2018: Year of God’s Presence


Fear not, for I am with you

Isaiah 41:10


Over the next several weeks as we start 2018 I plan to look at God’s special role for us as leaders. Often we become so focused on what we must do to succeed that we forget what He does through us so we can succeed. Many times we become so gripped by the fear of failure or anger over our inferiority that we lose confidence and become discouraged. So at the beginning of 2018 our aim is to transform our fear into freedom, our inferiority into confidence, and our emptiness into God’s fullness for us as leaders. Today’s blog focuses on a sense of God’s presence that delivers us from fear.


Fear dominates many leaders, and those who claim they are unafraid deceive themselves. When a person has responsibility for the well being of large numbers of families, the spiritual health of hundreds of people, the eternal well being of an entire community, and the aims of a business or ministry, there is no way he can escape feeling afraid. Fear becomes more dominant when a leader’s identity depends on success, when what she or he does determines who she or he is. What can leaders do about fear?


The ancient prophet Isaiah wrote words that made his people fearful, so he gave them insights about God that freed them from their struggle, and these words deliver modern leaders as well. The prophet wrote us a message from God.


Fear not for I am with you (Isa. 41:10).


Fear has many forms. It may be


an actual fear or an imaginary fear,

a rational fear or an irrational fear,

a potential fear or an established fear,

a small fear or an overwhelming fear,

a deserved fear or an undeserved fear,

a temporary fear or a lasting fear,

a known fear or a secret fear,

a deserved fear or an undeserved fear.


Whatever form fear takes, we have every right to be afraid apart from God’s presence. As leaders we face overwhelming responsibilities and have tasks we cannot do no matter how talented and experienced we are. Left to ourselves we will fall short of our targets unless we learn to overcome ourselves. So how do we overcome ourselves when we feel fear, become angry, and take it out on others? Let me give you some steps that have set me free from fear. I am certain they will do the same for you.


1. Remember that as a leader you constantly face responsibilities you can never do even though God demands them of you.


2. List your fears, make certain you identify them, and don’t try to hide any of them.


3. Focus on God’s greatness, God’s faithfulness, and God’s promises until you gain the peace His presence brings you.


4. Thank God that He is with you as a leader and works through you no matter how you struggle or feel you fail Him.


5. Remember He did not call you to lead because of what you can do for Him but because of what He can do through you—a radical new insight for many leaders.



6. Remember God never lowers His standards, His expectations, or His demands; He never gives us anything we can do apart from Him.


7. Instead of lowering His demands, He lifts His leaders up to His level, reveals His glory through them, and accomplishes His purposes in amazing ways they can never do.


8. Once you remember these truths consider what He wants you to do, ask Him how to do it, begin to plan, and implement the steps He gives you by trusting Him.


9. Keep moving forward according to His direction, pursue His aims, stop and evaluate what He is doing through you, discern His new steps, and go forward.


10. Involve others with you as He directs you to, turn all you do into discipling and forming the leaders He entrusts to you, and constantly repeat this process.


Fear is God’s message that He has more to do through you than you can do or think He can do, but you are wrong: you can’t lead the way He wants you to lead, but He can lead the way He wants to lead through you.




Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International, Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where he served full-time for twenty-four years (1981-2005). During this time he also was the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership for twelve years.