Once upon a time there was leader in a church. He was concerned about people leaving his church and going to another one. He said inside his heart “If people leave my church, I could lose my job, and if I lose my job I would have no money. Then I could die!”
In order to protect himself from all of this, the leader decided to change the way people worshiped God. He wanted to make it easier for them to reach God. He gave them many options to choose from that were closer to their house. He thought this would help people stay at his church. This church leader was full of fear.
A similar story to this one can be found in 1 Kings 12:25-33. In this passage Jeroboam was scared that people would leave his kingdom and go to Rehoboam’s kingdom (v.26-27).
Jeroboam was full of fear.
We see here that fear often starts in our hearts (v. 26). Unless fear is managed and purged from our hearts it can easily escalate into internal exaggerations. Jeroboam equated the thoughts of people leaving his kingdom with him being killed. The possibility of death from people leaving his kingdom is not really likely. This is a picture of what we can do to ourselves when we interact with fear.
In verse 28 we see the fear in Jeroboam’s heart eventually manifested itself into the work of his hands. He decided to build idols in order to manipulate the lives of people in a way that would protect his kingdom. He disobeyed the commandments of God that told him where and when to worship (v.29-35). He put his people in a place of disobedience with God as well. He did all of this because he was scared to lose his kingdom and his life.
Have you ever struggled with fear?
Jeroboam shows us what not to do. In contrast, I would like to suggest that there are at least 3 things from this passage that can help us overcome fear.
Pay Attention To What Goes On Inside of You – There are thoughts and feelings that come up inside our hearts. This is part of being human. We can’t just push these things aside and keep working with our hands. Fear will lead us down the wrong path.
Stop Internal Fear Before It Reaches A False Reality – Human emotions will escalate. That is another part of being human. It’s OK to be human, but is better to rest in the super natural grace of God. We need to recognize fear, pray through it, and soak it in scripture before we turn our interior world into pictures of a false reality. We can also seek wise counsel to help deal with fear. Be careful who you talk with though. Verse 28 tells us that Jeroboam took counsel and its obvious that he received bad counsel.
What’s In Our Heart Will Show Up In Our Hands – We may not realize this or even do it on purpose, but when we lead out of fear in our hearts it will manifest itself in human control, self protection, and the manipulation of others.
Does it really matter if people leave our ministry for another one? It’s God’s super natural ministry not ours. He can move people where He wants them to go. He does not need our human efforts to help control and manipulate His kingdom. When we start planning and building programs to get people to stay in our ministry we have a problem. When we do this in ways that are in direct disobedience to scripture we are in even more trouble.
The ministries and businesses we lead are directed by the grace of God. When fear comes we need to rest in God’s grace, cease striving, and know that He is in control. There is no need to protect ourselves and manipulate others in our own strength.
The next time you struggle with fear in your heart remember to pay attention to it, stop it before it escalates, and recognize that what’s in your heart will show up in the work of your hands. These things will help us trust God as a leader.