When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. Isaiah 43:2
I once preached a sermon in which I told my congregation that we needed to enter a period of discernment. I wanted to play the part of Moses, to help them wander through the wilderness toward their future. After church, one woman said to me bluntly, “I don’t want to go into the wilderness.”
I guess I didn’t get the part, because a few months later, they asked me to resign.
Here’s a story from the Faith and Leadership website at Duke University. It’s about Salem United Methodist Church in Cedar Rapids. They experienced a devastating flood and a subsequent relocation in 2008. They are starting over in a new land.
What I appreciate about this story is the honesty with which it is told. The pastor kept his heart open to the movement of the Spirit, avoiding a rushed decision, even when it made the congregation really uncomfortable. He struggled with his own sense of direction, and his unpopularity as a leader. He had to defy the momentum of the congregation, which was anxious to secure a new building, and instead urge them into deeper conversation about what God might want for them. With time and prayer, the congregation was able to focus on its mission first, and then to find a building that would help them carry that mission out.
That is faithful leadership. If you are trying to lead faithfully through deep waters, take a little comfort in remembering: Moses wasn’t very popular for awhile, either!
P.S. While you’re at the Faith and Leadership site, roam around; there is a lot of good material there!