“Does anyone else see this?”

“Why am I here all alone while these people stand and watch and do nothing?”

Those are some of the thoughts that were flying through my head this weekend.

You see, my family went to one of our state parks for some summer fun. There is a really cold swimming hole at the base of one of the cliffs that is probably 20 to 30 feet deep. This swimming hole sits in the bottom of a gorge that is lined with cliffs and fed by a series of rapids, so you can imagine the swift current. I happened to be standing at the base of one of the cliffs on a rock that juts out into the water. I had no idea a defining moment in my life was about to happen. But aren’t you glad you don’t know when they are coming?

I had turned to say something to my daughter when I heard a scream. The only thing I saw when I whipped my head back around were two small children in the middle of the current desperately trying to stay on top of the water as they pushed each other under to stay afloat.

Time stopped.

I didn’t even know I had made the decision to dive into the water until after my head emerged from the water.

There were two children. How would I save both? How would I choose which one to save? God, in His sovereignty, allowed another adult to react and we were able to get both children to safety. As I hauled my shaking self out of the fast moving water, I noticed that the cliffs were lined with people. Watching, just watching. I couldn’t escape the anger I felt watching them do nothing. That same anger can exist when leaders are paralyzed with fear and refuse to embrace their own defining moment.

Here are 3 leadership lessons I learned from my defining moment:

1) Trust your instincts. God didn’t call you into ministry just to watch you struggle and question what you should do. He has equipped you and you should trust your ministerial instincts. What is that one ministry decision you are putting off because of fear? I want to encourage you today to JUMP IN! God will give you grace in the moment as you lead.

2) Refuse complacency. So many “what ifs” have plagued my mind since this weekend’s near tragedy. Mostly I have thought, “what if I had done nothing?” It makes more of an impact to consider a potential loss than anticipate a potential change. So when you introduce change in your ministry, spend less time talking about what will happen during the change and more time talking about what will happen if you don’t make the change.

3) God can use you where you are. Do you ever feel you are past your usefulness? That is just a plain lie! God is only limited when you allow your influence to be limited. Embrace the opportunity you have to lead your student ministry into it’s own defining moment.

I encourage you to take some time to identify that place in your ministry that is crying for help and take the risk today to engage it with courage. It could lead you to your very own defining moment.

Shellie Hochstetler encourages parents of teenagers daily at www.ParentMinistry.net and www.Parentzilla.com. She has survived raising 4 teenagers and in her own words, “they are extremely awesome”. She describes parenting as “terrifying but fulfilling, lonely while extremely loud, and completely exhausting while in the same breathe exhilarating!” Shellie lives in her dream home in Nashville, TN with her husband, kids, a horse, and some chickens.