Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fear Drives, Love Compels

What's the fuel that runs your life? What actually "powers" you into action day to day?

I've become convinced that there are only two primary fuels for the human soul:

Fear. And Love.

I visited a church a few weeks back. Great people, kind and clearly passionate about their faith. But after some sweet conversation in the lobby and some deeply resonate worship (love, love, love!), the experience took what was for me a drastic turn. The speaker's message was turbocharged by fear...be afraid of this, be terrified of that, and if you're not petrified by that other thing, then you're just not paying attention. You're much closer to danger than you think, dangling by a thread over a gaping chasm of destruction that only the most intense fervent pleading can save you from. And the crowd totally bought in, or most of them anyway. Tears, desperate prayers. This wasn't about true contrition or repentance (metanoia--beautiful word!). This was about playing the victim role and masquerading it as faith...fueled by fear of life, of Satan, of your own darker urges. The underlying message seemed to be that the holier you are, the more fear-driven you'll be.

Is life supposed to be more about running to, or running from?

I vote "A". For some people, life is mostly about avoiding what you fear. For others, it's mostly about moving toward what you love. We're all afraid of stuff, of course. But feeling afraid and letting that fear be the fuel of your life are two very different things.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (1 John 4:18)

Believe it or not, this is actually a post about leadership. Because whatever fuels your life, fuels your leadership. If you live from fear, then your leadership quickly becomes all about raising alarms, rallying the troops to the latest new danger that must be avoided, playing the victim, the one under siege. It's all reactive; all moving away from things.

But if you live from love, then your leadership becomes about the highest dream, the compelling vision of that thing you and your people long for most, the deeper YES! You forge a community, not of victims, but of free men and women (Galatians 5:1) who have love and have choice, and know how to use them.


Gloria Rose said...

Thank you, Michael, for calling us up to our higher selves.

Michael D. Warden said...

Thanks Gloria. I appreciate the encouragement.

Michelle Brown said...

Awesome post! I love how you address the issue of being reactionary when fear is motivating leadership. Sadly, it happens too frequently, though it doesn't have to. We haven't been given a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind.

Courage is ultimately decision a we make, and we can't really love without it. At least, that's my own personal thought on it.

Michael D. Warden said...

Nice, Michelle. Well said!

Cheryl said...

Awesome Michael! Way to call attention to things we know in our hearts but need to be reminded of. Just read a devotional by Neil Anderson who said somewhat the same thing about Christians who are afraid of demons lurking around every corner. We need not be afraid - the battle is won by the one who loves us and proved it with his life. Awesome power in love in all areas of life!

Michael D. Warden said...

True that, Cheryl. Thanks.

Sandy Fowler said...

Powerful post Michael - and one I discovered too. In fact, I have pulled out of the church I grew up in because of that exact reason; the leadership gives a nod to love but most of the talk and the rules are based on driving people to be good through fear.

Leading others has taught me that I can only live, lead and be happy through love. So that's my new journey.

You said it much more eloquently:) Thanks for reminding me today that this is what my journey is about.

Michael D. Warden said...

Thanks Sandy--it's comforting to know you're on the journey too. Funny how easily we forget that, while fear can make us conform to all kinds of "right" behaviors, only love can set someone free.

Anonymous said...

Flowers don't grow away from the earth (which is after all mostly made of rotted composted dead plants) - they grow TOWARDS the sun.

Just a thought.... ;)

Jenifer said...

Sadly, it happens too frequently, though it doesn't have to.

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