This was not the first time I heard these words. More and more people were leaving the church, and leaving my life. You’d think it’d get easier to hear, or that I’d be used to it by now. But every time I heard these words — it hurt a little more, and broke my heart a little more. This time they came from some really close friends. “I’m leaving…” Where did I do wrong? Why is everyone leaving? I thought we were in this together? This is not fair!” — These thoughts were daunting, and they were proof that I had hit the hardest season I’ve ever experienced in my life.
A few years ago, I remember hearing God say to me, “I have made you undaunted.” When I looked up the meaning, I was so excited: Not intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment. What?! I’ll take it. Yes. I want to live a life (especially as a leader) where I can keep on going regardless of what happens.
What I didn’t realize is that it was God saying, “hey — what you’re about to go through will be really hard. It will probably be the biggest and largest storm you’ll ever encounter. But remember — on the inside, you are undaunted. And you are going to grow in the process.”
This season has been filled with feelings — feeling overlooked, feeling abandoned, feeling under-accomplished (like I should be further along than I am), feeling defeated and sometimes wanting to quit.
I think my epiphany came when I started reading about Joseph … you know, that guy in the bible who was sold into slavery and ended up being second in command under Pharaoh. I’ve always admired this guy. I want to be like him — second in command, building the church, and leading people. Until recently, I neglected to see that Joseph had to go through some pretty big “storms” to get from the lowest point of his life to the highest point of his life. Joseph felt a lot of what I felt, abandoned, forgotten, and defeated… But his story didn’t end there.
Here are some keys I learned from Joseph that have helped me (and are continuing to help me) get through these stormy seasons:
1. Joseph learned the right posture and made the most of where he was placed.
The dude was a slave… but he was faithful, obedient, and never complained wherever he was at. Beneath the surface of every place he went and every role he held was the underlying confidence that it was an opportunity for God to move. Joseph kept moving forward. He kept gaining experience and growing his character. So that when much was given — he could handle the weight of it. Are we faithful with what we’ve been entrusted with even though we don’t understand what God is doing? If we learn the right posture and make the most of our current season, we will become strong enough to carry the weight of the promotion or the next season.
2. The Lord was with Joseph, and everyone recognized God was with him.
Time with God is essential to our growth! Success followed Joseph in the palace and in the jail cell because the Lord was with him. Do our actions and our character cause others to recognize God is with us even during challenging times? This is a hard question I had to ask myself recently. What do people see when they look at me? The leadership abilities of Bethany Garcia — or the love and grace of Jesus Christ?
3. Joseph recognized that his promotion was not for him but for others.
This is the biggest lesson I learned. God gave Joseph a dream. Joseph first interpreted the dream to mean that his brothers would bow to him (inward focus). After getting through the storms, Joseph realized the dream was actually about serving others (outward focus). Do people feel valued when they are around us? Or do they see someone who only cares about personal gain?
Here is the takeaway: Every step of Joseph’s journey was necessary and purposeful, even the storms. Every piece of the puzzle was needed to complete the full picture and purpose of God. The misfortunes he faced were setups, not setbacks. If Joseph hadn’t become a slave, he wouldn’t have become a king.
We can look at our circumstances through God’s eyes, not our natural perspective, and see that God is weaving it all together into a complete tapestry.
Know this — God has made you undaunted. He has made you strong on the inside so you would not be intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment. Because HE is with you every step of the way.
My question for you is, What season are you in? What might God be building on the inside of you so that you are ready for the next season?
ABOUT BETHANY GARCIA
Bethany Garcia is the Director of Operations at Capital City Church in Washington, DC. She loves all things sports, french fries, traveling, and Italy.