by Jonathan Robbins
One of the most in-my-face lessons church planting has taught me is something I so badly would have loved to have understood in those early days. It’s this: The great challenge of leadership is having the responsibility of taking people to a place you cannot make them go! It’s actually more than just a challenge, it’s the madness of the leadership journey.
You simply cannot make people care, commit, serve, show up on time, give, get in a small group, or grow. If you could, you would.
You can cast a heaven-fired vision, but a white-hot vision is no guarantee that people will rally around it as they should, not even as you dreamed, hoped, and prayed they would.
Disheartening? Sure! But it’s nothing new, really. We find, time after time in the life of Israel, where God’s leader was set on fire from God with a vision or job to do and yet struggled getting the people to follow along in making that vision a reality.
Time after time, Moses had to pull God’s people along through the dessert on the way to the Promised Land. They complained and resisted all along the way. It’s not because the people were Godless; they were just being people – stubborn, lazy, self-centered… sinful – the very same kind of people you will be leading.
Now…who wants to go plant a church?!
Ultimately, the catalyst to taking people to where they need to be, not necessarily where they would go on their own, is not just vision alone or even a willingness. It takes the presence and power of God to move and change people.
Joshua, Moses’ successor, had to have taken the reigns of leadership with a cautious realization that “This ain’t gonna be easy. What if they don’t follow me?” Notice what God assured Joshua. It’s what Moses knew to be true. It’s what you’ll discover: the power and presence of God!
“…As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” – Joshua 1:5-6
God wants to see you lead people to the place they need to be with Him more than even you and I do. Never forget that He already has more invested into your church plant than you ever will! It’s His Kingdom agenda at stake here, not ours. So as God demonstrated to Moses and communicated to Joshua, you can be sure that if your vision to lead people is from God, then you have His involvement to make it a reality.
You can lead people, but you can’t change them. God can, and He wants to use to make it happen. You will not be able to alone. However, God will be able in you and through you, for His glory!