One of my favorite leadership quotes comes from Robert Quinn’s book, Deep Change: “The land of excellence is safely guarded from unworthy intruders. At the gates stand two fearsome sentries – risk and learning. The keys to entrance are faith and courage.”
This quote, and the rest of Quinn’s book, is challenging and inspirational. It has bolstered my courage, and that of countless others, who are faced with the challenge of leading significant change efforts. But I’ve realized this isn’t enough. It’s not enough because you can’t lead change by borrowing someone else’s courage.
Borrowed courage is often expressed in platitudes. It tends to wilt in the face of opposition. It looks for others to blame when things don’t go well. It jumps from one quick fix to another.
So where does a leader find real courage? It comes from the other “key” in the quote above: faith. Faith is the deep, inner conviction that God is calling us to step out of our comfort zone. It’s the certainty that the status quo is not acceptable, even if we’re less certain about the “right” path forward. It’s the confidence that God is with us and loves us, even when we “fail” by human standards.
Many ministry leaders are “inspiration junkies.” They attend conferences and read books that are full of inspirational ideas. As a speaker and writer, I believe that these events can provide valuable ideas and equipping. But I also know their limitations. So if your context calls for you to lead with courage (which is almost anyone reading this blog), the best place to discover it is in communion with God through Scripture and prayer. That’s where you’ll discover the inner conviction that you need and courage that can be “borrowed” forever.
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