Great leaders throughout history faced phobias, and so might we when God directs us to lead.
Winston Churchill faced his fear of public speaking after he froze for three minutes giving a public speech when he was 29 years old. After facing that fear, he was later able to deliver speeches to inspire and lead his nation through a difficult and long victory during World War II.
David, the beloved King of Israel, faced a real giant just after Samuel anointed him as Israel’s future king. The Israelites chose fear, but David met Goliath with confidence, and God allowed him to kill the giant.
Many women walk into leadership positions with some giant phobia they need to face. According to Dictionary.com, a phobia is “a persistent, irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that leads to a compelling desire to avoid it.” Fear can potentially cripple women when God calls them to lead, yet facing those fears allows them to do the work God has prepared for them.
Why don’t we just shut down those unfounded fears and move forward in leadership roles when God makes them clear to us? Sometimes naming those phobias and knowing that other women have fears, too, is the first step to removing them.
Fear of not being capable
We may play tapes in our minds that tell us we are not equipped to do the work even though God directs us. We know He has promised to provide what we need, but even if we don’t admit it, we may doubt that He will help even us!
Most leaders realize that they are not capable of doing everything needed to accomplish a task, and that’s exactly why we call them leaders.
When we realize that God’s call often includes a team who will complete His work, we can be confident that He will provide the ability to accomplish the task, either through us or by providing others to help.
The Apostle Paul encouraged the believers with a blessing by asking God to equip them to do God’s will. “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20–21 NIV).
Given that many have the fear of not being capable, Christian women leaders can use Paul’s example and encourage their team. The more we hear ourselves choosing words to encourage others, the more we will also be confident to complete the work.
God intends to finish what He starts.
Fear of no one following
We often picture the worst case scenario, one of which might include us leading and no one following. This negative view can pervade our thinking and hinder us from leading with enthusiasm.
We often defeat ourselves in our minds before we even get started.
We can face this fear by passionately focusing on the work God gives us. Once we can define the task and break it into logical components, we have the basis for creating a team that can excel.
In the Bible, Nehemiah’s team divided the task of building the wall. Each family had a job that they could accomplish, with a clear framework to know when it was done. Their group effort caused the monumental task to be completed in just 52 days (Nehemiah 6:15)!
Empowering others to accomplish the task may mean many things, but it should certainly include giving each team member a framework in which he or she can create excellent work without being micromanaged by the leader. As each one creates with excellence, the whole team can celebrate the excellent outcome. People want to be a part of something exciting, so we don’t need to fear that no one will follow when we lead with passion as God directs us.
Fear of failing
We spend time thinking about what it will mean if we fail, when we could be thinking about what will happen when God causes His work to succeed.
We can face this fear when we admit that we are going to make mistakes.
I’ve watched several women step into leadership positions by admitting that they are going to make some mistakes, and that they are not going to lead exactly the way we think they should. With this as a starting point, we can all begin with a clean slate.
The Bible says, "Say to them, 'This is what the Lord says: "'When people fall down, do they not get up? When someone turns away, do they not return?” ’ ” (Jeremiah 8:4 NIV).
If the Bible tells us that we will fall down, we can believe it. It also tells us that we can get back up afterwards. We can put this fear aside and know that we will fail and make mistakes. It is during these times when we can show others how to get back up and continue doing God’s good work.
As Christian women leaders, let’s face our phobias and lead with excellence. When God allows us to do His work, we can walk in His strength without fear of leading.
Claudia Johnson, CWLC Leadership Consultant