Staying True to Your Calling

I know what it feels like to walk into a room and feel like you don’t belong. Somewhere between the invite and the front door, the excitement melts into fear. I’m certain I have nothing to contribute to the conversation. By the time I enter the room, look for a discreet seat in the back and scan the intimidating guest list, my fear has grown into shock about how I even got in. I’m going to do everyone a favor and leave. I’ve felt it. You’ve felt it. Everyone has.

This comparison cycle that used to hit us at events now haunts us dozens of times a day as we scan our phone. If we don’t guard against it, comparison melts our calling and confidence like an ice cream cone on a summer day. Not only did we miss out on the joy, but we’re a mess.

It’s easy for ministry leaders to look around and wonder how we even got the invite to lead with all of these other “impressive leaders” who are killing it. Other leadership voices you’re listening to have the gusto of a TED Talks speaker, the organizational mind of Jim Collins and the tech acumen of a Silicon Valley star. Scanning what other churches are doing can be helpful, but it can also derail you from your calling. While you’re busy convincing yourself they’ve got what you don’t, you’re distracted from the calling the Father gave you and the people God entrusted to you.

“Don’ts” shouldn’t define our life or leadership, but they can be helpful reminders. Here are a few that can be particularly helpful right now.

Don’t gauge your influence next to others’ numbers. Metrics only tell a piece of the story. God has given you and the church you serve unique influence that can’t be measured.

Don’t compare your gifts to other leaders. I coach leaders all week long, and I can assure you no two are the same. There’s a plethora of gifts and leadership styles that are all effective. Instead of comparing your gifts, leverage them.

Don’t forget the advantages of your size and your season. Every church has a set of advantages unique to their size, makeup and life stage. Big can be helpful, so can small. Older can be helpful, so can younger.

Don’t mistake excellence for perfection. There’s a wide chasm between perfection and excellence. Here’s the challenge: Excellence is different for every leader and organization. I’ve never met a leader who wanted to give God their worst, but I rarely meet leaders who can define exactly what excellence means to them. We have to do the hard work of defining it.

Don’t get distracted from faithfulness. Think back to that moment when God called you. You’re more gifted and wiser today than you were then, but perhaps you’ve lost your why. Ask God to remind you of your calling. You were a daughter or son before he called you to serve. Keep being faithful and taking your next right step.

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Alan Briggs
Alan Briggs

Alan Briggs, an Outreach magazine contributing editor, is crazy about helping kingdom leaders uncover clarity, courage and health. He is a leadership coach, sabbatical coach, writer and podcaster. His experience as a pastor and church planting catalyst inform all of his work. Join the conversation at Stay Forth Leadership Podcast