Part 1: Faith
Everyone has faith in something. Some put their faith in their careers, abilities or accomplishments; others in a spouse or children; and many in money.
I briefed my capstone advisor once when we were about twenty-five percent complete with our aircraft design. We explained our design choices, found data online, made our own in specialized software, and ran wind tunnel tests. We put more trust in some data than others.
My advisor bombarded us with questions: Why do you trust this data over that data? How do you know this data is better? How does the software program make its calculations? He told us we needed to know the answers to these questions because we had to make assumptions for some of our design choices. Using our engineering judgement and expertise, we made assumptions that were reasonable and in line with our end-state of making an aircraft. He did not say we were wrong. Instead, he said something I will never forget: your answers are only as good as your assumptions. The same goes with our faith. Faith is only as good as that which we put our faith in.
As a former paratrooper, I had to have faith in my parachute. You can never be one hundred percent certain your parachute will open after exiting an aircraft. So why would anyone jump? Because there is no reason to think otherwise. You only need faith the size of a mustard seed because it is not the size of your faith that matters, but the object of your faith. Put another way, you only need enough faith to get you out the door. It doesn’t have to look pretty, but you do have to get out the door.
What does this have to do with leadership, particularly as a Christian? Everything! The Christian leader must have faith in the Rock of Ages if we are to lead effectively. One day your abilities will let you down. It is exhausting trying to please yourself and your boss. There is nothing more liberating that realizing you don’t work to please your boss, but God instead (Colossians 3:23-24). This is a huge reason why my platoon leader time challenged me so much. I tried to please my bosses and myself, and I made a lot of mistakes. When you put your faith in yourself, and you screw up, your faith becomes shattered. Your soldiers, your boss and even your NCOs will let you down some day. Praise God for these wonderful officers, NCOs, and soldiers who work tirelessly to enable you to be that effective leader. But they are also human and are learning how to lead more effectively. And just the same as you, your bosses, peers, and NCOs need grace.
You might put your faith in treasures, but those can be taken away from you at any second. Consider the parable of the “rich fool” from Luke 12:13-21, who decided in his heart to build even larger barns to store his massive wealth and “take it easy.” Jesus tells us the man’s life would be taken that very night, and “the things you’ve prepared—whose will they be?”
Maybe you will put your faith in all good works you do or have done. In Luke 7:1-10, the Jewish elders pleaded with Jesus to heal the centurion’s servant because of all the good works the centurion had done for the community. However, what makes the centurion’s faith remarkable is he did not put his faith in his works, but in Jesus’ authority to heal.
You will put your faith in something or someone, especially in a leadership position. Where will you put your faith?