Changing the Heart of the Leader

open heart

Church leaders are not responsible for coming up with plans or strategies of mobilization. We are to put into action what God places in our hearts.

was to do for Jerusalem. By this, we see that Nehemiah was never responsible for coming up with a plan to revitalize the hearts of the people or rebuild their wall. He was to put into action what God had placed in his heart. In like fashion, church leaders are not responsible for coming up with plans or strategies of mobilization. We are to put into action what God places in our hearts. 

A few months ago, I neglected this truth and found myself in a state of frustration. I told my wife that I was enjoying pastoral ministry Monday through Saturday, but Sundays were becoming overwhelmingly discouraging. I loved meeting with people and walking with them in their spiritual journey. Hearing their stories, answering their theological questions and exploring God work in their lives gave me the sense of fulfilling my pastoral call. However, I dreaded the Sunday morning worship service. Following one of these dreaded services, my wife confronted me for being rude to my associate pastor. My frustration was spilling over; I needed something to change. 

I went to prayer asking God to do a work in my heart that did not include a change in circumstances. I knew the majority of pastors and leaders were facing similar issues, and the problem was my poor reactions to the regular stressors of ministry. My poor responses were based on the fear of reliving past failures that caused me close a church that I had planted. I knew that my heart was not healthy, but I lacked the power to change. I simply confessed I was leading from a position of fear not faith. 

Moving forward from that time of prayer, God orchestrated three important conversations. The first was with my church board. I opened my heart before them and admitted my fear and lack of faith. I reassured them of my desire and plan to remain their pastor. I committed that I was going to see us through this difficult season. A board member prompted a second conversation. He pulled me aside after a midweek event and expressed the confidence that he and the entire board had in my leadership. The third conversation was a phone call from a denominational leader who expressed his confidence in my leadership and ability to build and coach leaders. Through these conversations, God helped me see that I was the only one who did not believe in my ability to lead. I was afraid, while my board and denominational leader had faith.

These conversations prompted another time of prayer. This time, I asked God to give me the next step forward for our church. I did not pray for results or set any milestone goals. I simply asked for the next step. This is when things got interesting. 

My usual strategy is to involve my leadership team in the creative process of setting or changing course, but this was the first time in seven years that I brought them a plan for approval that they did not help create. I shared with them what I believed to be our next step forward and opened it for discussion. They reiterated their trust in me and spoke of how the initiative fit directly into our established mission and vision. I also shared the initiative with my denominational leader, who confirmed it as well. 

I am not going to share the details of this initiative because that is not my point. My point is that we who lead must do so based on what God places in our hearts. When we do this, he will confirm it through fellow leaders and authorities. This is not a call for top-down leadership or to sidestep accountably. When God places his will in our hearts as leaders, he will also place it in those around us. 

I challenge you to boldly approach God with an open heart and mind. Seek his will for your church and community. May the Lord fill you with what he wants for his people who he has put under your care. 

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