I think we’ve all heard someone say, “Let’s just Play it by ear.” Which I take to mean, let’s don’t make a decision just yet, but kinda wait to see how things are going and figure it out as we go. Sometimes this can be a good idea, but most of the time, probably  not. Playing it by ear as a default mode of leading can stem from an aversion to planning and thinking ahead. This, of course, takes time and thought and some leaders just want to move out and get things done and not take the time to think, pray and plan.

Additionally, I’ve heard it said more than once that planning, setting goals and writing down short or long-term strategic initiatives goes against trusting God…sort of handcuffs us, keeps us from moving with freedom in the Holy Spirit and is a business model which has no place in Christian work. 

I sometimes wonder if, in some cases, it may  be just downright lazy to play it by ear and not be willing to do the hard of work of thinking.

So, suffice it to say, I’m not a big fan of “play it by ear” as a philosophy of leading; but I have worked with leaders who did lots of thing at the last minute or lived from one crisis to the next because they operated from a philosophy of let’s just play it by ear.

Then there’s another way of playing, and that’s to “Play it by Fear. ” The effect is, in essence, the same as to play it by ear. It keeps us from taking adequate time hearing from God and listening well, and then being willing to do what He’s making clear. I’ve known more than my share of leaders for whom fear is what leads them to make the decisions they make. Fear is their default mode for a lot of what they decide to do or not do. 

  • Fear of failure
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of criticism
  • Fear of people’s opinion
  • Fear of loss of reputation
  • Fear of looking like a fool

Instead of falling into “Play it be ear,” how about setting aside time to  pray, plan, look ahead, write ideas down, process with your team, consider options and then thoughtfully and prayerfully make decisions instead of flying by the seat of your pants.

Instead of falling into “Play it by Fear,” how about. stepping out of your comfort zone and doing some things based on faith, not fear. 

Play it by ear is due to lack of planning

Play it be fear is due to lack of faith

I love 2 Thessalonians 1:11  in The Message.

“We pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something.”

Good ideas are a start, but they’re a dime a dozen. Things happen when we go from good ideas to acts of faith (not acts of fear) as we are enabled by His energy so that what we do truly amounts to something that honors Him.