Meeting with pastors and church leaders, I often find myself inspiring them to be courageous. So much so, that I was recently reminded of Andy Stanley’s three expressions of courage. We must have the courage to say no, face current reality, and to dream. Let me ask you about these in the form of three questions.
First, do you have the courage to say no? Many people mistakenly believe that the ability to do many things is great leadership. Yet, it is proven that great leaders have the ability to focus on the few necessary things. Because doing everything is actually easier than making the hard decision to say no. That is why young leaders have to learn to focus and mature leaders have to learn to refocus.
I love eating at buffets. The bigger the buffet, the greater the cost. Because my parents were restauranteurs for a season, I learned that the increased cost is because customers are paying for the waste. The bigger the buffet, the more food is wasted at the end of the night. Take courage and say no to waste.
Why is saying no so difficult? It is because of fear…fear of disappointing others…fear of being passed over…fear of missing an opportunity…fear of losing influence. Which describes you? Andy Stanley says that taking advantage of many “opportunities” dilutes your effectiveness. And Lysa TerKuerst says that saying no to many opportunities will actually “allow you to say yes to your best yes.”
Second, do you have the courage to face your current reality? As leaders, we want to believe that things are good. We want others to believe things are good. But it is hard to face the reality that we make more dinners than disciples…that we spend more time trying to develop leaders rather than Christ followers…that we have been doing the same things for the past 10+ years but our culture has change 3 times during that same period and left us behind.
John 8:32 says that knowing the Truth sets you free. That is true about knowing your reality too. Casting vision is like using your GPS; directions to your intended goal can only begin once it identifies where you are today. Andy Stanley’s 7 commandments of reality are self-explanatory:
- Thou shalt not pretend.
- Thou shalt not turn a blind eye.
- Thou shalt not exaggerate.
- Thou shalt not shoot the bearer of bad news.
- Thou shalt not hide behind the numbers.
- Thou shalt not ignore constructive criticism.
- Thou shalt not isolate thyself.
Third, do you have the courage to dream? It is very common that pastors get so busy studying for sermons, preparing worship services, sitting in meetings, visiting hospitals, counseling congregants, planning ministries, creating budgets, etc. that they don’t take time to dream. Will you take time to set all that aside for a few days to get away and dream? Ask the Holy Spirit to inspire your heart and mind as to what could be…what should be…what will be. It is very common that God places things in your heart and they are pushed out or forgotten in the busyness of life and ministry. If you don’t dream for yourself, you will spend your life facilitating the dreams of others.