Church Planting Blog - Gateway Leadership initiative

My all-time favorite movie is The Shawshank Redemption.

If you haven’t seen it, there’s an amazing scene where Morgan Freeman’s character (Red) listens to Tim Robbin’s character (Andy) waxing eloquently about the hope he has of life beyond the prison walls that surround them.

Red gives Andy a stern look and retorts, “Let me tell you something my friend… hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It’s got no use on the inside [of prison].”

At the end of the movie, [spoiler alert] after Andy escapes from prison – he leaves a letter for Red that gently combats his captive mindset. Andy writes, “Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

The top enemy of leadership is fear. You probably guessed that when you read the blog title. I kept thinking of something more original, but there’s no way around it.

Tweet this:Tweet: Fear is leadership’s #1 enemy. ~Dan Nichols @restored_church @gatewayleaders Fear is leadership’s #1 enemy.

And fear’s practical side-kick in leadership is a survival mentality. But here’s the flip-side…

Hope is leadership’s top ally! And the practical side-kick of hope is vision. Sadly, I meet very few leaders who have hope & the subsequent vision fueled by that hope. Most leaders that I meet are crippled by fear & the evil side-kick of a survival mentality. It’s incredibly sad.

What makes things worse is that many of the leaders that I rub shoulders with are Christians: people who claim to follow Jesus. And if you understand all the hope that Jesus offers through his life & message… you would expect Christian leaders to be the most hope-filled, visionary pioneers on the planet!

But Christian leaders consistently succumb to fear & survival mentality just as often as non-Christian leaders. This blog will be directed to Christian leaders because I have a huge passion to develop leaders who have given their life to Jesus. I’ve done that. And yes, that makes me extremely biased (guilty as charged).

Ron Edmondson says, “Fear hides. Fear isolates. Fear paralyzes.”[1] But when Jesus revealed himself to John in Revelation, he told John, “Fear NOT!”[2] So what’s the motivation for resisting fear & the survival mentality?

It’s hope: because hope truly is a dangerous thing… just not the way Red thought it was in the middle of The Shawshank Redemption. Hope is dangerous because it fuels vision, and a powerful vision is unstoppable. It “punches fear in the face,” as Jon Acuff puts it.

For Christian leaders, Jesus should overwhelm us with hope every day! Jesus conquered death. Jesus achieved the “impossible.” Jesus became weak so we could become strong. Jesus offers the world new life. Jesus was perfect because we are so imperfect. Jesus loves the unlovable (including you & me). And Jesus gave us the most important mission & vision on the planet: giving hope to the hopeless.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m a pastor. I lead a leadership team of 12 incredible people at a young church plant in Wilkes-Barre, PA called Restored Church. Our vision is to give every man, woman, and child in Wilkes-Barre repeated opportunities to hear, see, and respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We’re in the “hope-business.” We’re convinced that Jesus is the hope for our spiritually dark city.

We’ve seen God do amazing things. People’s lives have changed. We’ve combated addictions, suicide, & hatred. Humility has developed in proud hearts. Love has become the heartbeat of people previously far from God. We’ve challenged the comfort of the religious too (which is always extremely dangerous). It’s amazing what happens when hope runs the show & vision is realized through years of labor.

But even though I lead a team committed to the mission & vision of Jesus, I still wrestle with leadership’s #1 enemy: fear of failure, fear of my inabilities, fear of man, fear of disappointment, fear of pain, fear of loss, fear of the future… you name it! And every now & then, I find myself getting sucked into a survival mentality that’s fueled by fear.

That’s when I have to remember that hope is more dangerous than fear! Jesus is more powerful than my enemy Satan. Jesus offers hope & vision that can move mountains. Satan offers fear & a survival mentality that deceives leaders into thinking they’re “just doing ok” while they’re really crippled & paralyzed.

So how are you leading this week? Are you leading out of hope & vision or fear & survival? I agree with Andy. Hope is what leaders need. Jesus offers it. Are you leading from it?