“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” 2 Corinthians 3:17
When God’s presence shows up in an environment, He creates freedom. Sadly, this truth remains a mystery to a lot of people, because in so many places that claim to have God showing up, there’s anything BUT freedom.
I think this has a lot to do with the style of leadership we experience most common in human society—and unfortunately, in the church. The priorities of leadership are largely responsible for shaping the culture in any given environment. Think about the leaders around you—parents, employers, supervisors, church leadership, ministry team leaders, etc. Would you say their top priority is to create a free place for the people they are leading? If you are a leader, is freedom your top priority? Probably not.
As a general rule, leaders are thinking about producing a particular result, and they’re pretty freaked out about it. You may have heard about this spot in your brain called the amygdala. When you get startled, scared, or threatened, your amygdala fills up with juice, and you can’t think anymore. Anxiety overrides your ability to be free. It locks you into a “fight or flight” survival mode, in which your one priority is to find a way to control the situation and its outcome. Guess whose amygdalas are usually the most jacked up in any environment? The leaders’. As a result, they end up operating not in the Spirit of freedom, but in the spirit of fear. This causes them to broadcast one simple message into their environment: “This is not a safe place.” Without a safe place, freedom cannot grow.
Many people project this fear-driven, controlling leadership style onto God. However, nothing could be further from reality. Whenever the Spirit of God is truly leading in an environment, one message comes through loud and clear: “This is a safe place.”
Isaiah 54:10 says:
“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you. (ESV)
The “covenant of peace” God has with us is a covenant of shalom. When you look up the word shalom in the Hebrew lexicon or concordance, one of the first definitions you’ll see is “safety.” God is essentially saying, “I will never remove a safe place from you.” God is a safe place, but we—especially we leaders—have to learn to live there. We have to allow the steadfast love of our Father to truly cast out all fear in our hearts and set us free, so that we can lead others in His Spirit and with His priorities!
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