I admire boldness in a person, don't you?
Have you ever considered what it takes to arrive at that point and then live it out once you have committed to it? Anyone can talk boldly. Anyone can take the first step. Anyone can announce it. But what does it take to finish the task, complete the mission, and succeed?
In fact, the thing that we don't admire is someone who declares boldness, but does not consider the cost of time, effort, commitment, or even the money involved. They talk big before they count the cost and prepare their minds and hearts. Then, when it becomes clear that they have spoken too quickly, they have to come up with excuses, when, in fact, they had not considered the implications of their heated excitement in the first place.
By the way, don't for a moment think I’m talking down to the guilty. I have a sanguine personality, and get excited about everything. I can formulate a vision in a moment’s time. Sometimes it’s just me dreaming. Other times it is the Lord speaking. But either way, a behind the scenes process is usually required before I can make big announcements. No matter your personality, your experience and wisdom will eventually catch up with you. Getting burned a few times will temper your over-reach. It did mine.
Over 25 years ago I planted a church with a handful of people. That was bold… and it was right. But be careful when you are in the mood to be bold. After coming back from a big pastor's conference only weeks after starting the church, I boldly (stupidly) announced that we would grow 500 people in one year. What an exciting day! ...What a disappointing year. I had no clue as to what that meant. I had no plan, no strategy, and no substance in my mind or heart. I was just excited about planting a church.
Now there are times when you don't have a choice. Life Church Buffalo, which I now pastor, was planted overnight - literally. The process of me thinking about it, discussing it, the belief that I should do it, the decision to do it, and the official public announcement of it, all happened between a Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, the next day. And we are here ten years later, planning for an even bolder future.
Now you’d call that bold. But what you don't know is that it was the agreed solution to a complicated need. It was an obvious "God thing." It was discussed, confirmed and acted upon in cooperation with proper authority, albeit "fast and furious." I was well-equipped to plant a church. I had done it before. Without any planning on my part, God had arranged the pieces and had prepared me without my even realizing it.
For me, it was simply obeying what I knew was right on that very day. Some said I should have taken more time to pray about it. But why pray about something you already have the answer to, and the faith for? There are circumstances where you don't have time to think about it. You just have to be ready in your heart to act boldly in the moment.
When you do, be sure you are clear in your heart before you open your mouth. The Lord gave us such powerful confirmation, we knew that we knew that we knew it was the right thing to do.
Carol McLeod, my wife, is the founder and CEO of Just Joy! Ministries. This weekend she is hosting a conference for Women called "BOLD." Every seat in the house will be taken by the female gender. Women will come from five different states to participate. Jesus will be worshiped. The Word of God will be taught. Ladies will be prayed for. Lives will be changed.
Now you can't hold a conference called "BOLD" unless you know what you’re talking about.
Can I be a proud husband for a minute?
I live with this woman. She is not just "bold" in the sense that she talks big. She is bold behind the scenes. Her faith is big and strong, but always calculated with planning and team work. She studies. She prays. She gathers leaders and trains them. She dreams big and then plans ahead. When she announces something, it usually has had months of undergirding before the general public even knows about it.
Carol is currently publishing her sixth book, with more on the way. She is a hostess on a major Christian television network. She produces radio nationwide. She travels America and the world speaking at women's events and conferences. She teaches weekly women's Bible studies. She writes articles for a major Christian magazine and devotionals for a worldwide internet application. And did I mention that she is a pastor's wife, a mother of five, and grandmother of seven? Oh, yeah… She also has a husband to take care of (her toughest assignment).
How did she get here?
All of it is the result of hard, focused work. Yes, it takes boldness to get out there and be confident with people, publishing companies, and ministries and convince them she is the real deal. It takes boldness to speak in front of thousands of people or meet with leaders of national ministries.
What you don't see is what I see every day. Behind the scenes, she is one focused lady. She does everything with purpose. If it does not fit the purpose, then she does not have time for it. That's not an easy way to live. Both Carol and I often have to say no to things that we do not have time to do because our schedule is full of the things it takes to make good on the bold actions that we have committed to. Not everyone understands that - or necessarily likes it. But it’s the way it is.
Jesus lived that way. He acted boldly. But behind the bold, He stayed focused and prepared. He was known to stay up all night praying, even it meant missing the boat launch to travel across the lake. So He walked on water to get there. I wonder how many miracles we miss because we do not live effectively behind the boldness.
Jesus left large, demanding crowds of needy people to get to the next city when He knew God was calling Him. He narrowed His close friendships to only a few. He spent most of His time training those who would take His ministry beyond His tenure. He was bold in the public arena. But that would have never been effective if He were not focused in His private world.
If you are going to be bold, then you have to live bold behind the bold. Because in the end, it is not the excitement that sustains... it is the purpose fulfilled, the people impacted, and the lives changed. That's the reward of not just talking bold, but living bold behind the bold.
What God told Joshua before conquering the Promised Land reinforces my point.
6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.
7 Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
In other words, be bold, but do what it takes behind the scenes to sustain your boldness, finish the mission, and have good success.
To be bold, you must be bold behind the bold!