Being a leader isn’t what I expected.

There, I said it.

I showed you the oft overwhelmed human behind the wizard’s curtain.

After 10+ years in online ministry I can tell you being out front is not nearly as glamorous or shiny as most of the gurus make it out to be. 

There’s a lot more messing up, doing things over, and wondering if I’m setting my team up for a massive crash and burn. This overnight success thing takes years of work.

Over a decade ago God gave me a vision of what Christian leadership was going to look like for me.

It was only a brief snapshot, but it was beautiful and exciting! I was backstage with a few loved ones getting ready to speak to an auditorium full of people. We were all dressed nicely and very excited to be wherever we were at! 

I woke up excited and ready to make it happen.

Fast forward to today. The path to that big stage hasn’t been as straight or as easy as I thought it would be. My ministry grew, then it got smaller, then it grew again. In this season I serve hundreds of people who are struggling to deconstruct their faith from toxic religion. It’s rewarding work and I know I’m making a difference, but there’s still a lot of work to do. If I’m being completely honest, I thought that vision God gave me would happen quicker, with fewer wandering paths, and less sleepless nights. 

I mean really, if God was calling me to it He would make sure we got there, right?

But that’s not what it means to be a Christian leader.

When I said yes to standing in front of this group of people I love so dearly, I said yes to more.

More uncertainty.

More workload.

More critics.

More hate from online trolls.

More spiritual warfare.

More straining my neck to see what’s around the next corner.

More wondering if God made a mistake to call me to this thing we are building.

I wasn’t fully prepared for the more required by Christian leadership, but that’s what the call delivered.

10+ years into this ever evolving call to ministry, I’m learning that God also expected more from me than I expected from myself. Perhaps more importantly, They were prepared to offer more of Themselves, than I expected.

More peace when I was overwhelmed.

More like-minded people who inspire me to keep going.

More prayer warriors to protect my team and family.

More grace when I doubted everything.

More miracles when all I expected was bolts of judgmental lightning.

Christian leadership is as transformational to us, as it is to those we are called to lead.

There’s no cutting corners or cheating when we are doing things God’s way. We can’t steamroll people at any cost. So getting messy, making mistakes, and needing the support of others is par for the course. We have to work on ourselves as much as we work on other people. Releasing ourselves from old expectations, habits, and false-beliefs is exponentially more difficult than getting others to believe in us. It takes time. Lots and lots of time.

Perhaps you’re in a similar season. God has given you a vision that’s polished and shiny, but you’re looking around feeling like a jumbled mess.

You feel discontent with the present and are ready to be in the future that God has promised. You’re longing to be in the presence of people whose lives are being changed.

To you I say keep going. The mess that surrounds you is like evidence of your leadership and it’s a good thing. Old ways are being torn down. New ways are being built. You’re worn out because you are blazing new trails with people who never even knew those trails existed.

Messy, tired, and changed by this journey are your goals for this season.

Instead of giving in to the critics who say you can’t, shouldn’t, or aren’t called to do this….Get honest with yourself about how heavy this load is and make it a priority to rest, sit with God, lean on others.

Let the vision of the future encourage you instead of making you feel like you’re not doing enough. This season is hard, acknowledging the struggle isn’t sinful. God knows this is hard and still chose to call you to it because the work is worth the investment. God’s taking you through this season of heavy lifting, because you’re worth the investment.

Saying “YES” to Christian leadership isn’t just about developing your own relationship with God.

You can do that privately and never lead anyone. Leadership requires us to stand in front of our community and reveal to people what they cannot yet see on their own. 

Even when we feel imperfect.

Even when the message feels unfinished.

Even when the path forward looks more like a bramble patch than the yellow brick road.

Your messy calling, watered by your sweat and tears, will grow into the beautiful vision God has shown you. Give yourself permission to be here, in the messy middle, and to be transformed by the experience.

You may pick up a few scars along the way, but what great Christian leader, prophet, or warrior hasn’t?