Getting Direction Under Pressure

Every leader has been there—face to face with a situation or a circumstance that requires us to get direction and do something— but we don’t know what to do! I’m talking about real “brain stumpers”— problems that seem to have no logical, immediate answer. When the situation involves your ministry, then your congregation, partners and employees are all looking to you for clarity and direction. You feel the pressure as the leader. What should you do when you need direction because you don’t know what to do?
 
Pressure on all Sides
It often seems like problems come in waves. Have you ever felt like you were surrounded by difficulties? Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, got some dreadful news in 2 Chronicles 20. He and his nation were up against not one, not two, but three ruthless opponents. It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle. (2 Chronicles 20:1) The odds against him were so bad that Jehoshaphat felt immobilized, but not for long. He quickly began to take positive steps to discern God’s direction for his nation. We can learn from his example about what to do when we don’t know what to do!
 
Remain Calm
The first rule you should always abide by when you need direction and don’t know what to do is, “Don’t panic.” It doesn’t matter if you are landing airplanes or hunting wild animals in the bush, and by the way, I’ve done both of those highly dangerous activities.  If your car begins to spin out on an icy street, you need to remain calm. If you get a phone call with bad news about a loved one, stay calm. Never make a decision out of fear or anger. When you make decisions because you are afraid or mad, you will do the wrong things. Psalm 37:8 reminds us to keep ourselves from anger, wrath, and worry- Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. (Psalm 37:8) There are always unintended consequences that come with making a decision based on emotion. When you are confronted with stressful situations and problematic solutions, stay calm! Get before God, read His Word, listen to Holy Spirit and follow peace!
 
Make Sure You’re Right with God
Leaders should always be living a holy life. However, any one of us could miss it. To get direction from God when you don’t know what to do, you must check your heart and your life. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) Before you go any further in your discovery of what to do, start with making sure you don’t have any unconfessed sin in your life!
 
Use your Energy the Right Way
You’re probably familiar with the “fight or flight” mechanism that kicks in when human beings feel threatened. Adrenaline is released, and if you don’t use the energy correctly, it can turn into extreme fear and stress. You may find that you have an excess of energy when faced with trying times. Be sure to use that energy properly.
In 2 Chronicles 20:3-4, we read, And Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. And Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord: even out of all the cities of Judah they came to seek the Lord. (2 Chronicles 20:3-4)
The word that is translated feared in this verse is the Hebrew word yare. It means to be afraid, but it also means to revere or to reverence morally. In other words, Jehoshaphat reverenced God. He chose to give his attention and his effort to the God of all creation rather than giving the nervous energy of worry and fear to his enemies. Good fear in the Bible is a reverential worship and honor of the Lord. Any other fear is not of God because the Bible tells us that perfect love casts out fear, and God is love. Instead of allowing nervous energy to get your stomach wrapped up in knots, take that energy and worship God, praise Him in song, in dance, run around your office if you need to! Revere the One who has the answers. Take the time to seek His face!
 
Reverence God
In 2 Chronicles 20, when three armies surrounded Judah and King Jehoshaphat, he didn’t know what to do, but he got himself and his people in agreement with Psalm 89:7. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that is about him. (Psalm 89:7)
They reverenced God. When you reverence God, you acknowledge His presence. It reminds you that you are not alone.
Reverencing God puts Him above everything else, including your thoughts, fears, and difficulties. When you bow before God and declare that He is God, you are saying, “Lord, you are greatly to be honored. You are bigger than anything that I face. You are worthy to be worshiped regardless of my current challenges. I worship You, Lord!”
 
Listen to God
When you need direction from God, don’t go to Him with your mind already made up! Too many times we want to tell God exactly what to do, how to do it, and when to do it. That’s a little bossy, don’t you think? Don’t be bossy when you don’t know what to do. A lot of Christians talk to the Lord like this, “Look, Lord, you are going to provide for me. I need this job. Do it this way. I need you to speak to this person. I need such and such and such.” If you really want to know what to do about a difficult situation, be sure to stay open to hearing from God.
God will surprise you and do things that you would never have thought of. He’s done it for me several times. He always comes through, but many times it’s not in the way that we expect!
 
The Bottom Line
When you need to get direction from God because enemies of any kind surround you, follow these steps—
1.      Remain calm.
2.      Make sure you’re right with God.
3.      Use your energy the right way.
4.      Reverence God.
5.      Listen to God without telling Him what to do!
 

This article is written by Keith A. Butler