Pushed into Leadership

When I was a college student, I always complained about our English Ministry. I saw class after class graduate, never to return again. My heart was filled with accusations and criticisms. “They’re too old-fashioned. They’re not Gospel-centered enough. They don’t do discipleship well."

I thought, “If I were in charge, I’d turn things around.”

Well, here I am. Starting in July, I became the full-time pastor for our church’s EM. I was fresh out of seminary, newly married, not yet 30 years old, and now in charge of shepherding this congregation. 

I wish I could say that I am brimming with confidence and ready to make meaningful impacts for the Kingdom. But I’m not. I’m terrified. I feel overwhelmed. Most days, it seems like I’m in way over my head.

As millennials, we often feel offended when we’re not given opportunities to lead because we think we deserve it or we could do it better. But what happens when you are given the opportunity? What happens when you are given the promotion or when you do land the gig? What happens when you do become a ministry leader at church or on campus? What now? 

Maybe you find yourself stepping into, or even being pushed into, a new role that God has opened to you, but you are having doubts, anxiety, and second thoughts. How can you wisely navigate this new opportunity?

Here are some considerations that I hope you find useful. Full disclosure: I’m no expert. I’m in the middle of navigating this myself. But by God’s grace, these have been useful for me, and I hope that they are useful for you too.

Give Thanks to God

It’s easy to forget God’s grace in the midst of anxious transitions. Giving thanks to God reminds us that this opportunity is a blessing, not a burden. Praise the Lord for entrusting you to do much good for His glory.

Bring Your Idols before God

Yes, there is stress that comes with the new job or position. But very often, the stress comes more from the pressure to feed our idols. Whether it’s protecting our reputations, impressing our bosses or co-workers, or not failing our parents or ourselves, we bring our idols to the task at hand. If you are not careful, those idols will eat you alive. Confess them before the Lord.

Embrace the Role

Sometimes we’re so hesitant to step into the new role that we never fully commit to it. Maybe it’s a mental safety net thing. As long we don’t mentally commit, then we’ll be free from the responsibilities. 

Nonsense! Own it and step into it fully. It does no one good if you are flip-flopping in and out. Embrace the weight of responsibility. Place it on your shoulders. Feel how hefty it is. And then move forward, one step at a time.

Seek Counsel

You’re not the first person to be in this position. Be humble and learn. Those who are wise know that they don’t know everything and they are willing to ask for help. More often than not, those who are more experienced in your field are willing to share nuggets of wisdom with you if you ask.

Give Yourself Time for Transition

You will feel pressured to hit the ground running and to get things going right away. Recognize that it’s going to take time, probably longer than you think and definitely longer than you want.

Recognize that you’re going to make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up over that. Make them. Apologize for them. Learn from them. And move on.

Even as I write this, I feel like I’m in a slump. I’m having trouble adjusting to my new responsibilities. But there’s no way of going around a slump or a transition – we can only go through them. So give yourself time.

Work Hard

You haven’t arrived – you’ve only just begun. Yes, you were likely placed here because of your past work, but past success is not a substitute for present effort. You are likely faced with expanded responsibilities and you now face the need to grow your skills.

 So work hard to hone your craft. When it’s time to work, work hard – give your best to what God has called you to do in the time that God has called you to do it (that means saying no to Instagram and Bleacher Report when it’s time to work). Work hard to honor Christ through this opportunity.

Rest Well

Rest in the finished work of Christ. Your eternal identity, value, and security are not contingent on how well you perform. Those things are secure in Christ.

Rest in God’s presence through spiritual disciplines (e.g., meditating on the Word, prayer, corporate worship, singing songs of praise, fellowship, serving, etc.). Do not neglect these important means of grace that God has given to us for our sustenance.

Rest physically, emotionally, and mentally. With the pressure of new responsibilities and surging deadlines, we may be tempted to neglect eating well and sleeping enough. We’ll power through lunch without eating to get work done, pick up some fast food on the way home, and then we’ll stay up late to get everything finished. 

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes, there’s no way around that – for me, Saturday night sermon preparation can be a real bruiser. But that should not be the regular pattern that we set for ourselves. We do damage, sometimes irreparable damage, when we refuse to rest. Physical rest does spiritual good.

God has placed us here

I’m two months in and I’m still eating my fair share of humble pie. But, God has been faithful and exceedingly gracious. Even though I feel like I’ve been pushed into this, I know that God has placed me here.

I am excited for what’s in store for you. You are where God wants you to be. May you bring God glory in this new opportunity!

Joshua Lim is a pastor at OMC: Family Chapel in Los Angeles, CA.