Right-sized followers of Jesus – with Mike Bullard

Right-sized followers of Jesus – with Mike Bullard

Recently I was able to attend a seminar with Steve Cuss who has written the book “Managing Leadership Anxiety.” From Steve’s writings, it is obvious that we all experience anxiety in our leadership settings. We are likely to exhibit an anxious response when we find ourselves in a spot where we don’t know what to do next or find ourselves outside our comfort zone. When that happens, what do we do?

For some of us, we respond to the anxiety by becoming larger, louder, more aggressive, more structured in our approach. We figure that, if we control the situation, then the anxiety will likely go away and we can fix the situation. Whilst this might seem like the response of a strong leader, it can often diminish the voice of others and remove many good options from the table because we took control and didn’t let anyone else have a say or have a go. The surge of adrenaline and activity we feel as we take control can cover the anxiety over. We made sure the situation was resolved. But the anxiety is likely to come up again – we’ve just pressed it down. We are likely, if a similar situation comes up, to diminish the voice and contribution of others in our desire to keep things together and under control.

Other people manage anxiety by shrinking back, withdrawing, not offering their opinion. The anxious feelings act to shut us down. Others might then have to step in and cover our role if we are leaders. We become smaller, quieter, less prominent. If others are depending on us for direction, we will likely fail them. 

Both the “becoming larger” and the “becoming smaller” responses to anxiety are unhelpful. What Jesus needs is “right-sized” followers. Not those who become larger. Not those who become smaller. But those who acknowledge that they experience anxiety, are able to recognise it, and draw upon the comfort and security they have in Christ to respond even in their anxious state.

As David said in Psalm 23:5 “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Note that the enemies are not taken away. God may choose not change the situation that causes us anxiety. But, even in the situation, we can experience the “prepared table.” We haven’t had to destroy our enemies by controlling them or shutting them down, nor have we had to run from them. Instead, we’ve been able to think, and act, and experience God’s grace even when our anxiety is present. This gives us another option – we don’t have to take control, we don’t have to run. We can take a stand, and experience God’s grace, and be equipped to lead even in the midst of the anxious situation.