by Emily Hill
11 years. That’s a long time.
That’s how long it was between when I received my License to Preach as a minister to when I entered pastoral ministry a year ago. I spent those years working, many for State government, I volunteered and rose in leadership. I firmly believe that I bring a lot of strengths with me to ministry, simply because of those years. I have perspective and experience that many pastors in full-time ministry can’t draw from.
However, those 11 years also bring some insecurities, as well. These are worth sharing and thinking through for any new leader, transitioning leader, or someone who just needs to be reminded of who he/she is in leadership.
I’m not enough.
First of all, are you called by Jesus to be in a ministry position? Did Jesus, at one point, direct you to do what you’re doing? If the answer is “Yes,” then stop saying this. Why? Because you’re right, you’re not enough.
If God has directed you to this position, He is so excited to move beyond what you can do into the realms of what He can do.
When I first moved to Las Vegas to join the team at my church start-up, I felt fairly confident. I’d never planted a church before, but I had a lot of experience in church itself. I figured that if I could just follow my lead pastor’s direction, I’d be good to go. Easy peasy. And then, one morning while I was at a Minister’s Breakfast with all of the ministers in our area of the state, I started freaking out. “GOD!” I screamed silently, eyes closed, face pointed at the floor. “GOD! I. CANNOT. DO. THIS. I don’t know the first thing about starting a church. I can’t lead people. I can’t make friends with people here. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not enough to do this!!!” Do you know what God said, so clearly in my heart and mind? “That’s right. It’s about time you realized this. NOW I can do some work through you.”
I can’t disagree.
Wrong. You can’t be a jerk. You can disagree.
I’m still insecure disagreeing with my pastor, I’ll admit that right now. There are times I’ve had a different opinion than he does and I’ve kept my mouth shut. I’m learning how to share those differences, though, and I think that it’s healthier for me. And maybe for him as well.
First of all, you have to have trust in those in leadership around you. If there isn’t any trust, then disagreements are more like undermining each other. I feel fortunate that I’m in a position where I trust my pastor, and feel like he trusts me.
If your goal is to help people seek Jesus, then everyone should be on board with improving what you’re doing. Sometimes that means that a healthy discussion with differing views creates a solution that no one could have come up with on their own. Sometimes it means that your opinion is the one that will make the most impact. Sometimes it means that your opinion isn’t followed. This is what’s called teamwork. In fact, just last week I was in a meeting and said, “I really, really don’t want to do XYZ. I absolutely cannot stand it, and don’t want to do it. However, if we decide to because it’s the best decision for our church and our community, I will back it 100%.”
This isn’t free reign to fight. To say “You’re wrong” in front of an entire leadership team or staff, and then stand there with arms crossed, daring people to disagree, is childish. It’s just being a jerk. But sharing different thoughts and perspectives? That’s healthy conversation.
If you’re not able to work through ways to healthily disagree with others in leadership on your team, it’s time that you step up and talk about it. Tell those with whom you work the closest that you’re having a hard time sharing differing opinions. Don’t expect them to fix it for you, but be willing to share how you’d like to work through it, to help you grow.
I have to be affirmed.
We all need affirmation sometimes. A friend recently posted a quote from the recent Creative Church Conference on Facebook, “Don’t be a part of something (organization/churches) that don’t celebrate you.” I wholeheartedly agree with this.
I know that I like to be told I’m doing something right. And thanked. And told that what I said was good and I had a strong handshake and my lipstick is the perfect color and I’m great at communicating and and and and and.
Let’s face it. That doesn’t happen often, even if we crave it when we’re transitioning into something new.
That being said, think about affirmation. If you’re anything like me, I always feel a sense of doing something right when I’m encouraging or affirming another person. Therefore, if I’m craving, perhaps I need to affirm someone else. Find a point that was particularly meaningful that the preacher made that morning. Watch the leaders on your team and see who went that extra mile, or who shows up and quietly does their job, every single week, without complaint. Encourage them, thank them, share with them that someone noticed the amazing job they did.
This makes you feel better (at least it does me when I do it!), and it also creates a culture where people are looking for the good in others. We’re so skilled at tearing people down, we need to learn to build each other up.
There are many more areas in which I feel like I’m growing as a leader and as a believer because of this time in ministry. I joke that God moved me to Las Vegas to grow ME instead of for me to grow a church. I’ve had to learn to be flexible, to make friends, to scrap things that don’t work and move forward quickly. It’s been worth it. I’m so grateful I said “Yes” to ministry so many years ago!
Emily fell in love with Jesus as an 18-year-old freshman in college. From the beginning, she has adored God’s Word and sharing about Him with others. She is an ordained minister with the Assemblies of God and her passion is to share how our stories fit into God’s greater story, using humor, Scripture, and the tales of everyday life. Emily currently resides in Las Vegas and is part of the pastoral team of a church startup in Downtown. She’s excited to have the opportunity to share Jesus and life with the people in southern Nevada. It’s a big change from her home in Washington State, but is an exciting journey watching God move!