February 25th 2020 - 55 days, almost 56 would have passed by the time you're reading this. That's more than 1344 hours, more than 79,200 minutes, more than enough time for us to establish where we want to be heading during the first year of this new decade. As we march on towards March, where are you right now in your journey of this year? Have you made progress towards your goals? Have you barely even started? Has the 'I can do this, new year, new me' of January 1st turned into 'I can't do this, new year, same me'?
We have just come off a great few days away in Waikanae for TYC 2020, and for me personally, I found I was telling myself, “I can’t do this, new year, same me”. I walked into TYC cloudy and unsure of where I wanted to be in 2020. Prior to last year ending, I was struggling mentally at work and struggling with my faith. I was questioning who I was and who I wanted to be. I felt I was lacking as a leader and I needed direction. I was unhappy. I decided that I needed to step away from work, and re-evaluate my plan for the next year - I was ready to hand in my resignation the week before driving down to Waikanae.
When I decided I needed to do something for me, which the first step was taking a step back from work to take a step forward, I suddenly felt that ‘t’ of ‘can’t’ disappear and it was slowly becoming ‘can’. But then a transition at work was announced and suddenly, I was provided with a reason to stay back and improve my morale in the work-space, ‘God’s timing’ perhaps. So I put up a brave face and told my superiors, “I’ll stick it out and see how this goes”.
Fast forward to TYC, there was a lingering feeling just floating around me. It felt heavy, it felt suffocating and it felt draining. I completely zoned out of everything else just for TYC so I could focus on doing the best I could to provide a hand as part of the committee but also allow myself to fully enjoy my time there and hopefully make a step forward in regards to getting my faith back on track. I’m the type of person where I prefer going with the flow and adapting on the fly, heck, it’s one of the reasons why I enjoy my hobby of competitive fighting games so much, I like having to think on my feet. But with TYC this year, the team had organised a fantastic programme which allowed us time to digest our workshops and also have time to reflect on our day. For me, I like staying busy - I don't do well when I don't have something on for the day, I just can'tfocus. And for the first time in a long time, I was given the burden of being able to reflect.
Why was I feeling doubtful? Why was I questioning everything? Why did I stop believing in myself? How did I get myself to the point where I couldn't trust my own decisions? As leaders, we are often placed in situations where our character as leaders is compromised. We're put into situations where we can't show weakness, but show that we can get through the obstacles in front of us. During TYC, we had the opportunity to take part in leadership masterclasses, our spin on the popular 'masterclass' format. I found myself sitting in the class led by Filo where we learnt about three types of leaders: the self-aware, the resilient and the courageous leader.
During this workshop, I found that I shared a lot of can't with my brothers and sisters in the room, but at the same time, I found that I shared a lot of can with them too. We learnt that it was okay to show weakness, to be vulnerable. We learnt that it was okay to take risks, that it was okay to make mistakes, that it was okay to grow. We learnt that it was okay to say 'I can't' and that it's fine to not say 'I can' as often. For me, it triggered memories of the first rally my youth group hosted after our re-naming to Cornerstone.
"The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;" - Psalm 118.22 (NIV)
During this rally, I was allocated the text, Mark 5:1-20, where Jesus healed a demon possessed man. At that point of time in my life, I realized that my 'demons' was my self-doubt. The demon of can't prevented me from knowing that I was more than capable of saying I can. I realized that I was able to lead my youth as best I can, which helped me form the vision of Cornerstone, a group where we would sculpt our leaders to be 'cornerstones' of their community and church, with Christ as the cornerstone of their work. For me, I realized that all the times I said, I can do this, it was because my biggest supporter was right behind me, my cornerstone, Christ. He took the 't' of can't and said, let me hold this so you can do this. Like how that little 't' resembles the cross that He bore, He is always there to help us out when we need help the most. But at the same time, we must do our due diligence to look after ourselves mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally.
I learnt that I need to say 'no' more, that I can say 'I can't' more. As leaders, we can only lead well if we are well. Look after one another, pray for one another, change that can't to can.
Some Questions to Consider:
How well am I currently managing my well being - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually? What can I do to better manage these things?
What are some practical ways I can cast aside my doubts when looking to live a life led by the Spirit?
Who are some people known to me that may need prayer over this same topic?