Fear often has a negative connotation, but like any emotion, it can drive us to do remarkable things and make a positive impact. Fear should also play a role in our walks with Christ and our approach to leadership. In this blog, Dr. Dennis Robinson explains what it means to truly fear the Lord from a biblical perspective and through the lens of some of his own life experiences. Referencing the book of Proverbs, he expounds on the notion that fearing the Lord is truly the beginning of all knowledge and the key to effective leadership.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” Proverbs 1:7 (New International Version)
I feel like all Christian leaders would agree with this statement. Throughout my life, since my conversion at age 9, if you had asked me if I feared/respected the Lord, I would undoubtedly have answered ‘yes.’ However, now that I am 64 and am looking back on 55 years of walking with the Lord and 53 years of Christian leadership, I have to say that I failed to truly fear the Lord and make Him the foundation of all my knowledge all of the time. And looking at how people lead, I would have to say that for many, even leaders who proclaim Christianity, and leaders in the church, the Lord is not their foundation, but a large amount of their ego is.
Jesus must be #1.
"You must not just discipline yourself to spend time with Him and his written word; you must want to."
If you don’t want to, you’re not in love. What kind of man loves a woman but never wants to spend time with her? It’s not a love relationship if you don’t want to be together and miss it terribly when you cannot. When my wife and I first started dating, she was a resident at a college some 90 miles away. We missed each other terribly and looked forward to every weekend we could be together. We even wrote “snail mail” letters during the week, and hers always smelled of Ciara—her favorite perfume! We were sickeningly in love!
Jesus wants that kind of relationship with you. Love is what the church at Ephesus lacked (Rev. 2: 1-7). In this passage, we read about a church that seemed to be doing all the right things: they worked, labored, couldn’t tolerate evil, challenged apostasy, and endured and tolerated many things for the name of Christ and did not grow weary. From these acts alone, we would consider the church at Ephesus to be highly successful. Yet Jesus told them he had this against them: they had “abandoned the love [they] had at first” (v4). He told them to repent and do their first works, or He would come and remove their lampstand. He made it clear that He was not interested in a works relationship; He wanted love.
I’m deployed; where is Jesus?
I remember well when I first discovered I lacked this love relationship with Jesus. You see, I grew up in the church, not just going every time the doors were open, but learning to do God’s work from the age of 12; I was very busy in the church. Then, after I entered the Air Force and left on my first deployment and there was no church available, I found myself lost spiritually. And, that’s when I had to face some difficult truths. I realized that I had a great relationship with the church but not much of one with Jesus. But it was through this realization that He lovingly helped me to build it with Him, and from there I began to develop a deep love for His word and spending time with Him.
Solomon’s fear=New Testament love.
I believe this relationship is the New Testament equivalent of Solomon’s “fear of the Lord.” In his day, Solomon could only go to the temple for sacrifice and corporate worship. God was behind the veil. Jesus tore the veil in two and let God out of the box—now He desires daily communion once again with His children.
The fear of the Lord—that love relationship with Him is truly the beginning of all knowledge. Leaders, take the time to develop it.
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