The Messy Leader, Live Free Thursday

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and-2

I went to a conference to listen to one of my closest friends speak. The entire theme was on anxiety. How to deal with it. How to overcome it. How to fight it. I have a hard time sitting still for over two hours and of course my friend was last speaker for the evening. I literally had anxiety about worrying about her having anxiety…because she was LAST.

But, when Holley Gerth stepped onto the platform and began to speak, she set an entire room filled with women free. With all of the really great teaching from a counseling perspective, and the medical perspective covered, my friend unleashed the power of a woman who cares a little too much about everything. Holley spoke about her friend’s son and his anxiety and how they began to ask him different questions about his day. They told him that his struggle was also his gift, his special superpower. With the help of his mother he saw ways to turn his sensitivity into the gift of seeing what others are too busy to notice, like the crying kid on the playground. His “superpower” motivated him to reach out to other kids.

What I am learning about anxiety is this, I was meant to feel something but not be debilitated by it. I knew decades ago that having an upfront ministry would only increase in pressure, but I refused to let fear become my quick “no.”

In this world we will have trouble. We will have those things that cause us anxiety, but we also have some pretty incredible gifts attached that uncomfortable feeling that we get from time to time. We have a sensitivity that causes us to respond to others differently.

Throughout the New Testament, we see God as the compassionate one through his son Jesus. When Jesus saw the hungry people, sick people, blind men, and even the wayward son in Luke 15:20, Jesus was moved with compassion. The Greek word for compassion is splanchnisomai which has a few translations according to certain verses. It can mean, “To be loved by.” “To be tenderhearted towards.” Yet, in one particular scripture the word splanchnisomai meant that Jesus was literally moved internally, specifically in his gut. He felt the ache and his great compassion lead to action: healing, feeding, and welcoming home the wayward. Jesus felt something within.

We were fashioned in his likeness and created to feel things deeply. Not so that we could just have all the feels…but, to be moved to respond.

Would I be who I am today without the battle I’ve had with anxiety? Probably not. Would I know the power of taking my thoughts captive? Nope.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor 10:5)

I have this thing inside of me, this adventurous side. I want to do crazy, messy ministry that stretches me beyond myself. Sometimes how I know that I am in the center of God’s will for my life is by how afraid I am.

If it doesn’t scare you a little bit or stretch you, it might not be God. 

Our dreams might be limited by what we feel we can do and what we can measure or see in the natural. But when I stand on the promises of God believing that they are for me, I am seeking the supernatural. If where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty, I have to be brave enough to walk in that freedom, not stifle it. (2 Cor 3:17)

Years ago I was really struggling with circumstantial anxiety, we were going through staff changes at our church that were soul crushing. My husband asked me to lead worship every Sunday during that season. This was when our church was hurting and I had to be the one to usher people into the presence of God when just two hours beforehand I was throwing up in the bathroom. Not pretty and definitely not powerful. I was the epitome of the messy leader, but I lead anyway. One Sunday I had this moment with God where I said, “God, if you have called me to do this, then I need to help me overcome this. I cannot continue to do ministry like this.” On my face before God, I decided that I had to change the way that I prayed and learn how to harness that nervousness. This prayer has completely changed the way I approach ministry and life.

Lord,

Take my anxiety and turn it into your anointing.

And, he does every single time.

My prayers were that others will see God and not me. That I would simply be a willing vessel with shaky hands.

One short prayer shifts my perspective to the God who formed me and told his people repeatedly, “fear not.”

All we need to know is this, God is with us and for us. If we are brave we will walk through every scary door and never let fear be the reason why we shrink back.

My heart is heavy for the state our world is in and I believe now more ever God is calling out to his girls to step into shoes that feel way too big for us. When I operate in my own strength I fall short. But, when I call on God asking for a little help from the Holy Spirit; the floodgates of heaven seem to open for his glory, not mine.

I have repelled off cliffs, parasailed, and have being caving in places that completely creeped me out. But, I had people with me who knew what they were doing, and in that dark cave all I needed was a little bit of light…and for the bats to stay very far away. Repelling down that cliff I had someone coaching me down that rocky mountain. 

Continually surrounding myself with people who know what they are doing, and having a teachable spirit, has become my very strong rope. Christ is my anchor, my sturdy cliff, and my hope. So, I jump and I go for it.

I am all about adventure. Sign me up. I’m totally in.

But, I am also fine if a little bit of anxiety drives me to my knees and leads me to scary obedience…because I know his peace will calm the quiet storm inside of me.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom.” (2 Cor 3:17)

Linking up with my sweet friend,Suzie Eller, for #livefreeThursday