In the world of churches, pastors, evangelists and missions we always here about the "payoff" and joys. Often because it sells books, attracts blog readers and inspires people to lead. It is an exciting an awesome thing to see. I, personally, enjoy reading and hearing those things. It gives me something to look to for encouragement and hope. (Thanks to you guys who write and share those very things)
However, it is a sad reality that we do not talk about the daggers that are thrown at leaders. We do not talk about the idea that leaders take the hardest hits. Moreover, we do not talk about how those blows materialize and how to deal with them. We flippantly mention them and move on under the guise of "trust God" and "keep the faith". But, we should talk about our experiences.
My experience, and current walk in ministry, has been one of trial and struggle. It has been a time of turmoil, pain and discomfort. Okay, it sucks! But, let's be honest we have all been here, and will al be here. (If you haven't, awesome! But, get ready...)
In reality, I know I am not alone. I am not the only one who has been here. I am not the only one who has been kicked and laughed at! I know because I have heard stories, and because scripture tells me that in 1 Peter 5:7-9. This passage says that "my brothers" all over the world are experiencing the same sort of trials! So, truth #1, realize you are not alone! But there are more truths to this passage...
Next, realize that our enemy is at war with the children of God! No matter how big or small our calling and vision; if it is to glorify God, we will be the target of the enemy. Truth #2, recognize the enemy! Sometimes that appears as discord or division in our ministry, our teams, our relationships and our families. In nehemiah, the enemy tries to attack the entire group as an initial attempt at thwarting the calling from God. How do the people react and defend? They hit their knees and ask for God's help. Their leader, a Godly man, hits his knees as well. When the going gets tough, a leader leads by example! A leader recognizes the necessity of prayer, and the power of God! Truth #3, you have to pray! Cast ALL your cares in Him!
Most of the time in leadership, it is the leader who receives the direct attack. The enemy takes the "sack the quarterback" strategy. In leadership we get our character questioned, our motives questioned, and our ideas questioned. The key is to realize that the attack, and the people who attack, are not working to be personal. It is not personal. When we are being effective, the enemy attacks us and knows that we take it personal. When it becomes personal, bitterness and anger and rage take over. We have to be careful to guard a hearts and minds from allowing this attitude to take root. Nehemiah worked extra hard to deal with this very issue. Just before, on the eve of, finishing the rebuilding of the wall, the enemy attacked him personally. Read Nehemiah 6:1-14. Nehemiah had reason to be discouraged, angry, confused and resentful. He may even have had the right to react and defend. But, he did not! He called the enemy the enemy. He recognize the attack. Then he cried out to God for help. He asked God to give him the strength to keep going. In the end, he was able to accomplish God's call in his life. He finished the wall and set the doors.
You will be hurt in leadership, you will be attacked in leadership! But, don't become angry and bitter. Don't react. Be prepared and be ready. Recognize the tactics of the enemy and call him out! Fall to your knees and cry out to God. Don't let the attack be personal, because it is not. Even when the words are against your name, and the actions are against your position. If God has called you to lead, and He has appointed you to lead; then lead. Don't give up, let up, or trip up! Keep moving!!! Lead.
Our world needs leaders. Our world needs MEN. Our world needs guys who will fight for the call of God in their lives. Our world needs passion. Don't let someone's reaction to what God has called you to do to scare you, intimidate you or discourage you. Keep moving. Remember, you can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens you!
My Prayer: God sometimes calls leaders to the wilderness. I simply pray He does not let me die with the promise land in sight! (i.e. Moses)