When Michael Hansen accepted the position as co-leader of the junior high group at Family Retreat this last summer, he discovered new aspects of God’s faithfulness. Many Christians, including myself, shy away from leadership roles for many reasons—I can’t handle so much responsibility; I’m afraid of messing up; I don’t know how; I prefer working one-on-one.
But listening to Michael share how God used him over the summer, I questioned my own excuses, and I wondered how many people like me are holding themselves back because of doubt.
Excuse 3: I don’t know how to lead.
All the preparation in the world can never fully prepare you for the moment when you step up and take the lead. All sorts of worst-case scenarios run through our minds—what if no one participates? What if they don’t like what I’m doing? What if I run out of ideas? Michael shared a moment when he could have given in to these doubts, but discovered God’s faithfulness instead.
“One favorite experience from family retreat that stands out to me is our group talent show skit. I was worried that no one would want to participate as a group for fear of being boring or silly. But right from the start, the whole group jumped right in and joined me in a fun, silly camp song. We tried different versions with different accents and volume and speed. When we performed the skit for the talent show, our group was excited to get on stage and the audience showed their love for our performance with thunderous applause.”
Excuse 4: I prefer working one-on-one.
Over the years, Michael has enjoyed several friendships with young men affected by disability that he has mentored like his church buddy Colby, his camper Philip, and others.
“In the junior high group setting, I feel like I’m still overcoming a general lack of education and training among the youth and leadership regarding how to include an individual with a disability. Lots of time is required to get to know each individual, his interests, likes and dislikes, and how to function and process information with various disabilities. Like any friendship, it takes work to grow the relationship. It’s not always easy; sometimes there are obstacles to overcome. So, part of my work is focused on helping others learn how to love, serve, and accommodate my friend. I have seen God work in Colby’s life, the love and acceptance toward Colby by other youth in the group, and even the leadership having more understanding of disability. More work needs to be done in these areas, but progress takes time.”
If you’ve been approached to consider a leadership role, I encourage you to not let self-doubts paralyze you. Instead view it as an opportunity to lean on the Lord and trust in His faithfulness. As Michael stepped into his first leadership role, he encountered a team that supported his every step. And God certainly proved Himself faithful, providing a group of campers eager to participate. Drawing on his experience and friendships, Michael helped others develop similar friendships that stand the test of time.
As you consider the leadership roles God may be calling you to, I encourage you to reflect on J. Oswald Sanders’s appeal in his book Spiritual Leadership.
“Spiritual leadership is not a calling we choose to pursue, it is a calling we choose to answer. We don’t decide to become leaders; we decide to respond and keep responding to God’s call in our lives. Along the way, whether we like it or not, that involves us in leadership. Through all the highs and lows of leadership, in times of great certainty and crippling uncertainty, those who have led in rebuilding broken-down walls and bringing God’s message of light and life into dark places have been those whose souls have never ceased to say ‘Yes’ to Jesus’ invitation, ‘Follow me.’ What answer to Jesus’ invitation echoes in your heart and life today?”
Danielle Ledoux is a former intern with Joni and Friends’ Cause 4 Life program who enjoys writing about God’s work in people’s lives. She is a graduate of Pensacola Christian College and is currently getting her Master of Fine Arts in Dramatics.