By: Jacquelynn Wolfe, Ellensburg Staff
Let’s be honest, no one truly knows how to do a new thing until they start doing it. Think about your first day of college: you had gone to school your whole life, but no one taught you how to be a college student. You just started and learned along the way. The same thing goes when discipling college students. When I first began to lead my sophomore year of college, I was fearful and afraid that I was doing everything wrong. I felt incompetent, unequipped, and uncomfortable. Over the years the Lord has used my leadership experience to shape and mold me to look more like Him. I am still learning how to be the leader that God has called me to be, but here are a few things God has taught me over the years that I wish I would have known as a new leader.
1. Your mistakes and failures in leading cannot derail the mission of God. The reality is that God is sovereign over His mission, and He has invited us to be a part of the story not write it ourselves. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:28). Your Bible is full of truth about who Jesus is and the power that He holds - read it! Ask him to write that truth on your heart, so that you too can confidently lead without all that pressure. That is good news. I wish someone would have told me that the success of the mission of God did not fall solely on my shoulders. He invites me to to join Him where he is already at work, and He is the one who changes hearts. What a breath of fresh air it would have been to hear those words as an insecure college sophomore just trying to figure it out.
2. You do not have to have it all figured out. Because I was young and everyone else seemed to have it figured out, I thought that I had to have it figured out as well. I tried the whole “fake it till you make it” thing, and it was so exhausting. I wish someone would have told me that God wasn’t after some hypothetical perfect version of myself, but He was after my obedience and willingness to be missional even when I made mistakes. I was so worried about doing the wrong thing that it hindered me from really engaging in what God was asking of me: to be a part of His mission, to pursue college students who do not know Him, and to offer them the hope that I have found in Christ. Three years later I can still get caught up in trying to be perfect. However, when I remember that it’s simply about being obedient, I can experience freedom in leading.
3. Your leadership failures don’t lead to a more distant God. I wish someone would have told me that my mistakes in leading wouldn’t lead to a more distant God. I believed that lie, and it actually pulled me away from God. I have since learned that failures while trying to do His work push me towards Him because I experience the grace of a loving Father. Our failures should make us lean into God and trust Him to fill the gaps, to change our hearts, and to give us wisdom so that we can better lead people. While our actions can grieve Him, He is not disappointed; He simply wants us to come back to him. Now that I understand this truth, I can come before God without any barriers, cry out to Him, and trust that He is listening. If you believe that God is disappointed in you, ask yourself why. Do you think that you have to work to earn His approval? Do you think that He keeps a checklist of your work? Do you believe the truth that God’s grace is sufficient for you? Find out what is holding you back.
Hold fast to the truth that the Lord is working out in you as you lead. He is stretching you to be a better leader, and if you let Him, He will use you to do great things.