When A Leader Has Doubts

All leaders have doubts.

As Christian leaders, we want to have faith to move mountains, but sometimes our faith is too small. What makes that happen? Why can’t we believe big all the time?

Among the common reasons for doubt are things like:

  • You’ve prayed and didn’t get the answer you hoped for.
  • You worked hard, but the idea or program didn’t work.
  • People have let you down or hurt you.
  • A staff member turned on you.
  • You’ve never done a certain thing before.
  • You are trying to do too much alone.

Most of the time, however, doubt resides within a leader, not outside or connected to circumstances.

Doubts come in three primary categories:

(Isolating the category helps you conquer the specific doubt.)

1) Personal Doubts

You might question yourself. Perhaps you are unsure of yourself. You may tend to overthink some things which burns even more energy. This can lead to wondering or even worrying about what people think of you as a person. Whether this begins or ends with insecurities, the result is the same.

Short term or occasional personal doubt is normal, but can’t be allowed to take root. Long-term personal doubt is unhealthy, and I strongly encourage you to talk about it with a trusted mentor or counselor.

2) Leadership Doubts

In short, you’re not sure what to do, so you second guess your leadership. All leaders experience this at times. For example, it might be that you are not entirely confident about a staff or financial decision you need to make, and the deadline is coming soon. This is a common experience.

When you experience this, you may wonder if you have the right stuff to pull it off. You do. The key here is to not keep it all inside yourself. Don’t try to do it all alone. Pride can take you out!

Take time to get wise counsel. That will help immensely. Then compare the thoughts of your counsel to your thoughts. You will either receive a confirmation which will boost your confidence, or you will learn. Either way, your experience is deepened, and you are a better leader.

3) Faith Doubts

I’ve never met a leader that didn’t wonder “Where is God in all this?” The doubt I’m referring to here is not about your salvation or God’s existence. It’s more about an occasional doubt of God’s immediate presence or trying to understand His will in a matter. This can leave you uncertain about your faith as a leader.

Let me share one of my favorite Spurgeon quotes that helps me when I experience a faith doubt.

“God is too good to be unkind. He is too wise to be confused. If I cannot trace His hand, I can always trust His heart.”

C.H. Spurgeon

I may not always know or understand God’s plan, but I trust his heart – I trust his love for the church and me completely. I can rest in that truth, and trust Him until I gain clarity.

A practical plan to battle doubt:

There is no simple “3 steps to conquer doubt.” Doubt never disappears completely. But you don’t have to let doubt conquer you. Doubt can become more like a common cold. It’s a nuisance, but you know what to do, and in a week to ten days it’s gone!

Here are some ideas to help you in the battle.

Get honest about your doubts.

You can’t win the battle if you don’t own the issues. Where does doubt eat your lunch? Which kind is the most common for you? Put that on the table and take intentional action. You don’t have to make this point a big project, your awareness and honestly alone is a big help.

Allow doubt to be normal, but not a consistent habit.

I’m not suggesting that you surrender to your doubts, but give yourself a break by acknowledging that some doubt is normal. However, never allow your doubts to become a lifestyle or gain traction as a pattern. Again, talk with someone.

Don’t let doubt become worry.

Doubt is a question in your mind; worry can own your soul. You can get an answer to the question, and worry can significantly marginalize your ability to lead. Doubt is something that you can attack, worry is something that attacks you.

Don’t confuse doubt with negativity.

When you hear someone say to your idea or vision or belief, with a little attitude, “I doubt it.” That’s not doubt, that’s negativity. Don’t let anyone’s negativity cause you to doubt. Always consider the source.

Talk to a trusted mentor.

I’ve mentioned this several times, and let me repeat it. One of the simplest and best ways to beat up your doubts is to get a little time with someone you trust. The two qualifiers are; first, they need to be strong. They must be able to tell you the truth. Second, they must be smart. They have a track record of wisdom.

Ask God to increase your faith.

This one is last because it’s the most important. Ask God to help you conquer your doubt by increasing your faith. God can and will help you increase your faith in yourself, your leadership, and in His intimate presence and desire to grant you favor!

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