The following as an excerpt from my current book project, “LeaderSheep; Leading From a Posture of Submission in Business, Ministry and Life” I just completed the first draft of Chapter 3 “Undaunted”, here is some of what I’ve written so far…
How many times have you had a dream? I’m not talking about a bucket list dream here, like climbing Mount Everest I’m talking about a dream that qualifies as a BHAG. (Big Hairy Audacious Goal)
We’ve all had them. Big dreams that we can’t possibly accomplish on our own or as we are. Maybe it’s to grow your business into an international brand or take your ministry on the road. If you’re like most people, the minute you receive that vision you start making excuses about why you couldn’t possibly make the leap and stand on the pinnacle of success.
But reading trough Paul’s letters to Timothy I get a clear sense of how you can fight those feelings. There are at least six characteristics that Paul gives, possibly more, in order to help Timothy combat his own insecurities and depression.
First Paul reminds Timothy of God’s grace. [1 Timothy 1:12-17]. Paul, remember was the man who persecuted the church and carried out capital punishment on followers of The Way long before he became an apostle himself. God’s grace abounds so much that even a man like Paul can become a great leader in the church and pillar of the faith. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” [1 Timothy 1:15]
When you become discouraged by the sheer magnitude of your BHAG and bogged down in the day to day operations of getting things done the first step is to remember God’s grace. He forgave Paul and even gave him the tools to go out and spread the gospel to parts of the world untouched by its message. How much more will he be able to help you?
Second, you must hold on to your faith and remember why you started on this path in the first place. Doubt causes people to stumble. Grace is part of God’s nature but it is of no use to us if we don’t have faith. “I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith” [1 Timothy 1:18-19]
It’s important to note here that faith is a command. Paul has just finished reminding Timothy how graceful God is, even toward a terrible sinner like Paul, and so the only appropriate response is to hold onto your faith. Anything less would be an insult to God’s character. When God has given you a grand vision, something worthy of being called a BHAG, and shown you love and grace in the face of your many failings, to become depressed and discouraged is an affront to the one who called you. Therefore, being faithful to our calling is not a request, it’s a requirement.
Next Paul reminds Timothy to pray.
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.
Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. [1 Timothy 2:1-8]
Prayer does many things, among them it helps focus our attention away from our personal bubble of immediate concerns and onto the bigger picture. When things become daunting it is important to step out of ourselves and get a broader focus. Paul tells Timothy that he must first pray for others, those in authority and to whom Timothy’s life is submitted in some way. By praying for the rulers Timothy is really praying that they too will see the headship of God and everyone would become submitted to the one true will of the father.
If your BHAG is truly from God it is by praying, first for others and then for yourself that you will know how the opposition you feel and the depression that comes with it is not from God and through prayer you and the people around you can begin to see clearly. That is how barriers are removed.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, this one written from a prison cell somewhere in Rome, he continues on the theme of encouragement and reminds him of a few more fundamental keys to understanding and becoming undaunted but the focus shifts a bit away from what God can do for you to what is now expected of a LeaderSheep moving forward.
The fourth key to remaining undaunted therefore is a loyal conviction in pursuit of the call.
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. [2 Timothy 1:6-8]
You have a mission – God gave it to you – get after it. In the first letter we were reminded that God is graceful, and faithful and that we need to pray about all things for his blessing and direction. Now it’s time to get moving! Don’t be a wimp, if God is truly in it you have His power to get it done. 2 Timothy 1:7 is the battle cry of the insecure LeaderSheep. God’s spirit takes away our insecurities, gives us power, wraps us in love and sends us out to get the job done. I never would have put pen to paper and written a single book, let alone three, if God had not given me his spirit, love and discipline to get it done. If it is truly from God you cannot be ashamed of your calling. As my friend Cary used to say, “Get’er done” – it is God’s gift to the world through you.
But what if there is still opposition to your mission? What if there are people demanding attention that contradicts your mission? Well, it’s time to tap in to that spirit of power we were just talking about and take on the false doctrine of the competing mission. The fifth characteristic of the undaunted LeaderSheep is the ability to stand up to falsehood.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. [2 Timothy 2:16-17]
Gangrene is nasty!
Paul uses a word picture here that is unmistakable. False teaching is like rotting flesh that will kill you from the inside. Standing up to falsehood in business and leadership is a huge need and great skill. It’s easy for insecure leaders to be seduced by negativity but once you tap into the power of vision and mission negativity has to go. There is still room for course correction but not negativity. And false teaching in an organization is almost always negative.
But false teaching doesn’t have to be just negativity. It can also be things that may seem positive but are just not part of the core ideology of the organization. Falsehood in this context is anything that pulls you off course and distracts you from your mission. This too can spread like gangrene throughout an organization and kill the vision. It must be stopped in its tracks before it can damage the spirit and moral of those in its path.
So lastly and not to belabor the point, LeaderSheep must remain undaunted and committed to the truth of their mission.
Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. [2 Timothy 4:2-4]
There will come a time when your mission is unpopular. Circumstances and sentiment will mount against you but if your mission is truly from God you must persevere in it and “be prepared to correct, rebuke and encourage”.
My personal mission in part is to teach people to live Debt Free. I started on that mission at a time when credit was cheap and saving was unpopular. The watchmen of our economy were working on the assumption that in order to stimulate the economy they had to make it easy for people to spend other people’s money. At the time I said no to that, repeatedly, loudly and at times emotionally.
I still say no to that false sense of wealth today. It is unpopular, a lot of smart people disagree with me. When I first started preaching debt freedom the purveyors of debt ignored me but as I started to gain a following they changed tactics and instead sought to discredit me. To this day I am but a small voice crying in the wilderness but I know I’m right and the truth is that the rich will rule over the poor and borrowers are slaves to the lenders [Proverbs 22:7].
The road to debt freedom and true wealth is long. I get that, but the short cuts just aren’t worth it.
Whatever your truth is, whatever your mission, you will have detractors. They key is to preach “the word”, correcting, rebuking and encouraging, with great patience and careful instruction. No matter what you face. Myths have a way of being found out. When you build you house on shifting sand, as Jesus said, the storms of life have a way of eroding the foundation so that everything comes crashing down. [Matthew 7:26-27].
Remaining undaunted in your mission has a way of attracting the type of followers you want to have as a LeaderSheep. The kind that not only see the vision and share the mission but the kind that can make it their own and the kind that can step up into leadership on their own one day.