Fear-Driven Decision-Making is Not for Church Leaders

Frozen by Fear

Frozen by Fear

You can almost smell the fear in a lot of church leadership meetings. Faced with a decision, there’s a pause that has nothing to do with the data, nothing to do with the Bible, but a lot to do with consequences.

“We need to table this until we’ve studied this a little more,” one leader says. “Yes,” says another, “we should check back with the staff and have them analyze the repercussions of the options.”

I’m all for prudent decision-making. Serving as a pastor or an elder in a local church is a crushing burden of responsibility. However, someone needs to ask the question, “Are we hitting the pause button because we truly feel we don’t have the facts, or are we simply afraid to make a decision?”

If you want to be viewed as a “good” elder or pastor, it's tempting to focus on the comfort of a choice.

Get your particular church tribe to pat you on the back for representing their interests. Get your staff team to take fewer chances during an undertaking. Push for everyone to settle for church as usual. Slower processes, safer decisions, more comfort — especially for the leader.

If you want to be viewed as an effective elder or pastor in the Lord’s eyes, It’s necessary to walk by faith, not by sight. Besides, guarding your reputation as a flawless leader comes from a self-protective place in the old you. It’s called the flesh. Christ in you could care less about your reputation. Because only your trust pleases God, and only your trust will guide the church toward God’s will for your faith-community.

Actually, you'll get far more lasting satisfaction if you have stories to tell about your faith in the face of disaster. Years ago when we had just a few dollars in the bank we received a letter informing us that a former missionary lady from Church of the Open Door was hurting financially, We voted unanimously to drain our bank account and give it all to this widow. I remember the fear of what people would say when they discovered our foolishness, but the Lord’s words about widows and orphans won the day. Today, every time we rehearse that story with the next generation, it’s celebrated as one of the best two or three decisions we ever made during my years as Lead Pastor.

If you focus on trusting God with wisdom AND courage, you too will have stories to tell.

What kind of legacy would it be to look back on your years leading a local church only to say, “We didn’t make any big mistakes”?

That’s not leadership; that’s a walk in the park — a groomed, boring, predictable path of comfort. You can whistle your way to heaven with that approach.

You don't do great things for God by avoiding mistakes. Will you have regrets as a courageous leader? Sure!

What you won’t regret, and I mean never regret, is living by the faith that gives you a front row seat to demonstrations of the power of the Living God.