When I was 10 years old, my family made the move from Salem, Oregon to Billings, Montana. Moving to a city where a significant portion of the population was Native American, I elected to do my first book report on the history of some of the local tribes. One fact that has always stuck with me was the extent to which these local tribes used the animals that they hunted. The hides were used for clothing, muscles and organs for eating, and even the bones were used to make tools and sewing needles. It seemed that nothing was wasted.
I think that God is a like that too. It’s only with the benefit of hindsight that you can see it. I’ve often looked back at my life and experiences and clearly seen how things that didn’t make the remotest of sense at the time ended up being a building block for the future. Even in the bad experiences, the tough experiences, and the ones I hope I don’t ever have to go through again, I can see some level of utility.
Truth be told, I can look all the way back to my paper route I got shortly after moving to Montana and see the foundations of my adult life. That paper route taught me a work ethic that later helped me to land a job at Chick-fil-A when I was 14. The experience at Chick-fil-A helped shape what I wanted to do in life and how I view leadership as service. Step by step, job by job, I can see how my life built upon itself in ways that, at the time, seemed out of place.
Another example is my MBA. Shortly after moving to Hungary in 2009, I felt like God was leading me towards a master’s degree, but I wasn’t attracted to the programs that I considered ‘traditional ministry’ tracks. My brother and I had a conversation and he asked me what I had always seen in my life, and I responded that I always ended up in leadership or management. It was he who challenged me to consider an MBA. I wasn’t sure, and it was only after going through three confirmations that I agreed to look into it.
That education was instrumental in being trusted to work on a leadership project at headquarters that kept us around with OMS after we left Hungary. Returning to Hungary in 2014, my experience working with leadership at headquarters was part of why they felt that I might do all right as a Field Director.
You see how these events, though confusing at the time, all played together. Those are just three links in a lifetime of God making use of every experience. This isn’t to say that they were all easy—most of the forging process for links in my ‘chain’ have been tough—but I have learned through them all, become stronger and perhaps wiser than I would have been otherwise.
The next experience that God is using is at hand. I’m writing this blog post from the airport coffee shop in Rome, Italy where I’m on my way to visit the OMS ministry here as my first trip as Associate Regional Director. OMS has asked me to gradually transition into the role of Regional Director of the Eurasia region, which fully takes place next July 1, 2020.
Honestly, I can say that this wasn’t something I was aspiring to. I’m perfectly happy to continue in my current capacity, and truthfully, don’t feel that I have completed everything I intend to in Hungary. However, after seeking counsel from those closest to me, the advice everyone gave me was that this is clearly the next link in the chain. God continues to make use of all of the experiences, skills, success, and struggles that I have had over the years. I like to say struggles, because as I often say, failure is only truly failure if we refuse to learn from it.
So how am I able to handle day-to-day leadership operations in Hungary while taking on new responsibility? Well, a while back I felt the need to start looking for middle level leadership and God has blessed me with great team members. That leadership gives me the flexibility to focus regionally and not lose momentum in Hungary. This is just another way that God provided for the future, allowing me to continue for the time being in both roles.
So how is God leading you? What are the patterns that he has placed in your life? When you surrender all of you to His direction, I know that God will