Jonah’s story should end with his dying in the water, but it doesn’t. God’s not going to let him get away like that. The first chapter of Jonah ends with this: “Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”
Can you imagine what Jonah had to be thinking? Something like “you have GOT to be kidding me! Seriously God?? Swallowed by and then living inside a big fish?? For 3 DAYS?” Think about the smell alone…
Jonah’s not going to get away from his assignment; God’s not done with him yet. And sitting in that fish, for three days and nights, Jonah finally understands that. He finally understands that God’s not going to let him run away from this. He’s going to have to do it.
Have you ever been in a place where you knew what you should do, but you just didn’t want to do it? I think we all have. And there comes a point when we realize that we just have to step up and do it even though we’d rather be 1000 miles away doing just about anything else. Tarshish was the end of the known world at the time of Jonah. He’d rather have run to the end of the world than go to Nineveh.
Let me ask you a question. What’s your Nineveh?
Leaders, so often we know what needs to be done. We know the next right thing to do, but for whatever reason, we would rather run to the end of the world than do it. Why is that? I think it’s because we avoid conflict with every fiber of our being.
That volunteer is not working out in that position – but we’d rather spend an hour surfing Facebook or doing something far less important than have that conversation.
That employee is not working out – but we put off the conversation that needs to be had and justify it by saying, “maybe things will change.”
We know that department or ministry area is not bearing fruit – but we’d rather just focus on what’s working right than shut down the unfruitful one and make those folks unhappy.
That business decisions looms large in front of us, and we know in our gut what we need to do – but we delay day after day, because we know the repercussions of making the decision could be huge.
I can think of so many times when I’ve avoided a problem that I knew needed to be dealt with because I didn’t want to deal with the mess. And every time I did that, I ended up dealing with it eventually anyway – and it made a much bigger mess than if I’d just acknowledged it and dealt with it at the first.
This mentality is not limited to church leadership. No matter the organization or business, it’s very tempting to run the other way from something that we know needs doing.
Part of good leadership is running toward the problem, not away from it. And sometimes, it takes a few days in the fish before we are willing to do what we know we need to do.
Excerpted from Lead: Leadership Lessons from the (Not So) Minor Prophets. Copyright © 2014 by William Attaway. Used by permission of Erial Press.