Martin Luther King, Jr. said it, “I have a dream.” Everyone at one time or another has said, “I’m afraid.” Leaders are not excluded from these dreams and fears.
I find it interesting that sometimes the person with the most knowledge and experience makes the least application of that knowledge and experience in their own lives. It’s kind of like the plumber who always has the leaky faucet at home. Or the doctor who is way overweight and eats the greasiest food he can find.
With church leaders what could that be? What could life be like for a leader if they actually prayed to the extent they encourage others to do? In this I am not suggesting leaders don’t already pray. I am suggesting there can be so much more for us in prayer if we are intentional.
The people I talk with in my leadership consulting are regular folks who are deeply committed to the things of God. I can safely say without fear of successful contradiction that the leaders I serve are people of prayer.
These same leaders have dreams and they have fears. Mark Batterson in his outstanding book, Circle Maker, articulates well the need for everyone to pray circles around our greatest dreams and our biggest fears. He notes that too frequently we pray rather anemic prayers that don’t challenge an ounce of God’s power to work in our lives. Not to diminish the smaller prayers, but does God care about our sniffle? Of course. Can He heal a body full of cancer? You bet.
Batterson writes of dreaming big, praying hard and thinking long. Let me challenge leaders to be intentional about praying big prayers to God. Think about this.
- Ask Him to do what is absolutely impossible. Certainly you have dreams that you cannot make happen. Be specific in asking God to make those dreams a reality.
- I know you’re a big boy or girl, but what is it that grips you with fear? Failure, success, something deep within? Be honest with Him about your greatest fears.
- Be bold in asking largely. A mantra of Circle Maker is that “God honors bold prayers because bold prayers honor God.”
- Think long. There’s nothing about this that is a quick fix or panacea to easy answers. When we think long we allow for the biggest picture to become reality. Leaders who do this will see big results in God’s time. We know God is not limited by time so why not think long. It’s as a split second to Him.
A leader says, “But you don’t understand. It is absolutely impossible. I’ve prayed so long and nothing happens.” How’s this for a starter-kit of thoughts?
- So you’re in a rented facility with 250 people and no room to grow. Why not pray for that property you cannot yet see on a four-lane arterial and a facility to accommodate 1000 in one service let alone two or three or four. Impossible? Of course it is!
- I know that daughter of yours has been away from God for so long. She’s messed her life up way beyond repair and beyond what the leader’s home raised her to be. Think of how her life will bless others as she and her husband-to-be reach more people with the love of Jesus than you ever dreamed of doing yourself. Impossible? Seems like it today.
- You and your spouse want so badly to support every missionary and kid from your church who has entered full-time ministry. But on your income? Impossible? You bet.
- You’re a first generation Christ-follower and have been rejected by your family. Think of a family reunion where He is at the center of all conversation and the family member most adamant against your faith talks of organizing a family missions trip to reach spiritually lost people. Come on. Get real!
- Your four-year old has been diagnosed with leukemia. The prognosis is not good. Imagine 20 years from now that little guy breaking Michael Phelps’ records. Impossible? Who cares? You’re praying to that end!
- You’ve given your life to ministry and now your wife has given herself to another man. How can any prayer break through to such a hard heart and selfish human being? Imagine the love-fires long having left being re-ignited stronger and brighter than ever before. Impossible? Pray hard, dream big and think long.
It’s up to you. You can sit there and do work like you’ve always done it or you can start drawing circles around that which is impossible. God has more for you than you can ever imagine. Put on the boots, get in the saddle and ride those prayers as long and as hard as you possibly can. Then watch God do what only He can do – the impossible.
Dick Hardy founded The Hardy Group after nearly 30 years of service to the church as an administrative pastor, church business administrator, chief operating officer, pastor of ministry development, non-profit executive director, and college vice president. Visit www.thehardygroup.org for more information.