Pastors, nowhere in Ephesians 6 are we given any protection for our backsides! I think there’s a good reason for that—we aren’t given permission to retreat.
So the answer to "When should a godly leader retreat?" is "Never!"
Understand, I’m not talking about repentance, a changing of the mind or an encounter of real truth, where we turn from wrong beliefs and actions. I’m talking about turning back from the God path.
We only retreat if we feel we have made a mistake or have acted or moved out of a wrong motivation. Real godly leaders make sure they have room to turn but never retreat. Our movement must always be forward. When we retreat, we turn our unprotected back to our enemy, and that will surely result in injury.
Here are some mindsets I think are vital in keeping a “no retreat, no surrender” leadership lifestyle:
1. Never lose sight of your mission. Our mission is to help people find, follow and be like Jesus. Any activity that doesn’t help in fulfilling our ultimate mission will not be “God powered” and therefore is really powerless.
2. Always listen for God to speak fresh vision. Our mission doesn’t change, but our vision (the next step) will constantly need new adjustments. God only knows what our next step really needs to be, so if we neglect the discipline of hearing God’s voice, we may miss our next move and leave ourselves in losing place.
3. Make sure those running with you are really with you. Those who engage in the battle with you will make the vision or break it. Most of us are so hungry for approval or for someone to just fill a spot or are just plain lonely, we settle for the first person who seems willing and articulates the vision.
Don’t let these fleshly motivations sway you to allow someone to run close to you. Most of them will trip you up!
4. Demonstrate and operate in the supernatural. Faith—real faith—that God breathes into His anointed leaders is a supernatural thing. If you know you are where God told you to be, taking the ground you are taking in the direction He told you to run. Never, ever, ever retreat!
Letting those you lead see you operating in that supernatural faith, will reassure and strengthen them in times of difficulty and doubt.
What, in your role as a leader, most tempts you to retreat?
Artie Davis is the pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in Orangeburg, S.C. He heads the Comb Network and the Sticks Conference. He speaks and writes about leadership, ministry, church planting and cultural diversity in the church. You can find his blog at ArtieDavis.com, or catch him on Twitter @artiedavis.
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