This whacked-out 2020 year is a case study in how circumstances can upend organizations and their leaders: how they function, how they fulfill their vision, how they stay solvent, and, most importantly, how they are led.
Heraclitus opined, “Character is destiny.” If character is the primary long-term predictor of how effective a leader will be, then circumstances are a key shaper of a leader’s character. Your leadership destiny will be dependent on how you allow God to shape you. But there are two angles we need to identify regarding circumstances and how we respond. First, are we blaming outside circumstances when we’re actually in a “prison of our own making”? For example, because of poor authoritarian models or abuse issues in our pasts, we can easily have irrational thoughts and believe certain scripts—or lies—about ourselves, our leadership, and God. Knowing the truth about who we are in Christ is crucial as it relates to emotional wholeness and healthy self-esteem. When we create our own prisons—and those can be from unforgiveness, boundary-less lifestyles, outright rebellion, or a host of aberrant behaviors—it is disingenuous to blame God for our circumstances. In the prodigal son parable, the son “comes to his senses” one day and sees the sad consequences of his life-choices. The exit is different from a prison we have self-created. But here’s the second angle to consider when circumstances go south: We can’t forget we are in the middle of a metaphysical combat zone. Leaders, when you said yes to leading in the Kingdom, you put a giant target on your back. There is a real malevolent being who operates like a spiritual Mafioso. We need to understand that it’s time to stand and fight when “the day of evil comes,” as Paul writes. In other words, beware of falling into Christian fatalism; Paul will have none of that in his description of spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6. You don’t have to take all of life’s slime lying down. Of course, discernment is key here. But there is a time to fight…and to fight the right thing. Circumstances and their origins aren’t always what they seem. And the leader’s discernment is critical during these times.
DAVE WORKMAN | Elemental Churches