The other evening with a bunch of young leaders I was asked a great question ~ what has been your biggest leadership challenge and how did you overcome it?
For a moment I struggled. Not that I have never had a challenge in my leadership, but when you reflect on a question like this it can be difficult to articulate your answer. All along my leadership journey there have been times of challenge, you just don’t always realise it. If you’re anything like me, you’ve just got on with it and with Gods help, overcome them.
My answer (prompted by my wife) was ‘2008’.
The leadership challenge in 2008 was this – I could have left church. I thought I was exactly where God wanted me to be. Then, without notice, things changed. A combination of events knocked me, which created a challenge I am convinced that all of us will go through at some point…
I am offended. What will I do in response to what has been done to me, to what has offended me?
All I can say is that there will be moments when you will be offended. Guaranteed. Someone is going to say something, do something, respond in a way that upsets you, something you have been doing will be taken from you. An ‘unexpected event’ that will ask questions of your motives, your values and quite likely, your faith.
Somehow I chose to respond in the right way.
Well, I hear you cry, that’s easy for you, you’re a Pastor. Not sure why people think that way. I’m just a normal person who gets upset about the same kind of stuff that everyone else gets upset by. Plus I wasn’t then, at least not in the role like I am in today.
This is not about me bragging. Looking back the reason I survived that challenge, and therefore my family survived, was because my heart was not going to be moved. At some point previously I had determined that come what may, my heart will not be moved.
My heart is for God. My heart is for my family. My heart is for His church. My heart is for Xcel. It is my home and I have no intention of leaving home. I don’t ever want me or my my family to be homeless.
On reflection, 2008 wasn’t really that much of challenge because I had already passed tests on other occasions. I just hadn’t realised it. Yet when I look back on my life I can see the times when my heart was tested.
1998. Some difficult work stuff as a Financial Adviser.
1999. Would I move to London for a job?
2001. A huge step of faith.
2003. Looking for some extra income which led to a ‘miracle’ job.
Then 2008. And since then, some even bigger challenges that have tested my heart.
My only advice, especially to those who lead. Choose today where your heart should be and then stay there. I have learned that there is nothing SO big that happens where God is not BIGGER, that He cannot help me overcome.
Psalm 15 puts it like this…
Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbour no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honour those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.
That is the kind of life I want to live. My prayer is that with Gods help and the Holy Spirit, I can.