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The Modern Day Warrior (Pressure is Pressure)

It would be much easier if you only had to manage self-leadership to conquer your spiritual disciplines, character issues, and family life (minus performance on the job). And conversely, it would be relatively easy to manage high performance on the job if you could sacrifice your family, walk with God and personal character. God help us, this is not how any of us think, or live, but have we not been tempted to lean one way or the other? This is pressure. God calls us as leaders not to avoid pressure but to lead through it. If you are taking your church forward, you can’t lead around the pressures of life—you must go straight through them.

The following is a simple set of ideas to give you fodder to think through how you handle pressure as a leader. Even better, you may simply want to ask a few people under your leadership what they really think. If you are “brave-hearted” enough for that, you may learn more than you bargained for.

Leaders who react to pressure:

Some leaders have a practice of reacting to pressure. We all do on occasion—even Aaron cracked under the pressure of the Israelite’s complaints while Moses was away so long. Even so, I want to raise a yellow flag of caution if you find yourself relating to several of these “reactions” on a regular basis.

 

Do you take pressure personally?

Leadership is personal. But if you take it too personally, you won’t survive emotionally. Leaders must be tough—able to “shake it off” and move on. This does not mean they are unfeeling or uncaring; on the contrary, good leaders have a deep love for people. They are, however, able to separate facts from feelings to make good decisions. Remember, the pressure is not about you, it’s about the cause you are leading.

Does pressure cause you to be image-conscious?

If you are overly concerned about what others think, you will diminish your leadership over the long haul. It is good to be liked, but it’s better to be respected. Leave politics for the politicians. Focus on who God wants you to become and what He is telling you to do.

Do you tend to lose perspective under pressure?

This one gets me on occasion. When I am not managing pressure wisely I lose perspective and things become “bigger, badder, and uglier” than they really are! Take a breather, step outside, smile, laugh and remember God is in charge. I often recite one of my favorite quotes. “When you’ve done all you can do, go to bed. God is still up.”

Does pressure cause you to get irritable or angry?

Let’s face it, no one likes a cranky leader. No one wants to follow someone who is like a ticking time bomb about to go off. No one wants to serve alongside a heavy-handed leader. This reaction is closer to a red flag than a yellow one. If this reaction is true for you on a regular basis, let me encourage you to seek out wise counsel. Remember this, if your reaction is larger than the issue at hand, it’s about something else.

Does pressure cause you to withdraw and pull away from people?

If this reaction is your regular response then you have fallen into a reclusive pattern of leadership. This reaction often includes the attempt to avoid pressure in hopes that it will go away. That never happens, it only gets worse. Pulling aside to pray about it is wise, but you must get back in the ring and lead.

Do you blame others when under pressure?

I mentioned Aaron earlier. He blamed the people in the incident of the golden calf. Remember his words? “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil.” Basically Aaron said: “It’s their fault!” Keep in mind that Aaron was a priestly leader chosen of God. He was no flunky. Pressure does wild things to good leaders. God is looking for leaders like Moses. Moses not only accepted responsibility, but offered himself for the sake of the people.

Do you attempt to take things into your own hands and “fix it” under pressure?

This is perhaps the most subtle and dangerous reaction of all. Rejoice in your strengths and talents, but remember where all your abilities came from. Don’t race to do something. Instead, pray first. Ask God for help. Ask for His wisdom and power. Humble yourself to your shortcomings as a leader, ask God to come alongside you and then lead on!  

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2019

About the Author: Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He is the author of Amplified Leadership: 5 Practices to Establish Influence, Build People, and Impact Others for a Lifetime (Charisma House, 2012), Shoulder To Shoulder Strengthening Your Church By Supporting Your Pastor (Thomas Nelson, 1997), and From a Father's Heart: Letters of Encouragement to Children and Grandchildren (Thomas Nelson, 1999). DanReiland.com. Twitter: @DanReiland

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