He asked, “What safeguards can a leader put in place in his or her life to prevent this from happening?” The this was falling into the trap of fear. It was a good question.
Our conversation began with his story of what was happening in his new leadership role. He expressed excitement and energy about his transition to pastor of a multi-site church, but in the last couple of weeks his wife had pointed out that his tone was curt and his patience level was low. As she spoke truth to him, he realized that his first line of response for challenging circumstances had grabbed him again. He had become fearful that maybe he was “not enough” to do everything his position required. Thankfully, because he had a truth teller in his life, he began to reflect on her comments and was able to see what was happening. He knew fear had gripped him again. His question came from a thoughtful heart—a heart knowing that it could happen again.
As I prayed about my response to his question, I remembered that as he described the situation prior to his wife’s feedback, almost every sentence he spoke had begun with “I’ve got to.” I could hear in his voice the heaviness of trying to have all the answers and the pressure of not wanting to disappoint. And then I could hear myself saying these same kinds of things when I am under pressure to perform or meet a seemingly impossible deadline. And there was the clue. I suggested the following safeguards to my friend.
Listen for the “I” factor in your conversations. Listen for statements or thoughts that describe you as “less than” or “more than.” Take notice when most of your sentences begin with “I.” “I’ve got to figure this out!” “I have to have answers for my team." Or even "It is up to me." "I" statements are a clue that you have lost the perspective that you are not alone. Jesus was clear that it was in the intimacy He had with the Father that He did all He did. No one can be “enough” and when we think we are “enough,” pride is lurking around the corner.
Go immediately to the Heavenly Father for His perspective. He will tell you again you are loved and valued without condition. He will remind you too that it is only in Him that you will ever be enough. It is through the relationship with Him that fulfillment is found. When you separate from Him, you will lose the purpose and assignment for which you were created—to walk in communion with Him and to bring Him glory. His perspective will bring you back to trusting and focusing on Him, rather than yourself.
Take a memory walk back through your life. Remember the faithfulness of God in the times that were so difficult. Remember how God did not leave you then and be confident that this time will be no different. In Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby teaches us to think back and remember the spiritual markers in our lives. Those markers are a reminder of the stepping stones that have grown our faith.
I stay amazed at how quickly fear comes to overwhelm me too. Maybe that happens to you as well. What do you do when fear overtakes you? Will you try these safeguards?
Written by Phyllis H. Hendry
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