I recently enjoyed breakfast with a long-time Corpath friend. As we ate, he extolled the virtues of his Corpath Forum. And we all know the richness of that Corpath experience.
But then he said something very insightful. After all the input from his Forum members…the feedback, the reflective questioning, the suggestions, the prayers for his situation…when all was said and done, he said the decision he now faced was his, and his alone.
He could no longer put it off. He couldn’t delegate it to a subordinate. It was his alone.
Yes, leadership can be a lonely enterprise. Really lonely. Sometimes, excruciatingly lonely…because the stakes are high.
Much rides on your shoulders. Finite resources. High stress. Thoughts, emotions, burdens, insights we aren’t always able to share. We can feel pummelled by vulnerability. Overwhelmed, when no one understands.
Moses knew the crushing burden of leadership.
“What am I to do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” (Exodus 17:4)
Joshua must have felt the uncertainty of leadership. When God called him out, he told Joshua,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged.” (Joshua 1:9)
David was overwhelmed as a leader.
“My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me…destructive forces are at work in the city.” (Psalm 55:4, 11)
When called to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah certainly knew loneliness at the top.
“I set out during the night…there were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. The officials did not know where I had gone or what I was doing, because as yet I had said nothing…” (Nehemiah 2:12, 16)
The Apostle Paul felt the crucible of intense pressure acting on his human vulnerability. After listing an incredible litany of persecutions, he says,
“Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak and I do not feel weak?” (2 Corinthians: 11:28)
As Corpath members and leaders, who of us does not feel weak? Who of us does not face pressure? Who of us at times do not struggle to maintain our leadership equilibrium?
Who of us in our more candid moments would not say, “I don’t know what to do?”
But then, in that moment of anxious uncertainty, maybe even of debilitating fear, a remarkable thing can happen to us as leaders who fervently follow Christ.
Paul wrote about it to Timothy when he said,
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength…” (2 Timothy 2:17)
There it is! What greater leadership resource could there be when the pressure is on when the leadership crucible is burning hot, when fears debilitate, and uncertainty confounds…then to know the powerful presence of the resurrected Christ at our side giving us strength!
Paul knew all about this divine source of strength when he declared, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
And he made it abundantly clear that he was not the only one who enjoyed this indwelling divine presence, for he wrote to the Colossians saying, “Christ in you…” (Colossians 1:27)
For Corpath leaders our Christian faith can never be a sterile, intellectual life exercise. If it is, we will have missed the most important dynamic threaded throughout the pages of Scripture,
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)
In the week ahead, each of us will again experience the pressures of leadership. Some of those pressures we will be able to handle by dint of experience and force of personality. Others will threaten our confidence, expose our vulnerability, and may even shake our very foundations.
When they do, let’s remember,
“The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:5)