An essential part of the journey of a disciple and a leader is the point at which they realize the vision God has called them to is impossible, it can’t be done. Unless we allow ourselves to go through that period of disillusionment any project we develop or community we lead will be built on optimism and charisma.
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John 12:24
Jesus’ words were pointing to his own death and resurrection, but they also reveal to us the pattern we should expect in following the vision God has given us. As the missionary Hudson Taylor is reported to have said:
“There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.”*
These moments of realisation, when we are forced to face our own lack of competence, throw us back onto God’s provision and grace. The problem is they can also be extremely painful. So how do you keep leading others when you are faced with the impossibility of what is in front of you?
We’d love to hear your thoughts about this. What helps keep you going when you are in this part of the journey? Here are three ideas of mine.
1. Remember you have been led here.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that it is good that you have got to this point, you have been led here. The moments when we are forced to let go of over-confidence and optimism are essential. Realising you’ve been led by Jesus to this point, rather than by your own ideas, hopes or ambitions, allows for hope to build that he will also lead you out of it.
2. Whinge in the right direction.
It’s a good idea to be talking about what is going on in these moments, just make sure that it is to the right people. It probably won’t do your team much good to hear your struggles with the vision that you called them to in the first place. Find someone out of the situation who is going to help you out by both encouraging you and pulling you away from self pity. Invest in a mentor/coach/huddle type relationship so that when it gets tough you have the right people to talk to.
3. Allow your vision to be renewed.
Time with Jesus is essential at these points. Invest in prayer and worship and allow your vision to be renewed and deepened by God. It may be at these points that you realise the project, community or dream is actually far bigger than you realised!
What has helped you overcome the times of discouragement in your journey as a leader? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Ben Askew lives in Harrogate UK with his wife Helen and their family. He is Pioneer Curate at Kairos Network Church, an Anglican fresh expression seeking to plant Missional Communities across the Harrogate area.
* I was reminded of this quote flicking through “52 Great Missionary Quotes” by James Fuji, a book you can get free from Noisetrade.
The wheat image is by David Monniaux and was found on Wikipedia.