Leadership and Decisiveness

I just returned from the premier of "Courageous," the incredible new movie that will be in theaters on September 30. I came away from the movie inspired and convicted. The Sherwood team has done a great job of portraying via the big screen those things that really matter.

The movie ends with the question, “Who will take a stand?”

Indeed that is the question for leaders today.

The Courage of Decisiveness

One of the outstanding resources to accompany the movie is Courageous Living by Michael Catt. In the book, Michael tells the story of Ed Freeman, a helicopter pilot in the Vietnam War. Freeman flew into the middle of enemy fire thirteen times to rescue thirty wounded warriors who would have otherwise died. He would later receive the Medal of Honor for his incredible acts of courage.

You see, Ed Freeman did not have to be the smartest person to know what he needed to do. He did not have to have the most strategic mind or the greatest leadership skills. He did not have to possess the most elite academic credentials.

He had to have courage – the courage to act.

The Power of Decisiveness

Many leaders fail simply because they refuse to make a decision. Some insist on more and more information. They fail as they experience analysis paralysis. Others will not make a decision because they fear failure. Ironically, they experience the failure they feared because of their failure to make a decision.

During the last budget crisis in our nation, millions of people became angry and frustrated with our president and congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle. People were looking for leadership and decisiveness, not gridlock and the blame game.

Though it is certainly possible to act too quickly, to make a decision without even the basic facts, most leaders do not have this problem.

Many leaders fail because they do not make decisions when decisions must be made.

There is power in decisiveness.

Our organizations, our families, and even our nation are pleading for those who will have the courage to act. That is the power of decisiveness.

The Path of Decisiveness

How then, do we become more decisive leaders? May I suggest three initial steps?

First, pray for courage. The decisions we must make will not likely be as dramatic as those of Ed Freeman, who decided to risk his life multiple times to rescue his wounded comrades. But our decisions do have impact on people and the organizations we serve. We cannot be frozen into inaction; we must be decisive.

Second, get the minimal facts necessary to make a decision, but be willing to act without all the information you would like to have. Delays in decisiveness can cripple an organization. On the battlefield, they can result in loss of lives.

Finally, be willing to live with imperfection. You will not make perfect decisions. But you can be assured of failure if you are unwilling to make courageous decisions.

The Example of Decisiveness

The main character in Courageous is a police officer named Adam Mitchell. Various plots and subplots revolve around him, his job, and his family. Ultimately, Officer Mitchell realizes that many people depend upon him to be courageous and to be willing to make decisions, even if those decisions are difficult. In one of the more poignant moments in the movie, Adam Mitchell says bluntly, “I’m accepting the fact that I need to learn to do the hard things.”

So he seeks courage from the Lord.

So he gets the basic facts he needs to make decisions.

And so he decides.

God give us leaders who will demonstrate your courage.

God give us leaders who will take a stand.

And God please give us leaders who are willing to make courageous decisions.

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.