Leadership When God is Silent

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Bobby Clinton observes that most leaders invariably hit a time, usually in mid-career, when they confront a “faith challenge” and ask questions such as: “Is God really real? Does he do what he says? Can he be trusted?”

“I do not have hard data on this just intuitive insight from observing leaders over the years and anecdotal confirmation along the way as I deal with leaders. But Biblically I teach it from Habakkuk. Habakkuk is a typical leader who faced a faith challenge mid-career. Habakkuk is a core book for me from which I teach on this notion of a faith challenge.

…teach on this to leaders in CRM as you inspire them to stay with it and respond positively to God’s faith challenges that come their way.”


I’ve seen this spiritual dynamic in the lives of others and I’ve experienced it myself. I saw it from a distance with John Wimber when his British colleague and friend, David Watson was dying. I’ve heard it described by personal friends and colleagues.

And of course, Mother Teresa’s spiritual pain, which was revealed so transparently last year in Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light, is a riveting example of this dynamic where she was quoted as saying:

“… as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand.”

In all these experiences, Clinton is right that the ancient words of Habakkuk speak with contemporary relevance:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines,
Though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food,
Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

3 Responses to “Leadership When God is Silent”

  1. Tom Middleton Says:

    It seems the boundary phases (Leadership Emergence Theory, Clinton) leaders experience throughout their lives is preparation for the silence of mid-career that God uses to stretch our faith and courage to follow Him when we don’t see an appropriate or good end in sight. This silence seems to stretch the leader into understanding the complexities of life on the journey with God in ways they never experienced before; only perhaps read about; ala C.S. Lewis.

    Two people who have modeled this well have been you and Paul R. When I first came in to CRM both of you were in the desert and being pummeled watching close people around you in significant pain and very difficult circumstances. Even with all that, you both led, and led from what you knew God had said, despite God’s seemingly silent posture.

    The outcomes though have been very significant. Your understanding of the realities others face who are experiencing emotional and physical struggles or crisis has enabled you to lead with a profound compassion and patience. You now can bring a tender touch to those who are hurting as never before, and that, in part, has helped aid the healing process.

    I am grateful for the transparency you two have modeled over the years to me and probably others. It helps me brave my own storms, or the loud deafening silence of God.

  2. Mike Says:

    Sam, Stop reading my journal! :-) You spoke my soul’s cry.

  3. Sam Says:

    Tom, thanks for your kind words and the affirmation. You’re a dear friend and I value greatly the parts of the journey that we share.

    Mike, rest assured that God will meet you. I just saw Gary Mayes last night and he was deeply impressed with his time with you and yours in New Orleans. In the midst of the present chaos and particularly the financial pressure, God will inevitably do things that otherwise would never happen. Despite the pain, you’re in the right spot!

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