One of the more prominent issues that I see in pastors and leaders is that they live with fear. When I think of fear and pressure these days I think of Tim Tebow, quarterback of the Denver Broncos. I haven’t seen a recent player under such scrutiny as Tebow. He is playing in the shadow of a Hall of Fame quarterback, John Elway, who is now the executive vice president of football operations for the Broncos. Before their last playoff game, Elway made a comment urging Tebow to “pull the trigger.” No pressure there, right Tim?
As a pastors, I know that you live in fear for all kinds of reasons. I actually know pastors who are afraid to preach – not because of the Word of God but because in their very nature they are introverts and it takes everything they can to stand up in front of people and speak. As an associate pastor, I can remember standing on a church patio donated by a very prominent member of our church as a back hoe started tearing it up as part of a $1.5 million dollar expansion and renovation of our church. The senior pastor and I looked at each other and almost said in the same exact words, “What have we done now?”
Many nights I lay awake thinking about decisions that I was making and what the future might hold. Obeying God is one of the most satisfying, demanding, rewarding, frustrating, experiences we have as followers of Christ. Nothing is normal as a Christ follower. Just ask Abraham, Paul, Namaan, Peter, Joseph, Jacob, Mary, and Rahab to name a few.
So what do we do with our fear? I am not an expert on fear but I do want to share with you some thoughts about decision making that help to alleviate fear.
I find courage in the Scriptures. Reading how God delivered Israel, Kings, servants, tribes, etc. is comforting to me. It gives me courage. One of the more helpful things that I read on a daily basis is an email that I get from an organization called Fearful to Fearless that has a Scripture verse accompanied by a spiritual truth from the passage. It may not sound like much but those Scriptures and truths have brought me comfort many times. The other important point about reading Scripture is that this is where God talks to us. If you aren’t spending time daily in the Word of God you will struggle. Even more importantly, you will miss the friendship of God. Joshua 1:6, “Be strong and courageous, for you will lead my people to possess all the land I swore to give their ancestors. Be strong and very courageous. Obey all the laws Moses gave you. Do not turn away from them, and you will be successful in everything you do.” V. 8 goes to encourage us to study and meditate on God’s Word day and night.
You need other pastors in your life. You need a band of brothers and sisters who can help you when discernment is needed. You need to have people in your life who have similar experiences as you. There is nothing like peer-to-peer learning and praying together. Remember the story in Acts when friends lifted the lame friend down through the roof so that he would experience healing. Who are your friends? Who is your Jonathan? The source of courage does not come from ability, technique, personality or anything human. It comes from God. Sure we all experience or read about human heroics. But the courage that I am talking about comes from obeying God. Story after story in the First Testament shows us exactly who defeated Israel’s enemies. God did. We need to learn to trust God for the outcomes of our decisions. He is the source of all victory. He is the source of all power. Obeying him and trusting in him will help alleviate our fears.
Finally, prayer. We are constantly being reminded to pray, but do we? One of the greatest weapons to defeat fear is our prayer life, yet we barely make time to pray. Currently, I am reading Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears. I am already encouraged and emboldened in my faith of his stories on prayer. I resonated with him when I walked all over the neighbor around our church and prayed for people. God sent us people who became members of our congregation and people who rose to leadership levels in our church. Those days were incredible. If you are “prayed up,” you will be less likely to fear. Make prayer a vital part of your life.
Pastors, we love you and care for you more than you know. We consistently pray for you. We are doing everything we can to help you thrive and grow in your ministry. One effort is our Master’s Groups that have a great process to help you make good decisions. You can learn more about being part of a Master’s Group at www.ccnetonline.org.