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A friend texted me following a business presentation she’d just sat through for her job that had caused her great grief. It contained ideology and practices that contradicted her faith, and yet no one spoke up or spoke out against it. It was becoming more and more common on a daily basis in her field and was causing great aggravation. She wondered if she was the only one who felt this way. She reached out to me saying that she felt defeated. “It’s taking a toll on me. I need my Christian people this week.”

We face challenges in our communities, in our work, and in our families every day where we wonder if it’s time to speak up or if it’s time to be silent. The Bible encourages leaders to be bold and to be brave when speaking truth, but to always approach conflict with love: “Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” (Ephesians 4:15). 

Why is it so hard to speak up? It’s natural to fear rejection and to feel alone when sharing a different belief or when standing out in the crowd. We want to please people! But in considering others, we must not abandon our desire to please God above all. If we are rejected, it is because they rejected Christ first: “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world” (John 15:18).

I, too, walked into a meeting recently where I knew that sharing my principles with loving boldness would likely lead to rejection. But when I prayed before walking in, I thought about how God asks us to be more concerned with our faithfulness than with the outcome. I asked God to make me faithful to Him and His Word and not to be worried about the outcome of the meeting. I trusted God with whatever the result of the meeting would be. I thanked Him in advance for any lack of faithfulness I may display in the meeting if fear got the better of me, because Christ’s faithfulness would cover me.

I believe that when I came to the meeting, the listeners were expecting me to be angry or to shout. They began with bristling body language and launched into a defense before I spoke my first words. I hope that in the meeting, I was surprising. I hope that Jesus’ light was shining through my words of faithfulness so that it disarmed others in a way they weren’t expecting. My delivery remained respectful. I never cut anyone off or spoke over anyone else. I refrained from hurtful language or words that may cause defensiveness so that the listeners would remain open. I spoke the truth and didn’t lie or hold back, and yet I worked to find common ground wherever I could. In my calm and peaceful delivery of tough opinions, I wanted to give space to the Lord to do His work. It was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t without His Spirit Who promises to live and dwell with us in hard places.

Fear would have made me cancel the meeting. Fear may have caused me to remain silent and let others speak over me. Fear may have caused me to show disrespect to other leaders in attendance. But faithfulness makes room for the Lord. 

My friend struggled in her meeting, but I would encourage her and you with this – The next time you feel yourself walking into a meeting where you’re worried that you’ll stand alone…the next time you’re worried about rejection….the next time you’re afraid no one will listen…ask God to make you a faithful leader who is gracious and gentle but also bold and faithful. The outcome is in His hands.

Check out Lead Like Jesus Revisited to learn more about overcoming fear. 

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