President's Blog: Leonard Buhler
The Key to Leading Without Regrets
Do you ever hear voices in your head? I’m not talking about the kind of voices that would justify anti-psychotic medication. I’m talking about the voices you hear when you’re lying awake at 2 AM.
I hear voices. Sometimes it sounds like my own voice, second-guessing my decisions. Questioning, doubting, nagging at me. Rehearsing what happened that day, cycling around the same thoughts over and over. “You should have done that differently. What if you made the wrong call?” Sometimes it’s the voices of other people. Critical, skeptical, disapproving voices. “Are you sure this is possible? I disagree with that. You’re on the wrong track.”
If you’re a leader, you probably hear those voices too. Because leaders – if they’re really leading – live out on the edge. Leaders have to make hard choices. They take risks. They’re always moving beyond what is and what seems possible to what seems unlikely at best, laughable at its worst. This is especially true of ministry leaders – the whole point is to set impossible goals that only God can accomplish.
So if you’re a leader, you’re going to be criticized. You’re going to question yourself. How do you silence the voices? How do you get a good night’s sleep?
What I’ve learned is that prayer is the only way. When I’m lying awake at 2 AM with the same negative thoughts rolling around and around my head, I pray: “God, please stop my mind. Stop these lies and doubts. Give me peace.” “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:1-2) I’m usually in a deep sleep within minutes. And I wake up, refreshed and thankful, realizing that God has answered my prayer yet again. When I’m feeling discouraged at the end of the day, I’ll pray, “God, could you show me your hand with me?” And He does.
Of course, you could pray a thousand times and it might not help. You can’t just pray a quick prayer in the middle of the night and expect that to be the answer. Prayer won’t work unless it’s rooted in trust and surrender. When I pray, it’s because I know that I am not the one with power or strength, God is. When I pray, it’s because I know that I can only see a little way into the future, but God is already working things out far beyond what I can see or imagine. When I pray, it’s because I know that even if I fail, or make a huge mistake, God will present me to Himself holy and pure, blameless in His eyes… “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25b-27)
When I pray, it’s because I know that without God, I would fall off the edge.
If I weren’t a leader, I would probably sleep better. I wouldn’t hear voices as often. But I also wouldn’t be forced to depend on God so completely. And I wouldn’t have the enormous joy of answered prayers – during the day, and at 2 AM.
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