You may have noticed that I am writing a lot about anxiety this week. If your wondering why you can check out Monday’s post, HERE for the story.
There are certain messages that we, as leaders, tell ourselves. These vary from admonitions to never show weakness to things like, “never let them see you sweat.” We can even go so far as to convince ourselves that we can not be a leader if we experience fear or anxiety. If you are anything like me, then your day is filled with a constant stream of internal messages that the people around us have no idea are even happening.
What happens when the leader has anxiety? With this constant stream of messages it can be easy for us to come to believe that anxiety and leadership are exclusive. How can we lead e people if we are afraid or anxious? As an ER nurse anxiety was sort of like a phantom. It was something that people often talked about and we treated people for it in the ER on a regular basis, but for people who have never experienced it, it didn’t seem real. There was often a desire to tell the person to “just get over it.” For leaders this type of dialogue goes on inside of us. When we feel anxious we often tell ourselves to “just get over it.” We may tell ourselves that we simply don’t have time for that today or that we are too strong for that. These attitudes may get us through a moment, but I don’t believe they will get us through the long term battle with anxiety.
Gideon was anxious. In the book of Judges we learn about a man named Gideon. Gideon grew up in a time when the Israelites were under great oppression. So much so that they found themselves hiding from their oppressors. This is where Gideon was when God called him. Gideon went on to free the Israelites, defeating their enemy with a force of 300 men. This may be what most of us know Gideon for, but before that Gideon experience fear.
Why are these things happening? In Judges chapter 6 we read where the angel of the Lord showed up to Gideon with the greeting, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” Gideon responded with “…if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” Gideon hear what the angel said, but wasn’t convinced. The angel later tells Gideon to, “Go in the strength you have and save Israel.” Gideon responded, “…how can I saw Israel? My clan is the weakest in Menasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Do these sound like the words of a man who would lead 300 soldiers into victory over an overwhelming enemy? No, these sounds like the words of someone who is scared. Someone who has anxiety.
Gideon later came to believe that this messenger was indeed telling the truth and that he could do what God was calling him to do. We later read that after , “the Spirit of the Lord came on Gideon” he asked for a sign from God to PROVE that God instructions were true. Gideon did this not once, but TWICE. This happened after the Holy Spirit had come on Gideon. Even with the help of the Holy Spirit Gideon still have anxiety.
How can I lead with anxiety? Yesterday I talked about how anxiety can lead us to activity or can scare us into inactivity. This is true for each of us as individuals, but it is also true for us as leaders. Anxiety is real and it happens to all kinds of people, even leaders. The difference is what we do with it after it comes. Does your anxiety push you to further action or does it cause you to stop moving? Does your anxiety push you to step out into uncharted regions or does it cause you to chose a path that is safer and more comfortable? Does your anxiety push you to step out in faith, trusting in what God is calling you to, or does it cause you to try to run or hide from God? This is where the rubber hits they road, as they say. This is where true leadership happens. When anxiety hits leaders move forward, followers stop and wait for the danger to pass.
Which one are you?
Will you stop and wait, or will you MOVE?Matt Norman
Thanks for reading this post. I hope you enjoyed it. To ensure that you never miss a post subscribe using the space on the right side of the screen.