Learning to Lead

God told me this year would be different. I could feel it in my bones in January. He was clear: leadership would change and I’d need my gaze up to change with Him.

Even still, I couldn’t imagine what He’d do in this arena over the next 342 days.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

The way He moved so faithfully and kindly would ingrain these words from Paul into my heart for all time. I couldn’t imagine how God intended to move, but I knew it’d start with my own understanding of leading.

February brought the first instance of hearing a sermon that’s message was: 
Start where you are. 
Use what you have.
Do what you can.
Trust Jesus as the multiplier. 

This was the first of three times this message would be preached over me this year. In the ebb and flow of this ministry year, God knew I’d need to be reminded over and over it’s not my striving but my surrender He needs most. 

You see, the call to women’s ministry is one I still didn’t quite get. Why would God call up a woman who struggles with female friendships to lead the women of her church family? As such, I’ve been hesitant to claim myself as the women’s ministry leader. For several seasons I got away with the excuse I didn’t want to step on toes of teammates. We’d finally found our rhythm after a season of stumbling as a team. Surely God wouldn’t want me to throw a wrench in this gift of new rhythm. Right?

I’m thinking wrong. 

By October God stripped me of my team. Every last one of them. Might I add: they stepped aside for all the right reasons, too. He gave me no option in the matter. There I was. The last woman standing. And so it was: I was - am - the women’s ministry leader.

It took 9 months of God preparing my heart for month 10. The month He’d force me to claim what He’d called me to all along: leadership of women. I had dragged my feet and my half-hearted obedience long enough. It was time to wholeheartedly embrace the opportunity He’s given me to lead.

My teammates worried I felt abandoned, but oddly enough I felt more seen by God than ever before. 

My mentor and my pastors spoke affirmation over this leadership leaving only one thing to do:

Start where I was.
Use what I had.
Do what I could.
Trust Jesus as the multiplier. 

And so, I did. 

What I could not have done in my own striving, He did in the midst of my surrender. He multiplied the laborers among our women. Several women to lead a November gathering. Another to lead December. And even more: a woman who’s ready to be all in with me among a leadership team. 

New fruit began to ripen despite the painful pruning. 

Then, December 9, God would strip me of the comfort of my pastor. The teacher who brought our family back into the local church. The pastor who baptized me a couple years later when we became members of the church. The leader who allowed a platform for me to lead among our women and encouraged me in this path. The pastor who always, always points me back to the feet of Jesus and the foundation of God’s Word.

In the midst of God’s faithfulness among leading women, it hadn’t crossed my mind that He’d prune back the good fruit of our pastor. And to be quite frank, I thought maybe it was time for me to throw in the towel following this change.

I began to doubt Him even though His hand of faithfulness was evident in the midst of changes. It took other saints on assignment - mentors, friends, church staff and our family pastor - to be reminded: the mission is too important to quit.

So, I’m staying in my lane. I’m pressing in for the sake of the Gospel. I’m leaning into the women of my church family and asking Him for the greater measure. I’m remembering the calling isn’t mine to quit anyway.

This year, He’s refined the pride of my heart that kept me from understanding why He’d choose me for women’s leadership. January Erin had no clue. By the grace of God, December Erin knows the answer. It’s been learned through hard-fought running in my lane with great humility.

Now I know. He chooses me because it’s not about my ability to feel successful in relationships with women, but rather my commitment to point women to their relationship with Him. It’s not about me at all and for that I’m so thankful.

With 23 days left in the year, I can hardly see the next step in front of me, but I can see His light and love all around in abundance.

Leadership has changed just as He said it would. As much as I push back against change, I’ve learned when things change, He and I change too. Changing as I yield to Him, growing in Him, that’s all I ever want in this life.

If everything’s about to change then you better trust the One who’s changing it. Annie F. Downs

So I join with Paul in proclaiming: Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations. Forever and ever. Amen.