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As I sit here in my office this morning, I see there are many areas in my current existence that generate more questions than answers. Questions concerning the daily leadership issues that always plague the running of a complex organization; questions that arise from seeing our youngest daughter suffer another significant setback in her recovery from a March car accident, and those really tough questions about the Australian rules football team that I pull for—the Brisbane Lions… such as, “Will they win more than two paltry games this season?”

Looking at those questions square on, I have to admit to myself that many of them are cloaked in doubt. Therefore, there is one obvious question that forms an overarching umbrella under which all the other questions fall: “What do I do with all of my doubts?”.

To be clear, doubt is not a sin, however, what we choose to partner our doubt with can lead us down that track.

We all have that one big question don’t we? The doubt question. Oh sure, your doubts may be cloaked differently to mine. Perhaps yours sound like, “I’m not sure God will come through this week, when I don’t have enough money to pay my staff”, or maybe it’s more like, “I don’t feel like God sees me as I wrestle with making this business defining deal. How can I possibly push forward today?”, or what about, “I’m not sure God will continue to show favor to me after I bullied my board into making that decision”.

If I have learnt one thing from being in the deep wooded territory of people’s inner lives for the past 20 years, it is this:

What you allow your doubts to partner with will define your destiny.

That’s right. The problem with realizing the true reality of our promised destiny is not on God’s end—it’s on yours, mine, and on the end every other person who lives long enough to say, “Australian rules football (AFL) is the best sport known to man” (And NO, it’s not the same as rugby!).

John 20:24-31 is the famous story of doubting Thomas, or to be more accurate, Thomas who at least went public with his doubts… after all, as we have already established, we all doubt. Of particular note, is this part of verse 24, “(Thomas)… was not with the others when Jesus came”.

Why not? Why wasn’t he there? Where was he? Was he out playing AFL football (that would make sense!)?

Isolation and doubt aren’t a good mix. Thomas isolated himself from the people he had spent the previous three years with, at a time he needed them most. When we partner our doubts with isolation we develop a pseudo-reality that redefines truth, creates a belief in a false identity, and builds theology biased by hurt and wounds. In Thomas’ case, his pseudo-reality defined his identity as a doubter, and it determined that his traveling companions, who for the past 1000+ days were reliable and trustworthy friends, were no longer credible witnesses regarding Jesus.

Thomas’ destiny was temporarily derailed because of that one powerful choice concerning his doubts. Found nine chapters earlier, John 11 reveals Thomas’ true identity: A son with a warrior spirit. “Let’s go too—and die with Jesus”, were the words that fell from his lips at the news of Jesus’ pending return to Bethany where He had been previously threatened with stoning.

Thomas had a chance to make amends. This time by partnering his doubts with a promise. His declaration, “My Lord and my God”, was the hinge moment in his history where that partnership took place. He now partnered his doubts with the promise of eternal community with the triune God. Thankfully, we learn from Church history that Thomas did reclaim his true identity—a son with a warrior spirit. He is credited as being the first evangelist to what is now known as India, eventually dying for his faith near Chennai in 72A.D.

What you allow your doubts to partner with will define your destiny.

You are a powerful leader with the power to make powerful decisions. And what you choose to partner your doubts with is one of the more powerful decisions you will make. In this hinge moment of your history, as you look square on at the doubts that your leadership context produces, what are you going to partner them with? As I stare at my doubts, today I commit once more to partner mine with the promise of intimacy with the triune God. When my doubts partner with that promise, all my other questions propel me forward toward my destiny.

Will you join me by doing the same?

Go Lions!

MA

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Mark Appleyard has well over 20 years of spiritual leadership experience across the world. His experience has included two church plants, turning a small church around to be a community impacting church as well as serving for several years on the Senior Executive of a large multi-staff church in America.

Mark and his wife Julie are the founders of Anothen—A Christian Senior Executive Consulting Network that is operating throughout the United States and many other countries around the world. They have vast experience working as CSO’s with business executives and leaders across the globe.

Mark and Julie have been in business for over 15 years, and are currently Lead Pastors, authors, international speakers and executive level spiritual growth mentors, and reside in the United States with their three adult children.