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This is unique time to be leading a church or ministry. We are in a season of navigating uncharted terrain and that means it is a time where we need to pioneer and innovate. All this whilst feeling exhausted and confused. In this post I want to share just one key to leading in times of uncertainty.
Today I offer you one simple phrase:
“Start before you’re ready”
Am I Ready For This?
Have you found yourself questioning your readiness recently? When I reflect on my time in ministry I can think of many moments where I have felt completely unprepared and not in the least ready for the opportunity in front of me. Those moments when you find yourself in situations where you know you need to step up despite the soundtrack running in your head. I personally find it easier to think of the times I’ve not felt ready than the ones where I have felt ready!
I sometimes wonder… have I ever felt ready?!
Well the good news is that when I look to bible I discover I’m not alone.
The Least of the Least
The story of Gideon comes to mind.
The Angel of the Lord appears to him and calls him “Mighty Warrior”! His response?
Gideon then goes on to verbalise what he is thinking. He is the least qualified person to lead the people of Israel to victory. He is actually the least of the least.
Definitely not leadership material by most standards.
The Angel of the Lord responds “Go in the strength you have”
Not a glowing report or a rebuttal of his weaknesses just an acknowledgement that he has at least a little strength, use that.
Take what you have and move forward. Don’t wait to feel ready or stronger.
Sent Without Snacks
When I think of people in the bible who don’t seem ready I am so thankful for the example of the disciples.
I love the section in Matthew 10 where Jesus sends out the 12. He gives them a set of instructions and then sends them to go and preach and demonstrate the Kingdom of God.
Now he does give them some instruction to be fair… but I can’t help but feel that they would still have had a lot of questions. I know I would!
“So no gold and silver right? What about snacks? Can we take snacks?”
“Will we need waterproofs?”
Either they were too busy trying to look confident to ask these questions or maybe they just aren’t recorded. Maybe Matthew saved Peter the embarrassment this time…
I imagine much of their time with Jesus the disciples felt unready.
Being ready was not a requirement for being sent apparently.
Reliance Over Readiness
Now don’t get me wrong there are exceptions to what I’m sharing here. Please be ready if you are about to run a marathon. Please be ready if you are about to operate on someone (especially me!) or sit an exam or… the list goes on.
I just think that when it comes to ministry and our walk with God, we can get too caught up on the idea of being ready, being prepared.
The need to be ready is so often a myth.
As leaders and followers of Jesus we are called to dependence on God. That is the point of the disciples short list of belongings they were to take on their journeys. This was about trust in God.
Reliance and relationship.
Similarly for Gideon. Having told Gideon to “Go in the strength you have” the Angel of the Lord states “Am I not sending you?”
The focus is on the sender not the sent. God is sending Gideon so why is feeling ready even relevant?
Perhaps we should be more nervous about feeling ready than not feeling ready?
Our supposed skill or expertise, though obviously good things in most contexts, can insulate us from a need to trust in God.
It’s amazing how much we think we can achieve on our own steam.
Perhaps being an ‘expert’ in the Kingdom of God is overrated?
We are called to lead others – but only after we have learnt to follow the one that leads us.
I often have ideas that float around in my brain for years before I ever do something with them. I don’t think that this is all just about the ‘right timing’ (which is mostly just a different excuse), but rather about my own feelings of inadequacy.
The hardest part of any new venture is the start. Like the flywheel concept that Jim Collins speaks about in his book Good to Great (highly recommend you get a copy, Amazon link here*), it takes more effort at the start, but once the new things are running they do begin to build their own momentum. Over time things become easier.
I’m not sure I often feel ready for the new thing if I’m honest. But when I reflect on the things I’ve still managed to start, overcoming that feeling of being ready has been a pathway to peace and joy and sometimes even great fruit. Expressing our creativity is life giving to us and to others.
Our creativity, our ability to start something, is intrinsic in the fact we are made in the image of creator God. Each time we create we invite others into something beautiful. Whether that is a song, a sermon, a new business, a new ministry, a new way of doing church, a new roast of coffee.
Whatever it is, it holds the potential to bless and serve others.
One thing I am confident of, is that the idea stuck in your head is not doing any of that.
What can you start this week that has been sitting waiting on your readiness?
If you are still struggling this other post on overcoming inertia to start something might help
Pioneering in Uncertainty
These times are uncertain. The post-pandemic church is wrestling with all sorts of challenges. The energy required is much like a church plant, even for established churches (I wrote about that here). What this season needs is people willing to pioneer and innovate.
We are in uncharted territory and that requires creativity.
Who will create the new ideas that take the mission of the church forward?
Well hopefully it will be leaders like you and me that are prepared to get past the feeling of being ready. Instead let’s recognise we are being sent by the one who doesn’t need our readiness, just our willingness to partner.
If I had one encouragement for us as leaders today it is this:
START BEFORE YOU’RE READY
What helps you stay creative and keep pioneering?
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