One piece of advice I’ve heard from almost every leader I’ve come across is this: never stop learning. It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have or how many letters come after your name – there is always more to learn.
I’m at the start of my ministry. And I’m in this for the long haul. So I want to learn. I’ve had the privilege of growing up under the leadership of some great men and women. Everyone learns from mistakes and experiences, but there is little point repeating mistakes of those who have gone before if we can avoid it by conversation! So I’ve started to meet up with as many of these leaders as are willing to simply to learn whatever they can teach me.
The first man I met with was my old youth leader and a huge influence in my teenage years – Steve Delves.
Steve was the first person to release me into positions of leadership and got me to preach. I’ve met few people as comfortable in who they are and as able to draw others out into the people they’re made to be. Yet the main things we spoke about were rest and confidence.
Steve took me back to the beginning, back to Genesis. On the 6th day God created man and woman – right at the pinnacle of the creation, the final act. On the 7th day he rested. So what was humanity’s first day? It was rest.
Often we think we have to work before we can rest, that we have to get everything done and dusted before we can even think about stopping. Yet the first day of man was to rest. We work from rest, not rest from work.
Steve found this insight in Mike Breen’s book Lifeshapes, but it’s something that has influenced him greatly. Rest is the source of our work, not the reward for it. Right at the heart of this blog is the understanding that we are called to be faithful, not effective. This faithfulness is itself the most powerful course, because as we walk hand in hand with God, he moves through us. It is His strength that achieves His purposes through us. We rest in Him and allow Him to work. In a sense, our biggest job is to give up control, which takes incredible trust, which takes a deep awareness of the love of God.
No wonder Steve went on to say we have to be really careful to make sure our plumb line in deciding how well we are doing is what God is saying, rather than what people are asking. Yes, we care and love those around us, but we are called first to respond to God’s lead rather than the demands and felt needs of those around us. Father God cares even more than we do for every person in our minds, He will not neglect or leave anyone stranded. Responding to God is in itself the best way to respond to the people around us.
We’re called to be faithful and faithfulness comes from rest.
If you could give any advice to your younger self when you began leadership, what would it be?
You know more than you think you do.
Steve explained that most of the angst and stress he felt during leadership came from insecurity in himself or God. Confidence in what he was thinking, decisions he made, ways that he led would have settled him far more. It’s not that he would have done anything different, but he would have enjoyed it far more – been more at peace – worked from rest.
We are always learning, we are never the finished article, there may well be better ways that we could do the things that we do, but we’re not called to be the best. We are called to be faithful. To fix our eyes on God, give up control, and allow Him to do whatever He wants to do through us. When we focus on walking in that relationship with Him, on being the people God has made us to be, we can have far more confidence in who we are because our confidence is in the One who made us. Don’t second guess as if it all depends on you. Keep right with God and trust as if it all depends on Him. Here we find peace. Here we find rest. Here we see God move.