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Audacity for the Right Reasons

Dr. Charles Revis, Executive Minister, ABC of the Northwest

As I witness the transformations taking place in our churches I've noticed a common pattern. The pastors of these churches have stepped up to a higher level of leadership. They've become more focused, full of vision and bolder. You might say they've become "audacious". They are willing to go out on limbs like never before. Their churches are changing because their people are going out on those limbs with them.

Because of fear some people never go out on a limb. Their fear is understandable. There have been more than just a few limbs that have broken while the leader was standing out there all alone. Falling out of a tree hurts. On the other hand there are many instances when the limb has proven to be strong enough to bear the weight. It takes faith to crawl out on a limb, even when you are convinced it's the limb God is calling you to dance on. There is no guarantee the limb will hold. Faith, then, is the hallmark of the audacious.

But some would disagree. They would say that ego is the hallmark of the audacious. In some instances this may be true. We've all witnessed audacious people whose boldness stems from an overdose of narcissism, or even stupidity.

There is an audacity which is courage. On the negative side there is a courage which is impudence and temerity.

There is a short paragraph in the book The Radical Leap that distinguishes between the two.

The difference comes down to love versus ego. Love-inspired audacity is courageous and bold and filled with valor. It's the kind of audacity that's required to change the world for the better. Ego-inspired audacity is just a pain in the a**. In other words, some people are audacious just for the purpose of drawing attention to themselves; they're not concerned about anything other than their image.

As Jesus followers we are called to be audacious out of love for Christ and His Gospel. The Spirit of Christ leads us to be daring and courageous so that people's lives will be changed, the church will grow and the Kingdom will advance. Audacious leaders are finding success in church transformation because of their inspiring and courageous love, along with the daring leaps that are expressions of that love.

On the other hand, there is a type of church leader that pushes hard for church growth and change, because they want to be a success in the eyes of others. They strive for bragging rights. Seldom does such motivation lead to lasting church transformation or growth. We can all be prey to this temptation, and we should guard against it.

Temptation to be audacious out of wrong motives will dog leaders, but that is no reason NOT to nudge the audacious quotient up the scale in our leadership styles. Leadership by definition means getting out in front of the pack. In itself, that can be daunting for some pastors. Yet, when motivated by deep love, for people, for Jesus, for the Kingdom, we will find the courage to make some audacious moves. So, get out there and bust some Holy Spirit inspired moves for the Kingdom! Even if your feet get a little tangled up in the effort, you will make Jesus smile!

Originally published 2009 © Dr. Charles Revis, ABC Northwest
[This article previously appeared on Dr. Revis’ blog, on June 12, 2009]