“What you have heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.” 2 Timothy 1:13-14 (A letter from his mentor Paul)

When a leader feels pressure and has to make a decision, there is little or no time to decide on core convictions in that moment. So, the leader makes the call based on the convictions he has already established. That can be good or bad, depending on who has primarily influenced them. If they have had healthy mentors, the chances of a healthy decision are greatly improved. If they have had flawed influence, the opposite can be true.

Peacetime is the best time to establish core values and convictions. The best sailors prepare their boats for storms while in the harbor, not in the gales of hurricanes. In fact, most boats sink because there was little preparation before the storm, even though the sailors knew full well that storms were coming.

Leaders know there are times of calm and times of chaos. I have experienced both while serving my congregation here at New Life Church. Just 100 days after I arrived as pastor, in December 2007, we were attacked by a young man with gun and two of our young girls were killed in the parking lot after our Sunday gatherings. That was no time to decide on my core values and convictions.

Instead, what I had been taught rose to the surface and shaped my decisions. Only later did I realize how much I appreciated the sound leadership wisdom I had received in the years before from men like Robert Morris, Jimmy Evans, and Tom Lane. I had no choice at that moment but to lean upon what I had already learned from them. I share a lot of these learned life lessons in my book Sons and Daughters if you want to read more.

Since that fateful Sunday, I have become a student of leaders under pressure. Almost always, they make decisions under pressure based upon the influencers who most defined them. Sometimes that is great and sometimes that is disaster.

The seas are calm at New Life today and I am grateful. This is the time for me to learn from healthy leaders, to grow, and to mature. I presume other storms will arrive, along with the pressure to make critical decisions. My prayer for all of us is that we make those decisions under the influence of the Holy Spirit and from the wisdom and health of the leaders God has sent us along the way.

Questions for us to consider:

Who are we learning from right now?

Are they healthy leaders? Is their home and marriage healthy? Is their walk with Christ healthy?

Have their leadership convictions stood the test of storms?

What are our core values? Will these values survive the inevitable trials of life?

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