Episode 255:

The Question Behind the Question

Grief, Pain, and God’s Presence

November 8, 2022

The question behind the question Leading through grief, pain, and focusing on God's Presence with transforming mission

Church leadership is exciting, challenging, and filled with questions. The question behind the question seeks to explore how Christian leaders address, guide, and lead others through the questions we’re facing today.

Often, the question that is verbally asked is not the question that needs to be addressed. In this first episode of this miniseries, explore the question behind the question of grief and loss. Leaders, when you’re facing loss and grief, it’s important to remember where to start.  Here’s what you’ll experience in this episode.

The Shock of Grief

“My servant Moses is dead” (Josh 1:2)

We’ve all been there. The call comes, whether it’s expected or unexpected. There’s always a moment of shock when there is loss.

Imagine the shock of this moment for Joshua. He was Moses’ right-hand man.

There’s personal grief and corporate grief, and you’re trying to navigate all of it emotionally and spiritually. There’s a tension that is present.

Grief Makes us Pause

Yahweh tells Joshua, “My servant Moses is dead. Now, get ready to cross over the Jordan with this entire people to the land that I’m going to give to the Israelites. I’m giving you every place where you set foot exactly as I promised Moses.” – Joshua 1

It’s a moment that many of us would say, “God, where’s the pause button?  Hang on. Do you just see what happened? And now you’re telling me to get up and go? Can I just have a moment? Do you have any compassion?”

Perhaps this is one of the moments for you, personally or professionally. Sometimes it’s as simple as opening the news app on your phone and seeing tragedy and division in every headline. There is pain. There is loss. There is grief swirling at every moment.

This isn’t just crazy 2022 getting a little out of control because it’s election time, Joshua experienced it too. It’s a human dynamic.

Joshua Leads Through Grief

So maybe Joshua can help us here. Joshua steps into leadership and simply does what God is asking. Consider that for a moment. Joshua is so in touch with God that in a moment of grief and pain, when God asks what seems impossible, Joshua simply does it. Now you already know there was nothing simple about doing what God’s asking.

Especially when you’re leading, especially when there’s fear and risk. There’s nothing easy about that at all.

Let’s also be clear, Joshua was facing risk. There will be more battles, more enemies, and let’s not forget, there’s grief lingering in the air.

It’s a moment where Joshua’s faithfulness is tested and his leadership is stretched. He leads, in the midst of grief and pain, and difficult decisions. Joshua leads.

This might be hitting a little close to home for some of you because maybe you’re there right now. In the midst of your grief, your pain, and difficult decisions, God continues to call you to lead people. So what will you do?

  • Will you phone a friend?
  • Or will you retreat?
  • Will you go into overdrive?
  • Will you become even more focused?
  • Or will you advance without much consultation?
  • Will you go through the motions?
  • Or will you seek God?

An Adaptive Leadership Moment

This is a moment that determines who you are as a follower of Jesus. This is a moment that defines who you are as a leader. So on top of the pain and the grief, you may be feeling the pressure.

So here are some questions to consider:

  • How have you responded in the past?
  • What are your patterns?
  • Are you self-aware enough to know there are patterns to recognize who you need around you?
  • And what do you need to move through the season of this pressure and grief as a leader?

This is an adaptive leadership moment. There are no clear answers. You’ll likely get some of it right. You may mess a few things up. You’ll probably learn even more. No, we don’t have three steps to take to answer your leadership questions about grief and pain.

But what we do have is a reminder. God’s presence and guidance in Joshua’s life were essential. God’s presence and guidance led the way. There isn’t another way. He was able to get moving and lead because of God’s presence and guidance.

John 17 – Jesus is Present

Turn to the New Testament. In John 17, Jesus is an example of presence and comfort. The prayer Jesus prays is a reminder of God’s presence and comfort. God’s wisdom and guidance are available to you today. No one can take it away from you. No circumstance of grief or pain makes it null and void. Jesus prays for himself. Jesus prays for his disciples and Jesus prays for all the believers. Jesus prays for unity and joy in God’s presence to be with the believers.

So are you hearing it? God is present in the midst of grief, change, pain, and frustration. God is present. Daily, you make important decisions. In this season of life and ministry, there are many who are trying to tell you how to think, how to feel, and how to respond. Some are trying to divide along red and blue lines.

Some are trying to make enemies of people who think and behave differently, but the love of God we know in Jesus is available to each and every one of us, even to the ones who simply want to stir the pot.

God’s presence and comfort are something that no one can take away from us. So as you think about that for a moment, maybe you’ll phone a friend to simply explore how you are handling grief or pain in your life. Or maybe you’ll take a few minutes to reflect. Important moments and decisions are in front of you.

The Question Behind the Question

The question isn’t how will you handle the grief, pain, and leadership challenges at this moment. The question behind the question is: How will the Spirit of the living God we know in Jesus be incorporated into everything that you do at this moment?

Please hear us. Grief and pain are real, and yes, we need to address the pain and grief. As a spiritual leader, that begins with remembering and embracing God’s presence…in every situation and circumstance.  In the midst of the challenges that you are facing now, spend time exploring what God is saying to you and how God is leading you.

Joshua could not lead through these moments if his relationship with God had not been strong and grounded.

If you are in a relationship with Jesus, that will come through in the midst of the pressure. Because the pressure on the outside will bring out what’s on the inside And that’s really what’s behind the question, is that where’s your life? Who is the leader of your life? Where, where is your life rooted? In whom is it rooted? Because when you face pain, grief, and pressure who you are is how will you respond and who you are is how you’ll lead.

Joshua helps us find our way to be who God created us to be.