The problem with starting off as COO is that I knew that there wasn’t much place to go after but down.
As grateful as I am for God blessing me with a titled position like that as my first job out of college, I was equally scared that being in charge of a company was my beginning.
If there’s a modicum of certainty I have in God’s patterns, I can promise you that God only gets bigger. If being COO is considered ‘small’ – what is ahead that is actually bigger?
As life gets harder and responsibilities get bigger, I constantly wonder (not worry) the ways in which I’m preparing for the future.
I’m not just talking about my career though. I’m also asking for my future family, where I should go, which friends I should invest in, how I should spend my money, and literally every other aspect and detail of my life. Everything’s only going to get bigger and tougher.
And if being COO is the ‘small’, and that there are bigger and tougher hurdles ahead, how do I prepare the things ahead? And then the real overarching question is:
How do I make sure God’s even bigger and tougher than all the obstacles I will face?
The best way to make God bigger is to make me smaller.
Then that thought got me thinking: it is true. Our generation has an issue with humility.
Even as I typed that, I had to shelve away all urges to be like ‘we’re actually quite accomplished’ or ‘we work hard, we deserve this’. But as a twentysomething, I don’t really deserve much.
When my parents were my age, they could barely afford rent and they only ate out once a month. Meanwhile, I whine if I don’t get my daily caffeine. I know how blessed I am to be born in such a time as so many conveniences and access.
I wonder that perhaps, for our generation, our impatience is at the root of the lack of humility.
Pride is impatient because the perspective is centred around ‘me’. And I’m quite familiar with pride because it’s natural to centre my world around me.
If we don’t get our 11 likes within the first minute, our Instagram post is deemed unsuccessful. If our coffee order is not as fast as we expect it to be, we tap our feet and shake our heads in exasperation. Most of us would rather watch a video than read an article (I prefer reading, but I also read faster than a video could play).
Humility requires an abnormal kind of patience.
The kind of patience that waits for your turn. The kind of patience that needs to last years, decades or even a lifetime.
There’s a massive difference between tolerating disrespect, and waiting on your turn. I don’t believe that we ought to sit back and relax as people in power ruin families and the earth, but I do believe in honouring those who are before us, and doing what we can with the power we already have.
Sometimes that power comes with initiative and action. Sometimes that power comes with waiting and time.
I started off as COO, and now I’m back as an intern. Not just any intern – an intern/volunteer for a church.
I’m not insinuating that working for a church is the lowest of lows (in fact, it’s the opposite – the respect I have for full-time church builders is immense). I just never imagined dedicating a summer to a church. From a purely ‘secular’ point-of-view of my career trajectory, interning for a church feels like 10 steps back from being COO.
And in many ways it is. I’m used to having the final say in meetings; now I wait till someone asks me a question directly. I’ve been in control of my schedule and my time; now I’m constantly on call for whatever is needed. My priorities were about myself and what will benefit me the most; my priority is what the church and the pastors say it is.
The process of being humbled is frustrating, exhausting and humiliating. It’s probably no coincidence that humility and humiliating sound similar. There are many moments of quitting this internship so I can continue living the way I want to live.
However, if I want to prepare for the bigger things ahead, I need to step down and step back. If I want to grow my capacity for responsibility, I need to grow in character.
Stepping down is to step out of the spotlight. When I step out of the spotlight, it’s harder to spot me. The work is harder being one of the supporting background characters, or completely behind the scenes, because recognition is nice.
But in these moments of feeling unknown and unseen, I’m encouraged by the One that sees all. He sees every seed that was planted, every soil that was tilled, and every flower that bloomed. My life is not about me after all; it’s His story.
One of my favourite things said about me when I was a COO was that “Grace understands that the best leaders do more than lead— they also serve.” (Love you Danielle Diamond!)
I already served my best as a COO, and now God is asking me to step down and step out to recalibrate and expand what I know of servanthood and leadership, for what’s ahead. And I can’t wait, but I will, with full anticipation.