Righteous Frustration

In their now classic work, The Leadership Challenge, Kouzes and Posner wrote, “More than anything else, leadership is about creating a new way of life. Leaders must accept the responsibility for making change happen.” Leadership and change are inexorably related. 

When God raises a leader for a task, He often burdens that leader with righteous frustration. There is something deeply disturbing to the leader about the current reality. He tosses and turns while attempting to sleep. His mind drifts in meetings. His heart breaks. In a real sense, the burden begins to own him, to form him.

When God nudged Nehemiah to the task of rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem, God burdened Nehemiah with a righteous frustration. When he heard the report about the broken walls and the disgrace of the people (Nehemiah 1:3), he was more than frustrated; He was righteously frustrated and driven to weeping, fasting, and prayer. 

What bothered Nehemiah did not initially bother others living in Jerusalem. They grew apathetic to the broken walls, and sadly they had learned to live with their disgrace. Because Nehemiah knew that the people did not share his righteous frustration, he painfully exposed the crisis of the broken walls. With skill and wisdom, he allowed the burden to become a vision for the future. 

If you are filled with a righteous frustration, the Lord is developing you for something significant. Live with the burden. Let it form you. Welcome the discomfort. And allow God to breathe into you the vision to repair the walls.

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Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, he served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary and has authored or co-authored several books, including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. He is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.