Fall semester of my junior year in college would start in just a few days. I sat with the other leaders of a campus ministry as we discussed what the year ahead could look like.
What was I doing there? I hadn’t shared with them all of my baggage from France and the previous summer. But here we were talking about seeing more of Jesus and his love on our campus.
If I weren’t so stubborn, always wanting to fulfill my responsibilities, I may have backed out of that leadership position altogether.
What place was there for somebody like me — full of doubts about Jesus’ love for me, confused about how to connect with God (and peers) — to lead others in worshiping our Creator?
I don’t like to give up, and maybe there was space for me to support from the background while I figured out my life somewhat. But with only four of us on the team . . . being in the background wasn’t really an option.
As the semester got going, I began catching up with my friends.
How have we grown separately? What are we all doing this year?
While so much was good, I noticed some people growing closer to each other. It seemed easier for them to connect with one another than me.
My life grew too busy. My 20 credit hours of classes, leadership, band-land, pornography, and friendships took all my energy. Underneath the chaos and smiles, I struggled to find the purpose for it all.
I’ve always been a people-pleaser. Which of my efforts were actually mine, and which were to make others happy? Did I want to be in leadership, or did that role need to be filled?
I felt inadequate. To lead. To be an example. To show my non-Christian roommates Jesus and love. To be a good friend.
Amid my doubts that semester, one of the other leaders of the campus ministry challenged me to “ask God for growth in trust rather than clarity.”
I thought about his words as I went into Christmas break. Long breaks during college were usually strange for me as I switched communities and lifestyles for a few weeks.
I went to a conference back home that challenged my status quo, encouraged me to live more for Jesus, and gave me hope for relationships back on campus.
That semester started with more hope. And quickly turned into more of the same — great days and conversations mixed with questioning everything.
Campus ministry with my self-proclaimed “awkward family” guided me along, and discussions started about possible spring break plans. Our general consensus was wanting to be involved but not being able to take off the week from work to go anywhere.
So, we decided to go . . . to our college town.
This was crazy for many reasons. I would be “leading” a trip when I was questioning . . . lots of things. I had never led a trip before. Who stays in their college town for spring break? How would the logistics fall into place?
However, it happened. And it was wonderful.
Friends joined for the days or hours as they were able. We connected with amazing people and nonprofits in our own city. We took time to get to know each other better through service, Bible study, meals, and movies.
That spring break was a beautiful reminder to be with people — to relax and enjoy life together.
Despite the goodness of spring break with Jesus and friends, I again found myself lost in thoughts for weeks after . . .
How do you attempt to make “big” decisions when you aren’t leaving time to ask the most important person what HIS opinion is??
the conclusion I’ve come to is
And that just leads to a life that’s full.
of being tired.
And a life that’s “full” of those things isn’t that full at all.
Which begs the question, why would you continue that life?
You’ve dealt with it for so long it’s almost the norm.
You’re too far in to see a quick way out.
You’re scared of what the new way would look like.
You’re worried that you’ll let people down with your decisions.
You don’t believe in yourself no matter how many people say they believe in you.
That’s probably why.
Feeling unprepared for the stage of life I led, I felt everything as unstable. Growing in my own faith while trying to lead my peers. Trying to balance classes and clubs and friends. Generally feeling unfocused.
The rest of that spring semester’s choices weighed heavily on me. Was I actually in the right major? Some of my major courses didn’t jive with me. But what other career path would I take, now three years into college? And how was I investing time with clubs and friends? Were those priorities skewed?
Getting lost in my head possibly clouded my view from the goodness around me.
Without realizing it, that junior year prepared me for what the following summer would have in store for me as I continued to seek God rather than my own understanding.
When have you felt ill-equipped as a believer, a man, or a friend? How have you experienced leadership and insecurity?
Who are those in the picture, Kevin? Thomas and you? Two guys in a sincere hug, looking together at the vastness of life … a perfect icon of true male friendship … amazing…
Yup, that’s Kevin and me. 🙂
Nice picture…where was it taken?
Ugh, leadership. You hit a sore spot for me. Have never felt qualified … pre-YOB and especially mid-YOB. Time and again through Scripture, though, God uses the least qualified to lead literal millions. It’s such a cliche. But it’s so true. If you feel unworthy … that’s generally a good sign that you’re ready. Or that God’s ready. Hopefully we learn to lean on him as we lead others.
I’m grateful for your role in this community, Kevin, and for your presence in my life.
You do a very fine job Tom…a hundred million times better than I could ever dream of. I haven’t been able to say much lately…my mom had the beginnings of a heart attack at home and had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, where she stayed for a few days. It was a scary time waiting for the ambulance to come. I gave her an aspirin while waiting which they said saved her life.
She came home and then had another episode and had to be taken back to the hospital via ambulance. She’s home again. Needless to say, it’s been a hard time as she’s about all I have. I’m thankful to have the opportunity take care of her, but I am bone tired. I know people have prayed for her, which means a lot. So…if I seem absent, it’s that I don’t have much to give at the moment…hope you will understand.
About 2 years ago, I stepped down as Worship Minister, (a position I held for about 15 years) because I didn’t think God could use anyone like myself. Why would God want a person like me leading worship of all things? I beat myself down so much that I lost all joy in music. So much so that I stopped teaching music and playing piano for my own enjoyment at home. Lately however, that joy is slowly coming back. In my prayer time I have asked God that if He really wants me back in leadership then please give me a clear sign. Well this last Sunday, our pastor came to me and said that our church committee would love to have me come back as a co-worship leader. It’s been almost 2 years since I sat behind a piano. My pastor knows the reasons why I stepped down but they actually want me back! I feel this is God’s answer to my prayers. It just feels right. God can use anyone He chooses to lead His people. I am so thankful that even with all my faults, God has decided to use me in this capacity. I can’t tell you how happy this has made my heart. Thank you for this article.
Ivey – So sorry to hear that those negative thoughts took you so far from something you enjoyed. But SO excited that music/leadership is being redeemed!! I hope that you are able to share in worship and leading others to worship through your music for Our Redeemer!
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