Matthew 28:16, 17 (NIV): Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. These eleven men spent three years, 24/7, with Jesus. They saw him feed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish. They were there when he gave sight to blind men, cleansed lepers and set demon possessed people free. All eleven stood at Lazarus’ tomb as the stone was rolled back and a dead man walked out. A few days before they saw Jesus’ body hanging lifeless on a Roman cross, but before the weekend was over Jesus walked out of a sealed tomb and joined them for lunch. And in spite of all the disciples had experienced some of them doubted. How is such doubting possible?
The Surprising Truth About Doubting
Doubting is baked deep in the heart of all of us.
It is possible because doubt is baked deep in the heart of all of us. Adam and Eve hung out with God in the garden, but they doubted his warning about the tree. Moses met God face to face, but doubted God’s instructions on getting water. John the Baptist was Jesus’ cousin, but he doubted Jesus was the Messiah. Doubt is a part of the human condition.
It is reassuring to know that doubt is something we all struggle with. Sometimes I find myself preaching on faith and struggling with doubt at the same time. I feel like the man who said to Jesus, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” I used to hope having enough faith obliterated doubt. Now I understand that faith and doubt are not mutually exclusive. I can be honest about my doubt without destroying others’ faith. I can stand on the mountain worshipping while I struggle with doubt.
2. Evidence doesn’t always overcome doubting.
I have also come to understand that evidence doesn’t always overcome doubt. The men standing on the mountain with Jesus had more evidence of his divinity than anyone who’s ever lived, and yet they doubted. That is why arguing with 21st century skeptics is often fruitless. Atheists like Richard Dawkins Christopher Hitchens challenge us to prove there is a God, and laugh when we join the debate. Faith isn’t something based on irrefutable evidence; faith is confidence in what we hope for, evidence of things we cannot see or prove. I love to study apologetics, but skeptics are seldom converted through argument, they are more likely to be overwhelmed by love.
3. There is a leadership element to doubt.
There is a leadership element to doubt as well. It is a challenge to be a confident leader when the people you lead doubt your ability, your vision, or your heart. So we read countless leadership books and blogs that convince us the reason people doubt us is we suck as leaders. While that may be true, it is more likely people doubt our leadership because people doubt leaders. If the disciples of Jesus, the Son of the Almighty God of the universe, doubted his leadership there’s a pretty good chance the people we lead will doubt us as well. If we want to lead a team without doubt we should probably buy a dogsled.
The amazing thing about this story is that these eleven men, doubters and all, left that Galilean mountain and started the most transformational movement the world has ever seen. God seems to always do incredible things through people who doubt. Abraham, Moses, David, Peter and Saul all doubted God and doubted themselves, and God used them anyway. I doubt you and I are up to something great, but what if we gave it a try anyway? To quote the famous doubter Jonathan, “Perhaps God will act on our behalf.”
This article on leadership and doubting originally appeared here, and is used by permission.