Learning to trust God - in leadership or in life - is an ongoing adventure, says Natalie Williams. You never feel ready, but God never fails
Do you remember the first time you rode a bike without stabilisers, or swam without armbands? The adrenalin, the fear, the excitement, the wobble.
The first time I co-led a prayer meeting at my church felt similar to those childhood experiences. Midway through the meeting, I asked my pastor what we should do next. He replied: “Go with whatever you think. You’ve got this.”
It might sound dramatic, but I felt like a baby bird being kicked off a cliff edge. Would I fall or would I fly? No one would know until I was in the air, and, by then, it would be too late.
Leadership has felt like that over and over again.
I imagined it would take a year or so to get used to the responsibilities and pressures of heading up Jubliee+. The truth is, with each passing month I have become more and more aware that I don’t know what I’m doing. Another month, another experience that shows me I’m out of my depth.
I thought God would only call me into leadership if and when I was ready. Surely God would train me, develop me, mature me, grow my faith and then let me lead? But it seems that’s not how he does things.
His ways are not my ways. In God’s upside down kingdom, he raises up the lowly, calls the weak and we grow (and grow up) as we go.
“But Lord, I’m not ready!” is a common cry of God’s leaders. Even after God demonstrated the powerful signs that would accompany him, Moses still asked God to “send someone else” (Exodus 4:13). Gideon protested that he was the weakest and the least (Judges 6:15). Even Esther initially pointed out to Mordecai why she couldn’t go to the king on behalf of the Jews (Esther 4:11).
But, in many ways, not knowing what I’m doing has turned out to be a blessing. My prayer life is the most consistent it’s ever been – because it has to be. My dependence on God is shaping me into the leader he wants me to be.
Thankfully, the sense that I’m out of my depth isn’t the only thing that’s grown during these past two years. I have also become increasingly aware that I am called by God for this role. Every time I wonder if I’m really the right person to lead this work, God whispers three words to me: “Adored. Anointed. Appointed.”
I instinctively want to feel confident in my own abilities, decision-making and team leading skills. But I’m learning that growing as a leader doesn’t mean I’ll ever be certain that I know what I’m doing. In fact, it feels healthier to acknowledge that I don’t. Being mindful of my weaknesses is God’s kindness and mercy to me – it not only protects me from pride, but also pushes me to build a strong team around me.
Acknowledging that I don’t have all (or any!) of the answers forces me to depend on God and others. Recognising that I’m called to this role spurs me on to grow into it and have confidence that, even when I don’t know what I’m doing, the one who chose me to lead knows what he is doing.