"What does this mean to stop hiding? How have I been hiding? Why have you spoken these Words to me Father?"
For most of my entire life I have grown up in the church. As a child and teenager, I would be on the quiet side in the sense that I listened more than I spoke, whether I was at youth group or with my family. I remember many times with my grandpa Shipley I was often quiet and listening to what was being said in conversations with other family members then he would look at me and say, “How are you doing?” To which I would respond, “I’m good.” “Good?! You’re always good!” As I would have a big smile on my face and continue to listen to the conversation as it resumed.
Growing up I was rather observant and soaked up a lot of the things around me as I processed what was being said. As I reflect, I would say that “I did not take up a lot of space around me” meaning sometimes I could just blend in with others around me or not make any actions that drew attention to myself. Whether this was in youth group, family gatherings, trips or in the various jobs I have done over the course of my life thus far. To this day I still do not like“drawing attention” to myself, as I am quite happy to help in the background and support others from the sidelines. However, I have found God challenging me more and more on this. With this being said, allow me to spend some time now talking about my personality type before I carry this blog further.
It is probably accurate to say that to an extent when growing up I was an introvert, but during my teenage years I switched from being an introvert to an extrovert. In the spring of 2014, I joined the Leadership Council for students at Ball State Christian Campus House (CCH) at the age of 21 and we took the Myers-BriggsType Indicator (MBTI). If you are not familiar with the MBT Iessentially it is an “introspective self-report questionnaire indicating differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.” The results were that I was an ENFJ meaning that I am “a person with the Extraverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judging personality traits. These warm, forthright types love helping others, and they tend to have strong ideas and values. They back their perspective with the creative energy to achieve their goals” (16 Personalities). We took this type indicator at CCH to help us studentleaders on the Leadership Council and Ministry Assistants to understand ourselves more and how we interact with those around us, which was quite helpful.
What was interesting at the time that I took the MBTI, I was borderline extrovert/introvert with just one question placing me into the extrovert type. Fast forward 8 years to the fall of 2022 I took a very similar test again through the Jungian Type Index (JTI) which is an alternative to the MBTI which was developed over a 10-year period by psychologists in Norway. This type index showed that I am still an ENFJ and that I continue to be borderline extrovert/introvert with one question that I responded to that placed me as an extrovert. What I have found about myself is I love being an extrovert in fellowship with other people as it gives me purpose and drive, but I recharge as an introvert in needing time to withdraw and refresh myself. So why do I share all of this?
In the spring of 2022, I was spending time in prayer and felt God speak to me in His Spirit and two simple words were spoken to me…
I remember being puzzled by this and quietly reflecting and praying about these two words to“stop hiding.” What does this mean to stop hiding? How have I been hiding? Why have you spoken these Words to me Father? What I felt was that God was and continues to challenge me with these two words to prepare me for the next season of ministry ahead. However, at this point in time in the spring of 2022, I was still puzzled by this and not sure what it meant.
Several months later in June I attended the Preachers gathering we had here in Sola, Norway. Preachers is a “workshop where teaching, process and learning from each other is intended to equip preachers, storytellers, communicators and voices who want to develop and rethink the art of preaching.” This started with Nate Edwardson at the Stirring church in Redding, California as we (IMI Church )have a good relationship with him and his church. So, Nate came to Norway with several others to teach and interact with this workshop on preaching. During the first evening we gathered, Nate shared what we would be spending our time on during Preachers.
There were three things he shared that struck me that ties into this blog. The first thing he shared, “When you know who you are, you won’t want to be anyone else.” The second was a quote he shared by Brene Brown in which Nate paraphrased as,“Courage begins when we show up and are allowed to be seen.” The third item he spoke on was true humility versus false humility. The third point in particularly struck a chord within me and immediately God reminded me of what He had spoken to me several months prior as “stop hiding” ran through my mind again.
It was then I realized in my heart I was wrestling with humility in the sense that I was hiding in my humility away from God and using humility as a place to retreat to rather than stepping out onto the platform when God wanted me to.
I had a false humility about myself, but not in the way false humility is traditionally defined which is as being prideful. A person who brags about being humble, yet seeks attention and admiration such as the religious hypocrites Jesus speaks of in Matthew 6.
