By John Hebert, Louisiana Baptist missions and ministry team leader
ALEXANDRIA, La. – “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8)
This verse describes the exercise of faith as accurately as any in the Bible. Abraham exercised faith by obeying and going. He didn’t even know where he was going, yet he acted. Exercising faith is an essential skill for all church leaders.
In the past year, I have tried to present the skills of successful church planters and church leaders. Hopefully these articles have been of benefit to our readers. The idea behind my writing has been manifold.
— I wanted to present a complete list of necessary skills.
–I wanted to clearly define each skill.
–I wanted to describe them in such a way that individuals could assess their skill development on a practical rather than academic level.
–I wanted to challenge all leaders to continue in the pursuit of skill development.
The skill of exercising faith is harder to describe than to illustrate. In Hebrews 11, however, the writer seems to do both well. The New International Version (NIV) Bible communicates the definition — “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”
To illustrate faith, chapter 11 goes on to give us examples of how faith helped our predecessors to survive and thrive in the face of challenges. Exercising faith is essential to involvement in the Lord’s work at all levels.
The story of David and Goliath is not only one of the best examples but it is also one of the most popular stories in the Bible.
David was visiting his brothers in the army of King Saul when he heard Goliath, the giant of the Philistine army, challenging and cursing Israel every day.
When David heard the challenge, he was sure God would not put up with this blasphemy and probably wondered why “someone did not do something.” When no one came forward about Goliath, he volunteered.
Imagine that! A boy, a mere lad, willing to challenge a giant, by itself, is not faith. It could just be foolishness and to everyone around him it was.
But a boy believing God would not allow this and would strike this warrior down through his actions. Now, that’s faith. He was sure of what he hoped would happen, and certain of what he could not see. He acted in faith, just like Abraham had, and just as we should.
To be successful as a church planter or church leader one must be adept at exercising his faith. This begins with our calling. I’ve often heard people state that leadership is a calling.
There is nowhere this is more true than in pastoral leadership. It all begins with a call to action from the Lord, just like with Abraham, and that call requires obedience and going forward.
As I write this I am reminded of my calling and the actions undertaken when I came to understand and pursue that calling.
Getting my wife, Kitty, on board was easy but preparation for ministry, moving to Fort Worth for seminary, supporting my family (including five kids), going to school full time, working full time, time management and rethinking life were challenging. It required a confidence that God had called me to these tasks, which could only be accomplished by walking in faith.
While this work begins with a call, it certainly doesn’t end there.
Exercising faith is an outgrowth of spiritual vitality. In David’s life there was an obvious vitality to his spiritual life. Many of the Psalms were written by him and much of his life was dedicated to worship and intimacy with God. Samuel the prophet told Saul, “the Lord hath sought a man after his own heart.”
God wanted a leader for his people that would walk with Him, obey Him and would act for Him. That is what exercising faith is all about.
When we exercise our faith, it impacts other people. As a church planter or church leader exercising your faith will draw others to Christ and encourage them to exercise their faith also.