by Marti Jackson
Not very long ago, I sat across from a young children’s leader who had a long list of questions for me. Most of us who work with children and students are familiar with abundance and lists, so it’s not unusual to have questions, 41 was quite a few, but I quickly learned why. He wanted to do a good job as this was his first staff position; he had already met with a strong fear of change among his team and volunteers. What was a bit different was how quickly in our conversation this first-time leader became honest. “I feel overwhelmed and I just cannot see where we are going (as a ministry) because I’ve never been there before. I’m afraid I can’t do this.” Wow. Truth.
Fear in what cannot yet be realized or seen.
What I said to him that day, and to others including myself many times over the past few years, is this:
- Even if you’ve “been there before” every change is a unique response to what God has called you to do. With volunteers, you’ll rarely repeat yourself, ever in leadership. Embrace change, don’t fear it. If you try to lead from a purely formulated way, where you just set your team on repeat mode each season, than I’d challenge you with this question. “Are you avoiding fear by doing what’s comfortable and predictable?”
- You will never be fully equipped the way you think you should be but rather how God thinks you should be. Gideon was a warrior but maybe a bit insecure in his faith. Even an angel wasn’t enough to convince him of God’s plan. I still think he had more than a bit of gumption (it’s a Southern thing) in testing God with the fleece, but he needed to make sure he was hearing him correctly. What would have just been fearfully crippling to me was the “loss” I’d have perceived from the decrease of tens of thousands of men to 300! If I was going to push back a nation, particularly a violent one at that, I would prefer the more-is-better approach. God, however, divined this moment, and we know that it was all His glory who accomplished this triumph. Time and time again this has taught me, that it is better to have all the right people to complete the task than just a large impressive number. Which leads me to . . .
- Sometimes not everyone fits well on the team. I have never met a single leader or volunteer that felt that they had enough people. Never. Ever. Please know you and your church are not unique in this. Regardless of the size of your church, there will always be children and students who need more people to connect with them. BUT, it is far more important to know WHO you need than HOW MANY you need. Sometimes you need to just say “no” to people who don’t fit well. Don’t buy into the fear that you won’t ever have someone else. Fear shouldn’t push you to embrace someone who is not committed to the vision and purpose of your church.
On the back of my office door I have Scriptures that I have read and re-read during hard or difficult seasons. This one from The Message reads, “There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love,” 1 John 4:18.
Love drowns out fear. The future will always be full of change. Love your future, don’t fear it.
Marti Jackson lives in Northern Kentucky with her sweet husband and three awesome kids. She writes and mentors young leaders and joyfully serves as the Children’s Minister at Lakeside Christian Church.