“It’s amazing what can happen if no one cares who gets the credit”

This is a quote I have heard from Phil Strout my whole life but Google tells me President Truman made it famous. This powerful principle can be applied to any team: mission team, sports team, family or staff.  However, if you’ve ever interacted with earthlings, you know that this does not come naturally. We are creatures that want to be noticed, highlighted, and given a handsome plaque to validate our coolness. Unfortunately, this want can also cause the team to forget the greater good or the big picture.

At Pathway Vineyard we are constantly working as a staff to allow each individual to thrive in their particular gift mix, but also be able to weave in and out of various roles as the need comes about. This is especially true during times of big events or when one member is facing a particularly stressful situation or when launching a new site, ministry or project. This is essential when you have a change in leadership.

When I decided to step down as a youth leader, it was based both on some of my family dynamics as baby #3 was coming and I knew that the needs of the youth group required someone with many more hours and giftings to give than I had during that season. This was tough. My fingerprints were all over the group—the way the youth service was run, the way leaders were trained, the way the prizes were given out…I didn’t do it all, but I owned it (in a good sense). But change was needed.

Knowing that transitions can be one of the most challenging times for people, we were proceeding with much caution and asking God for strategy in the process.

Mike, the pastor who ended up taking the group, had been a member of my team who had always filled in the many gaps with character and energy. He had a lot of vision and a lot of thoughts as to how things could be improved. As we discussed the transition period, it was decided that I would stay on the team and help model what it looks like to be a team member. We gave it about a nine month period so that the teens would not have my face drop off the planet but would also start to see Mike take the lead role. If you’ve had to walk through a transition like this, you know it is tough. I had always heard it suggested that the person stepping down leave completely so the new person doesn’t feel intimidated. But our leadership team and Mike and I decided that it was best for the group for us to stay, so it was time to really wrestle through the transition.

For my role, I had to make it my business to celebrate Mike publicly as much as I could, model following his lead, and model serving. Mike’s role was to take the lead, celebrate the past and discover what God had for the group in the future! This is where we both had to fight the comparison trap. He had to fight the voices in his head saying that I didn’t like a particular story, and I had to learn to edit my faces while he was preaching…cause evidently I tend to scowl and look like I disagree when I am listening intently! I had to fight the desire to defend my “old processes” when he brought in some great fresh ideas for assimilation and connection. He had to fight the desire to have my gift mix and I had to fight the desire to have his! We had to celebrate each others strengths and then walk in our own skin with confidence and humility!

This was a season for learning indifference (not the bad kind, but rather the kind who serves for the Greater Glory of God and the wellbeing of people regardless of what it looks like or if they get the credit). It was a season for staring insecurity in the face and seeing where we were finding value and identity. It was a rich season as we learned to celebrate each other and communicate honestly and humbly so that the lies in our heads could be brought to the light and dropkicked back to hell. We learned that sometimes Ephesians 4 really boils down to kindness and learning how to cheer for each other without requiring the other to become us:

1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

I think this is one of the greatest lessons when it comes to creating expectant kingdom youth groups. We can’t be trying to have the youth group down the street, we can’t wish we had that other youth leaders speaking abilities, or prophetic gifting.  We have to boldly go before the thrown of grace, let Him settle who we are and then walk in it. What has God given YOU for such a time as this? How has He wired YOU? What is He up to with the youth in front of you?

Recently I was blown away while reading the passage in John 13 about the washing of the disciples feet. Now, we have all heard a million times, “To lead is to serve.” That is the gig. We show up at youth group, talk with students, strategize with parents, pray our guts out…cause we want to serve. Right? But what blew me away in John 13 was verse 3 that I had not really focused on before. What made it possible for Jesus to lay down his diety, to take on the role of a servant, to engage in the activity that was the opposite of being the diva, the one getting the thank you cards or the one being recognized from the stage. Jesus was free to serve in this most extreme way because of verse 3:

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God

His identity was settled. He knew who he was before the Father. He knew the greater story of the redemption he was a part of.  He was therefore free to simply obey the Father regardless of his humanity.  It is amazing what can happen when we don’t care who gets the credit!

This also applies to the movement of the Spirit. So often we hear of miracle stories happening here, there or where ever and there is that moment that we think…”gee, wish I lived there!” or “I maybe I should move there, then miracles would happen” or “I think I will go to that youth group, cause they had someone get healed last week.” I like to do a miracle breakdown for our crew often.

Miracle Breakdown- Some dude (or dudette) somewhere, responded to the nudging of the Holy Spirit to ask God to intervene with His awesome kingdom into the brokenness of our present humanity…and He did.

That is it. No fancy potion, no required voice intonation, no passport required. Simply believing in a God who moves today, listening and watching for what He is up to and inviting His perfection into our junk.

This leads us to the question, “Where could you do this?” Why not my town? Why not my family? Why not my sick little sister? Why not here? It is our firm belief that creating expectant youth ministries means releasing each member of our crew to see themselves as one who brings revival[1] where ever they are no matter if they are leading the worship or setting up the iced mocha.

We are free to celebrate the many ways that God moves around the planet without feeling like we have to get on a plane, edit our style or beliefs to match theirs, or somehow prove that we are just as cool. No, we let the Lord settle our identity, who we are before the Father, what our piece of the revival puzzle is and then we take any of our insecurities straight to the cross. We pray for the youth group down the street, celebrate what God is doing through them, and we do our own thing with confidence. Think about it this way, if every single one of the youth groups in your town were full this week, with expectant hearts inviting the presence of the future age to show up and seeing lives totally transformed…you would still just be scratching the surface of what is needed in your town. It is not about competition or about having the mecca of where people flock to because you are so cool. It is about saying Yes to what the Father has asked YOU to do and doing it in your own skin rather than trying to put on someone else’s. As David Ruis so eloquently said in a recent chat with our Heroic Leadership Institute students, “it’s about impartation, not imitation.”


[1] Revival= Transformed lives, which leads to transformed families, which leads to transformed cities. Revival is not “louder meetings, more manifestations or bigger gatherings with cooler conference apps.” Revival is a life experiencing the in breaking of the kingdom of God in such a way that their life is being transformed and that is overflowing onto others. (Stepp version)

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Jenna Stepp
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