As a young pastor, I had to confront a much older member of our church regarding what I perceived as disorderly conduct. Because of his pugnacious reputation, I visited his house with some trepidation. True to form, after I presented what I felt were his shortcomings, he flushed with anger and not too subtly challenged me to a fistfight. Blessedly, it did not come to violence, but I sure felt afraid that night.
We all know the feeling of fear when confronted with some threat to our health, reputation, or anything dear to us. Leaders are also humans. We face situations and make decisions whose consequences can engender fear. How we respond to these predicaments could make or unmake our effectiveness as head of our team.
Abraham is one of the leadership giants in the Bible. God called him from the land of Ur to settle in Canaan. With a bold step of faith, he uprooted his entire clan and followed the divine command. Soon after arriving in Canaan, there was a famine in the land, and he was forced to seek refuge in Egypt. Upon arriving there, he noticed that his lovely wife Sarah could be coveted by other men, putting his life in mortal danger (see Genesis 12:10-11). Blanketed with fear, he said this to his wife, “Say you are my sister, that it may go well with me because of you, and that my life may be spared for your sake.” (Genesis 12:13). In other words, he told his wife to lie about their relationship to deceive the Egyptians.
His lie led to divine punishment to descend upon the Pharoah and his household. Eventually, his deception was discovered and blessedly rectified to the satisfaction of all. But not all fear-hatched lies lead to such a relatively happy ending.
What is more typical is that fear causes the leader to resort to the easy way out. An initial deception gives birth to other sins. Until one day, the leader’s life suddenly collapses in some public moral failure. May we, therefore, seek the Lord’s grace to overcome fears as leaders. May He give us the courage to stand by what is right before Him, irrespective of the consequences.
Abraham eventually became the father of the nation of Israel. Just like the other flawed leaders of the Bible, God can use unworthy sinners like us to lead His people.
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