No More Excuses

I caught COVID.

It took until July 29, 2022 for me to actually catch it, and in true youth pastor fashion, I caught it from being at summer camp.

As you’re probably very aware, the effect COVID-19 has on any given person or family ranges from medically devastating to mildly inconvenient, and I’m grateful to God that my experience swung toward the latter end of that spectrum. But even so, my need to quarantine put my wife and I in the inconvenient position of having to make a tough family decision. As we talked through what choice we would make for our family, it became apparent that there were no perfect options. So my incredible wife told me it was my call to make on behalf of our family.

And as I took the next hour or so to mull over the options, I talked with the Holy Spirit and a few trusted friends and advisors, and before long it became pretty apparent to me which option felt right to me. The problem was, I knew the option I felt was right wasn’t the one my spouse wanted, and I didn’t want to make a decision that would make her unhappy, or more pointedly, unhappy with me.

Friends, whether we’re talking about spousing, youth pastoring, or parenting, this is the tension in leadership, isn’t it? Sometimes we find ourselves in a position where we have to choose between making people we care about happy and making a decision that best cares for everyone—including ourselves. And for any of you who are wired like me, hearing feedback from mentors or even the Spirit of God Himself doesn’t make it any easier to intentionally choose to make people you love unhappy, or more pointedly, unhappy with you.

But as I cough-talked/fever-dreamed (because COVID) with Jesus about this situation, He poked at my heart-level desire to please people and be well-liked at all times, and gently encouraged me to not be afraid to lead my family. God in Christ leads us places that make us unhappy all the time, and He does it because He is confident it will ultimately benefit us in the long run (You could honestly argue I was experiencing that dynamic in that very moment, since I was deeply unhappy that the timing of my catching COVID inconvenienced my family, and yet here I am now writing to you about how, in Christ, this experience was redemptive for my heart!).

God, in Christ, is not afraid to lead us into temporal unhappiness if it means caring for us well. His love for us and firmness in His identity as Shepherd leads Him to make temporarily unpopular decisions.

This is what we’re called to as shepherds as well.

So when you feel certain, by the Spirit of God and the counsel of wise people around you (and the approval of those in authority over you of course), that youth group needs to move from Sunday nights to Wednesday nights, shoo away the whispers of the enemy and lead.

When, with the same assurances, you’re confident that a certain volunteer needs to be asked to step away for a season, shoo away the whispers of the enemy and lead.

And when, by those same assurances, a certain sacred cow event or program needs to be put out to pasture, shoo away the whispers of the enemy and lead.

You are not in this position by accident. The authority you have been given is not a mistake. Get to the heart-level reasons behind your hesitancy and then, by the transformative power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, tell the enemy to go take a hike, and lead the way God has modeled for you in Christ.

No more excuses.

Mike Haynes is a full-time youth pastor and the creator of G Shades Youth Ministry Curriculum. Feel free to reach out to Mike anytime over email at mike@gshades.org
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