Next month marks my one year anniversary of working in paid ministry. It's been a year full of joy, surprises, and challenges of all kinds. Here are five things I've learned in my rookie year:
1. If it was easy, it wouldn't be leadership.
I wasn't expecting every decision that I made to be so difficult. Despite my years as a volunteer in ministry, I was shocked by the number of variables that affected my every move. I assumed my analytical skills would help me make good choices for a program or person. Yet I was surprised to find that when I weighed the pros and cons of a decision, they often came out even. A year in, I now realize how many decisions require discernment, courage, and a desperate need for God's guidance to move forward.
2. When you make hard decisions, expect insecurity.
I'm thankful to God that he was clearly at work in positioning me for this job, because without that, I'd probably doubt it even more than I did in year one! Every time a gray decision presented itself, insecurity also reared its ugly head. Why did you take this job? You aren't qualified! This isn't a fit! You aren't made for this role! Learning to isolate and ignore the negative internal dialogue was a necessary part of growth as a leader. As I began to recognize that these voices of insecurity inevitably followed a difficult decision, I was less prone to listen to them.
3. Trust your instincts, but moderate your actions.
There have been times where I have a strong gut feeling about a person in leadership, a decision that's been made, or a direction that the ministry is heading. I'm learning to trust that this instinct is usually right. However, the real place of growth for me has been to learn not to always act immediately on that instinct. When a leader is ill-fitted for a role, when a program needs to change, when tweaks need to be made to a certain course of action, I've needed to trust the instinct that raises a warning in my spirit. But I must remain humble and willing to discern the right time and right conditions for confrontation and change.
4. The methods may change, but people stay the same.
One of my favorite things about my first year of ministry is getting to look at programs and plans with fresh eyes. I love bringing new ideas to the table and innovation to outreach, growth and marketing for our church. But it can be easy to overlook wisdom in the hunt for the next and best. Proverbs 4:5 says, "Get wisdom; develop good judgment." Anything I suggest must be balanced with a desire to learn wisdom and to cultivate good judgment. This has meant learning to listen well to my senior leaders and paying close attention to what they teach me about people's hearts, philosophies of ministry, and ways to help people grow in their relationship with God. I bring honor to them and to God when I respect their authority but also offer my perspective on fresh methods for ancient truth.