The Priorities of Leadership – Creating a safe place

Danny Silk

“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!




P.S. Today is the last day to get the Foundations of Honor Series for 25% off. To learn more around leadership and honor it’s a great resource to continue your journey. You can find it here. 

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  1. While reading your post, I wans wondering about what this freedom is about. Freedom is not license, and if it is, it is not freedom. In other words: freedom is being free from what?

  2. Years ago I was asked to leave a local assembly … yes kicked out of church! After being out a few years I met this woman who later became my Pastor. When I arrived I confessed that the last place I was in was not positive. She looked at me and said, "This is a safe place, and I know you by the Spirit Theresa." I became one of her Pastors for 11 years. I now have become senior Leader over a new church. There is no other way to lead God’s people except through a spirit of freedom in a safe place. Thank God for this message. Thank God for Pastors like Pastor McCurry and you Danny.

  3. This is great when one is under oppressive or controlling leadership. How does one balance when leadership is so loosy goosy everyone does their own thing and nothing is coordinated resulting in poor results and hurt people. Can you post next time on the opposite extreme of leadership in name only.

  4. Again, I so desire to find some mentors who I could ask what freedom looks like in specific situations with youth. The freedom we’ve given has had some great results and also some very devastating results and some freedoms we simply cannot give because of laws we have to abide by.

    Maybe my real problem is that the boundaries we are putting in place to protect our culture and values are good, but sometimes there is fear accompanying it because of past situations. Maybe I need to keep the boundaries but just get rid of the fear I feel attached to it. Take the emotion out of it.

    Anyone got wisdom for me?

    1. I am also wondering this. At this point I am the leader of my children. I am definitely operating out of fear and control, the way I was parented. I had a major breakthrough at church tonight that I want to live in freedom and then came home to read this. I know it was ordained by God. Also looking for what this looks like and practical steps to get there, as CW is. Thanks.

      1. I would encourage both you and the OP to read through Danny’s "Loving Our Kids on Purpose" (if you have not already) and the Love And Logic Series. And find L&L resources in your community. They are excellent resources for "consulting" children and guiding them to grow in freedom, liberty and their walk with the Lord.

  5. Wonderful mindset. Love the explanation of the amygdala. Scientific understanding of why there’s so much "freaking out."

  6. Very encouraging message. Thank you. I would like to know more on leadership and would want to be a leader like the Lord himself.

  7. I love that you said "Whenever the Spirit of God is truly leading in an environment, one message comes through loud and clear: “This is a safe place.”" I couldn’t agree with you more and that brings me confirmation on so many levels. Thank you for this.

  8. I love that you said "Whenever the Spirit of God is truly leading in an environment, one message comes through loud and clear: “This is a safe place.”" I couldn’t agree with you more and that brings me confirmation on so many levels. Thank you for this.

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