Stretching isn’t always the most comfortable thing.
I’ve had to spend a lot of alone time on campus. I tell people this, and they think the whole Intervarsity world and my own sanity is all falling apart. And honestly, there are days I actually feel this. But it’s simply not true.
But I do have that feeling on some days. It’s not a pleasant feeling, but I’m recognizing it’s God stretching me. This year honestly felt like a coming of age for myself. But as new responsibilities come my way and new challenges present themselves before me, I’ve realized I have to get out of my groove again and enter into this next season standing up and not shocked and unable to get up.
Perhaps it was going to a meeting with all the team leaders in the division with my current team leader, Natalia. She has been having me accompany her so I know how things work when I’ll be a team leader next year. Although it was somewhat intense, it really wasn’t the content of the meeting that I was unprepared for. What I was unprepared for was being surrounded by such mature leaders. Most of these people I had considered either as my mentor or somebody that I admired and aspired to become. And I felt like a child.
I always hear Christians pray to God to give them a more child-like heart. But honestly, a child is the last thing I want to become. A child to me represents insignificance, insecurity, helplessness and a naivety that I worked so hard to exterminate in myself. A child is not a leader. A child is not confident. I’ve been asking God to grow me up in these last couple of years, and the last thing I want to do is to feel like a child again after working so hard to become a mature individual.
But perhaps a real leader is a child. Or rather, isn’t afraid to be one. It’s in our helpless child-likeness in which God can grow something new. I’ve been thinking about hard hearts and soft hearts lately. There are students who just have such hard hearts that I deal with, that I simply have to stop pushing them to grow because it just makes their hearts harder. And then there are those with such soft hearts, ready for God to change and guide them into the people that they want to be. As I am looking at students’ hearts, I look at my heart and realize that sometimes the only way to soften my heart is to make me a child again where I feel completely powerless.
I was having a conversation with a friend about how it seems like there are seasons of growth and seasons of basking in the progress you’ve made, and then it repeats in this ridiculous cycle. She then gave me one of those responses that hit me:
I think people are always growing no matter what stage. So just lean on God in all circumstances and no matter how incompetent you feel God’s work will still get done. That’s the only important thing. people can be experts at anything, but if God isn’t in the middle of it, nothing worthwhile is actually accomplished I’m learning more and more about how insignificant we are and really how it’s just God doing everything and us just being obedient.
Us feeling less competent is just more of a reason to lean on him.
Well at first, it didn’t hit me. It actually hurt. Frank, direct, and oversimplistic. This sounded like advice I would give a student. And the mighty Daniel was not listening to his own advice. My pride didn’t want to hear this! I’m not supposed to need somebody to tell me this! I’m a staff worker! A minister of the Gospel! a… child.
Perhaps my heart is harder than I thought. And I’ve reached the threshhold for how far a hard heart can grow, and it’s time to put down my pride in my achievements, my expertise, and simply trust that God is in control (not myself) and just faithfully obey.
So of course I don’t like being a kid. But some of my favorite memories of my life are from my childhood. We often look back and regret not being able to experience our childhood again… but perhaps Jesus gives us that opportunity- to be born again and to learn things all over again. While the process of becoming a child again can be painful and bring us back into my insecurities and immaturity again, I have to remember that it is children that experience the most joy, and that this is not a cyclic curse, but a blessing to feel the joy of newness again.