The general consensus about leaders is they should be bold, strong and decisive. Ask someone to describe the kind of the leader they want to follow, and you’ll be probably get an answer resembling William Wallace.
But the best leaders in the Bible weren’t oozing with confidence
- Moses climbed the mountain or laid in the tent every time a decision had to be made.
- Abraham was flexible and attentive enough able to call an audible when the ram showed up in the bushes.
- The disciples decided who would replace Judas by praying and throwing dice (huh?)
- Paul changed his travel plans regularly after a dream during the night.
While skimming through Leviticus and Numbers the other day one verse caught my eye:
Moses answered them, “Wait until I find out what the Lord commands concerning you.”
The context of this statement is Moses and the children of Israel had been in the desert a short time, and the people were still processing and interpreting all of the new laws given by God. You had a brand new nation in transit and a relatively inexperienced leader when the people became unsure of what to do and needed Moses to make a decision… and he made one. His decision was to delay the decision.
Moses was older and wiser now. He had learned his lesson. He was decisive once before when he thought an Egyptian soldier needed to be killed. That didn’t end well for him.
In the book Contrarian’s Guide To Leadership, Steven Sample discusses this same idea. He says that, contrary to popular belief, the greatest war generals in our history were not decisive men. When a decision had to be made about a battle plan, their first question was usually, “How much time do I have?” They would wait until the last possible moment to make a decision, because they knew just how important of a decision it was.
“How much time do I have?” maybe that’s the first question every leader should ask when faced with a decision.
If you and I were to look back on the poor decisions of our past, I bet we would find that we made them in haste. Initial inspiration can be so convincing, but making important decisions quickly can be dangerous.
I know you feel you have to build a new building, but maybe not. I know you want to have a meeting to confront the person who said negative things, but maybe you should sleep on it one more night. There’s nothing wrong with taking more time.
Of course, at some point you’re going to have to make a move, but don’t decide if you don’t have to. If it’s true that those who wait on the Lord will mount on wings like eagles, then it’s also true that those who don’t wait on the Lord will only see things from the ground level. Waiting is the difference between a hurried or higher perspective.
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The next time you feel like you have to convey confidence, consider a different approach, “I’m not sure yet, I’m still praying about it.”