Every church leader (or Christian for that matter) faces a common paradox. We’re expected to trust God for our personal and ministry needs. Yet, we need the help of others. Leading is not a solo effort. So, ho do we strike the balance between trusting God and trusting others?
Recently I noticed that same paradox reflected in the choices made by two famous Biblical characters, Ezra and Nehemiah. In the Message paraphrase below each one took a different route. One just trusted God and didn’t approach the king for help. The other sought help from the king and God worked through that choice.
Ezra 8.21 I proclaimed a fast there beside the Ahava Canal, a fast to humble ourselves before our God and pray for wise guidance for our journey—all our people and possessions. 22 I was embarrassed to ask the king for a cavalry bodyguard to protect us from bandits on the road. We had just told the king, “Our God lovingly looks after all those who seek him, but turns away in disgust from those who leave him.” 23 So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And he listened.
Neh. 2.7 Then I said, “If it please the king, provide me with letters to the governors across the Euphrates that authorize my travel through to Judah; 8 and also an order to Asaph, keeper of the king’s forest, to supply me with timber for the beams of The Temple fortress, the wall of the city, and the house where I’ll be living.” The generous hand of my God was with me in this and the king gave them to me. 9 When I met the governors across The River (the Euphrates) I showed them the king’s letters. The king even sent along a cavalry escort.
See the difference? As contrasting as were their decisions, they both made God-honoring ones.
So, what insight can we draw from their experiences when we face a similar situation?
Here’s a thought. The next time you face a ministry choice that requires resources or help, lean in the opposite direction you usually go. If you usually just ‘pray’ and ask God to meet the need, perhaps you should ask others to help meet the need as well. If you tend to go to others first, maybe your first step should be to seek God’s provision before you ask others for their help or insight.
I’ve discovered that God often works in counter-intuitive ways, through avenues outside those most familiar and comfortable to us.
What do you think about these two options? Do you think leaders tend to show a bias one way or the other?