The Light in the Shadow of Uncertainty

By: Bryan Sampson

Uncertainty sure can stir up a lot of different emotions. If you’re anything like me, you have come to realize that life has a lot of unknowns. I find it even more interesting that God intentionally designed our life to be full of uncertainties. This, I believe, is so we can learn to trust Him and become more dependent on Him. So, when looking at leadership experience should we expect it to be any different?

There are three ways to approach the uncertainties we will face as leaders. We can deny them; act like their not even there, we can fear and avoid them, allowing them to cause us to run away from our reality, or we can embrace them with prayer, humility, clarity, and courage, knowing that God goes with us in the shadow of the valley ahead (Psalm 23:4). Understanding the necessity and gifts that the unknown can bring can help us begin to change the way we see the shadows of uncertainties within our lives and ministries. As Stanley (2003) puts it “Uncertainty is a permanent part of the leadership landscape” (p.80), so the need to accept and embrace its presence in our leadership is essential.

First, we must realize we are not God, and thus not omniscient. We will never know everything and exactly what to do in every situation. Leaders don’t have all the answers; they are just humble enough to admit it, able to take an honest look at the situation, and willing to consult others when possible. We have to be okay with not knowing for certain how things are going to turn out and we can’t allow that to stop us from making the courageous decisions that lie ahead.

Second, we can’t think that we are going to eliminate uncertainty. We shouldn’t want to eliminate it. We should see it as an opportunity for God’s glory to be exhibited as we trust in His guidance and providence. We should see it as an opportunity for growth and prosperity. This can help us see why God wants us to be uncertain, it allows us to let me Him lead. It is in times of uncertainty that we are most desperate for God’s presence in our lives. It should be this way in our leadership too. The only way we can be the visionaries and leaders for the next generation is if we get comfortable with the uncertainties that will continue to grow as we continue to improve and advance as a ministry. We should actually be grateful because uncertainty is job security for a leader and proves prior success. The more responsibility and success you attain, the more uncertainty you will be rewarded with.

Lastly, it is imperative for us to learn now how to thrive in times of uncertainty. This is where we must develop the art of clarity within our leadership repertoire. Stanley (2003) describes it as “giving explicit and precise direction in spite of limited information and unpredictable outcomes” (p.80). The times of uncertainty are not times to play around, they are the times when we must be direct and clear with what we are aiming to accomplish and what everyone is supposed to do. Imagine a staff meeting where the art of clarity is being utilized or imagine your leadership where you are communicating with the utmost clarity and precision. What differences would you see? What can you do today to start being more precise and direct with those you’re leading?

Uncertainty is a crucial part of our reality. It is when we have embraced our reality that we can allow God to help us courageously lead others. Remember “the goal of leadership is not to eradicate uncertainty, but rather to navigate it. Uncertainty is a component of every environment that calls for leadership. Where you find one, you will always find the other” (Stanley, 2003, p.84).

Pray with me today that we become confident, clear, and courageous as we embrace and lead others through the uncertainties God ordains.

Works Cited

Stanley, A. (2003). The next geneartion leader: Five essential for those who will shape the future. New York: Multnomah.

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