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Matthew 6:5-6 NLT
When Jesus teaches this, he was not forbidding public or corporate prayer, but was instructing his followers to not use praying as a means of drawing attention to themselves. Why the words false humility struck me that evening at Preachers was that God was pointing out that I was using my humility as a safety blanket or excuse to not take steps forward that would inevitably draw attention to myself. Not for selfish ambition or reasons, but genuinely because that is a part of being a missionary and leader in the church.
Another way for me to elaborate on this further would be the following. I have written a previous blog on what I am about to share so I will not go into full depth, but you can read it by clicking Leader = Servant. In short, while working as an Assistant Campus Minister at Ball State Christian Campus House I was approached by one of the students that attended CCH for an interview as part of class she was doing. She asked me, “How would you define leadership?” The answer I gave was, “I would define leadership as building a platform for others to stand on.” I believe that answer was spirit driven and also from my experience in ministry thus far. However, it ultimately laid with Jesus because of how he carried himself as a leader or should I say servant.
Yesterday as I write this blog, I actually shared what I wrote above with one of the pastor leaders at IMI Church as she asked how my wife Mikaela and I were doing with leading the IMI International House Churches. I shared how I defined leadership and added with my role, “If I am building up others so that they are able to lead, teach and speak from the platform, then it is important that I myself know how to lead, teach and speak from the platform first.” To be clear when I use the word platform, I do not mean it exclusively being a stage where one speaks to their respective church congregation although it can be this at times. When I use the word platform, I use it in a way that the platform can be whatever or wherever God places you to lead, teach and speakfrom.
If the platform God places you on is sitting in the living room on a couch during your weekly House Church, Bible Study or Small Group surrounded by fellow believers and people of different faiths, then that is the platform. If the platform God places you on is a Sunday hike in the mountains with friends or strangers who open up to you about the difficulties and challenges, they are currently facingin their lives and you have the ability to speak the love of Christ, faithful wisdom and God’s comfort into their lives, then that is the platform. If the platform God places you on is in a classroom in being a guest teacher or speaker to teach about spiritual warfare to a room with 25 young adults, then that is the platform.
The platform can be whatever God intends as long as you honor Him with your heart posture in knowing that He is the one who has placed you there and not yourself.
Since June of last summer and today I still set aside time to pray and listen to God about the words stop hiding He has spoken to me. I remember praying to God asking Him, “Show me how and what it means to stop hiding. How does a person stop hiding if that is all he or she has ever known?” I believe God has been leading and guiding me through this even though it is taking time to seek His wise counsel and leading in this.
I have realized part of the reason why I wrestle with hiding is the reality many Christian leaders, volunteers or members in the church regularly face each year and that is being burned out. During my time in ministry, I have met other Christian leaders, volunteers or members in churches who have been burnt out because they are involved in too many things and become overwhelmed and withdraw from many things including church life. Generally speaking, this usually comes to fruition because of saying yes to too many things in not setting boundaries or church leadership not respecting the boundaries and heavily relying upon volunteers to do many things inside and outside of the church.
Tied to hiding in humility in not stepping forward when God would like me to lead or speak on something, I also put-up walls. I put up walls more so than boundaries because I am afraid I to will become burnt out if I say yes to everything inside and outside of church life. What I have learned thus far with the connection of stop hiding, is that I need to know my calling and purpose well as a Christian leader to the things God is calling me to and the things he is NOT calling me to. So, I need the Holy Spirit’s guidance to know what I should be saying yes to in stepping out onto the platform or saying no to stepping out onto a platform because that is not what God is ultimately calling me to do.
For myself, if I am going to stop hiding then I will need God’s guidance and leading through His Holy Spirit to show me how and what it means to stop hiding so that I am faithfully stepping out onto the platform when He is wanting me to do so. To me this has been and still is a rather interesting statement and command to follow with these words God has spoken to me. So as “Committed” was my word for 2021, “Stop Hiding” was my word for 2022 and continues to ring true for 2023 so far.
When it comes to stop hiding, I initially found myself praying to God seeking the answers to what and how it looks like to stop hiding as if it were something outside of myself. However, God has been revealing that the answer begins with understanding who I am such as my personality traits, my calling, preaching style and more. Perhaps in the near future I will write a part two to this blog, however the story is still being written as I learn what He has in store for the words Stop Hiding.
Perhaps something I have shared relates to you as you have read this blog in that God may possibly be inviting you to stop hiding or know what it is He is calling you to do. Blessings
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on yourown understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NLT