“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” — Matthew 10:28

What a crazy verse. It stuck in my mind since the first time I noticed it. Funny how you can read the Bible many times and not see something. Anyway, there’s a lot I can say about this verse, but let me put it in a leadership context, starting with a look in the mirror.

Like many leaders, I’m a people-pleaser. Frankly, approval is my idol. I’m far too concerned with what other people think of me most of the time. I therefore make decisions out of fear — maybe not fear of bodily harm, but certainly fear of falling out of favor or losing face.

So when Jesus asks, “What’s the worst that could happen?” it convicts me of my idolatry. I recall Lincoln’s reminder that you can only please some of the people all of the time. But maybe he missed the point. I shouldn’t be concerned with pleasing anyone ever. I resonate with Sara Groves’ song about an Audience of One. There’s only One who I need to please. And only One I need to be afraid of. After all, what’s the worst that anyone else can do to me? Hurt me? Kill me? Where I come from, neither of those is even likely.

It takes courage to lead. Courage to make a decision and stick with it even if no one else thinks it’s the right thing to do. If my fear of anyone else’s opinion guides my decision-making, then I’m taking a great risk, especially if I’m not honest about my priorities.

I guess that’s why they call it bowing to public opinion.

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