhat similar to being fear based. Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  

To be clear, there is nothing wrong with facts, information, and data. We need information. We need data. But at the end of the day, if we are more data driven than gospel driven, if we trust more in what we can see than in what we can’t see, we become fact-based, which leads to something like spiritual blindness. Our field of vision shrinks and we become myopic – narrow – in our thinking. But the bible makes clear that our faith is in the unseen.

Consider Numbers 13, when God instructed Moses to send twelve spies to the land of Canaan to explore the land and report back their findings. As the story goes, the spies went and came back. They reported that the land was great and flowing with milk and honey, and the fruit was especially good … but that the men there were enormous! The spies compared themselves as grasshoppers compared to the men from the land of Canaan. Because of this fact, they did not enter into the promised land. However, Joshua and Caleb saw exactly what the others did, but trusted the unseen promises of God over what they could see physically with their eyes. Not coincidentally, out of all the adults in that generation, only Joshua and Caleb entered into the promised land.

To reiterate, to be fear-based is to be consumed with what others are thinking, which produces spiritual paralysis. And to be fact-based is to discount what we can’t see while placing too much emphasis on what we can see, which ironically produces spiritual blindness.

However, to be faith-based is to trust in the promises and provision of God, which brings us commendation. Hebrews 11:1-2 states that, “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The ancients were commended for their faith, and we are too when we lead with faith.

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