There have been a few times in my life when I’ve been totally in over my head. Have you ever felt this way? Maybe you have young kids at home, or you’re newly married, or you’ve just planted a church or started at a new ministry position. Maybe you’ve done more than one of these things at once (no wonder you feel overwhelmed).
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the few times I’ve been in over my head, it’s this: it’s going to be okay.
It doesn’t seem like it will, but it will.
From a cultural standpoint, we seem conflicted on this issue.
We talk about things like “work-life-balance,” rest, and making sure you don’t over-extend yourself. We talk about boundaries. Yet at the same time, it is culturally expected that each of us be “busy”. When someone asks, “how you are doing?” what’s your response? My guess is, nine times out of ten, you say: “Busy.”
For most of us, our busy-ness is a status symbol.
As Christians, there can be a bit of a tension, too. I’ve written before about how important it is for new pastors or young pastors to pace themselves early in their ministry position (or they won’t make it). Scripture commands us to Sabbath, and I can state from experience, that practice is extremely important.
And yet, if that is the case, it brings to mind a question for those of us who have committed ourselves to full-time ministry:
How do we find ourselves “in over our heads” so often?
And what are we supposed to do when we get there?
I think these are two really good questions, and they bring us to a great place. Because the answers to these questions demonstrate that there isn’t an inherent conflict between the notion that we need pace ourselves as leaders, and that it’s okay to be in over your head.
In fact, I think God leads us to these “in-over-our-head” moments, in some ways, to teach us how to pace ourselves and to show us we’re not in control.
Two things I would say to someone who is in over their head right now.
- There’s a good chance you’re in exactly the right place. I can’t say that for certain, because I don’t know you or your circumstance (sometimes God uses overwhelming circumstances to tell us it’s time for a change). But I believe God often uses overwhelming circumstances to draw closer to him. When you’re in over your head, your tendency will be to think, “something has to change about this situation,” or “I can’t believe I’m here… this was such a mistake.” But have you ever considered that this might be exactly where God wants you? What is God saying to you in this season? Don’t worry about fixing your circumstance. Worry about looking to Him.
- It’s going to be okay. It never seems like it at the time, but it’s true. No matter what challenge you’re facing, God can get you through it. No matter what failure, what disappointment, what obstacle—God is bigger. He is able to do far more than we could ever ask or imagine. When the task is too big for us, that gives God a chance to show it isn’t too big for him. Instead of getting defeated, get ready. Expect a miracle. He’s about to do something great.
The Bible has dozens of verses about what to do when you’re in over your head (search your Bible app for the word “worry”) but one of my favorite verses goes like this:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?… But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” —Matthew 25, 26 & 33 (emphasis mine)
I just love that part about seeking first the Kingdom.
When you’re in over your head, don’t worry about fixing the problem, just worry about seeking Jesus.
Whatever it is you’re worried about—
If it’s money for your church, or money for your family; if it’s a mistake you made that hurt someone else, or a mistake someone else made that hurt you; no matter how you feel like you’re “in over your head” you don’t have to worry.
God is bigger. God is all-powerful. God is on your side.
God has got you.