If I knew then what I know now… – Tashinga Chanyau
What would I say to myself 5 years ago, at my first day on the job?
I’ve had the privilege of being the Youth Pastor at our LIFE South Campus for just over 5 years now. It’s been an amazing journey where I have gone from the extremes of “I want to do this for the rest of my life!” to sometimes, “I don’t think I can do this!”. I am so grateful that by God’s grace He has given me the strength to keep going when I thought I didn’t have it in me, because that’s where this blog entry is birthed from. The things I am going to share with you are small lessons that this amazing thing called “Hindsight” has taught me.
So, what would I say to myself 5 years ago at my first day on the job?
1. Be content in your call
It’s amazing how you can hear clearly from God about what He is asking you to do in one moment, only to find your insecurity unravelling your confidence in the call of God on your life in the next. I remember just after I started on team we had a Youth Conference running and as the new guy on staff, I wasn’t asked to do any upfront stuff on stage. I remember feeling overlooked, sitting in my mentors office complaining. (Oh how I laugh at myself now!). It’s amazing how good mentors won’t pander to our need for excessive validation and I’m so grateful for that because this was not going to be the last time I felt like complaining. Years later, after many moments of feeling overlooked and feeling like I’m not good enough, I have learnt and am still learning that if I never get to do all the “cool things” and all I ever did was love God and love people, then I would never miss out. Everything else is an added extra if we can keep our hearts content on the fact that each day serving in His house is special and significant. It’s amazing what doors begin to open without the need for our complaining or groveling out of insecurity when you are content with what God has put in front of you.
2. Invest in long lasting relationships
It won’t come as a surprise to you that relationships are important and that unless you invest into them they don’t grow. Even with this head knowledge, it took a while for me to have the heart revelation around how important relationships really are. In my early days as a Youth Pastor I saw relationships as the vehicle to get what I needed done. It became all about how I fit people into my calendar and ticking off the task list because I had goals and targets I needed met. Don’t get me wrong, I was still very genuine in my desire to do life with people, but I realized after a while that building relationships started to become draining. I began to notice that if it was my day off I was determined to spend no time with people because that had dangerously become my job. A 5 minute conversation at the start of the year with my Campus Pastor changed my philosophy on leadership completely. My eyes were open to the fact that thriving teams were ones that actually enjoyed each other’s company.
I started to look for opportunities wherever I could find them to create moments and invest into relationships. It was no longer because I wanted something in return but because I wanted to enjoy building God’s house with those He had put around me. I swapped long intense planning meetings for fun goofy hangouts with my team and started to realize that people in my team where becoming better friends because of this one shift to elevate relationship over responsibility. I love getting things done, but I love the people I get to do it with more.
3. Spend less time stressing about the losses
I hate losing with a passion. You see, I’m a big Arsenal supporter, an English Premier League Football team, and when they lost to Liverpool in the FA Cup final in 2002, it absolutely tore me to shreds. I remember I cried for almost 2 hours. The nature of ministry is that from time to time things won’t go our way and we experience losses. It might be an event that has a lower attendance than expected, a message that is a total flop, a young person you have been walking with for a long time decides to give you the cold shoulder or in my case your regular attendance of young people goes from 200 to 40 over a couple of weeks. In the moment a lot of these scenarios can be all consuming and even detrimental when they attach themselves to our self-worth. The truth is, I may fail but I am not a failure. I love Philippians 4:8 and how it teaches us to focus on what is excellent and praiseworthy. Sport has taught me that I will encounter losses but I can and need to learn from it and keep pushing forward. I have to put it behind me quickly because my default position in Christ is not “loser” but it is overcomer!
4. Trust the Process
…A phrase made popular by the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team in the NBA, encapsulates for me our need to trust God appointed leadership, and ultimately to trust and rely on the Holy Spirit. It can be so easy to get frustrated because you think you know better or because you think that those around you don’t value or understand what you can bring to the table. When we spend time with the Holy Spirit, He has the ability to speak to us about what we are called to bring to the team in every season. I am where I am because God wants me here. The story of Joseph is a big reminder for me that even when I feel hard done by, overlooked or forgotten, God’s plan is still active and at work in my life. At the end of the day He has final say over my life. Each day is a constant decision on my part to trust Him above my feelings and thoughts, I get to choose to continually align my soul with His word and how He sees me. So I encourage you, “Trust the Process” when things are going well and continue to trust even when things don’t make sense! God is for you and is no man’s debtor.
I pray that these thoughts, these lessons learnt, would not be just a quick fix to where you may find yourself but rather, that you would take a moment to reflect on what God is saying to you. It is that word, that ‘now’ word from God that will bring peace to your heart along the journey. Thank you for reading and God Bless.
South Youth Pastor