God is sovereign, and we can trust Him. He is the One who appointed us to our leadership position, according to Romans 13:1–2. So when our popularity begins to wane, when our position seems to be in flux or when we feel inadequate for the task at hand, we have nothing to worry about. It is all in the Lord’s hands.
Consider John the Baptist. He was in the public eye long before Christ; he had numerous disciples and a lot of public attention. But soon people started going to Jesus more than they were going to John. So one day some of John’s people brought this to his attention, essentially saying, “Master, we’ve got a problem. Jesus is getting the big crowds now. You are losing your popularity” (see John 3:26).
But John basically says, “You don’t understand. We can’t receive anything unless it has come from God. I’m really happy that Jesus is receiving all this attention. Don’t you remember? I came to promote Him. This was the role I was given to play. I’m not threatened; I’m so content” (see John 3:28–30).
John the Baptist knew that God was the One who placed him where he was, and this knowledge gave him security, regardless of the position and title he held. Even when John’s disciples joined Jesus, John was glad because he understood the larger picture (see John 1:35–37).
Even when we feel overwhelmed in our position, we can rest in the Lord. When we are a leader, it is very common for us to face new challenges and crises. We may not weep on the outside, but inside often we are trembling and thinking, I don’t know if I can do this!
Whether you think you are qualified or not, remember, it was God who placed you in this position of responsibility. Therefore, you can be sure that God will give you the ability you need to do it.
It is true that we must be constant, disciplined learners, but at the same time, we cannot afford to evaluate situations based only on ourselves—we must make conclusions based on God. That’s what David did when faced with the giant. He told Goliath, “You may look big, but I am not coming in my name; I am coming in the name of a God who makes me able” (1 Samuel 17:45, paraphrased). Jonathan Edwards, a respected theologian from the 1700s, said:
A truly humble man ... is sensible of his natural distance from God; of his dependence on him; of the insufficiency of his own power and wisdom, and that it is by God’s power that he is upheld and provided for, and that he needs God’s wisdom to lead and guide him, and his might to enable him to do what he ought to do for him.
There will always be people who might do your job better than you. But God didn’t call them to fill the position you are in. He called you, and no one can harm you.
Know that He will protect you and continue to stand by you if you remain humble and your heart is with the Lord.
Jesus told a remarkable parable about two brothers. We find it in the Gospel of Luke 15:11–32.
The younger brother takes all the money he can and runs off, lives a bad life and wastes everything. Then he repents and goes home.
His father is loving and gracious to him. Soon the younger brother is in the house having the time of his life—the best mutton curry and the best mango and the best ice cream. But somebody is missing from the dining table—it’s the older brother.
The father is so happy, but the older son is seething, refusing to go inside and celebrate. He snaps at his father and basically says, “I’ve been living in this house all these years, and I’ve served you like a slave! I never wasted your money! I built this! I did that! I did everything you said!
“And you never gave me a feast! But you give one to this worthless, no-good son of yours who wasted all your money! I don’t want to come inside” (Luke 15:28–30, paraphrased).
And the father basically replies, “My son, my son. All of these things are yours! You can have beef-fry, mutton-curry every morning, day and night. It’s all yours! Whoever told you it’s not yours?” (see Luke 15:31).
Question: How do you explain this?
Even when the younger son was a rebel, his heart was knit with the affection of his father. So when everything was gone, he said to himself, I can go to my father.
But for the older son, it was different. Even when everything was provided, he could not get inside the house. His relationship with his father was not one of father and son; rather, it was an employer and his employee. He was working for wages: respect, recognition and understanding.
Even though he had all the possibilities as the eldest son, his heart was not in a loving relationship with his father. In Christianity and Christian leadership, this same thing can happen. You are a great leader, and you have so much to do. But in the end you can come to the place in which you are doing all the work for money, recognition, reputation, honor or whatever else. It’s all about what you get, not because of the affection of the Father who sees you in secret.
Spiritual realities are always a mystery. When God deals with us, deep down in our hearts, there is a sense that we know something happened. Everything changed for me when I realized I am not a mission leader, I am not a politician, but I am a father—a father to those the Lord has given me.
When we realize that God is our Father,that we are safe in His hands, and that we are to be a father to those He has given us—everything changes.
It’s no longer so hard to know we are safe.
Source: Jonathan Edwards, Christian Love and It’s [sic] Fruit (La Vergne, TN: Lightning Source, 2001), p. 65.