Dancing with Doubt

I spent last Sunday morning before church at our community farmer’s market, and not at Sunday School. It was a strategic move suggested by my Head of Staff aimed at observing what’s going on out there while we’re all in here.

It didn’t take long for me to begin doubting what I was doing. Not the idea, but me. I was dressed for church, not the market. I didn’t know anyone there. I was gawking. The temptation to ditch it and make for my usual Sunday routine was strong (This, I’m certain, is how people feel when they come to church for the first time).

I’m 38, and it seems I’m no closer to overcoming this kind of self-doubt and uncertainty than when I was 12. The fairy tale that one day I’ll grow out of it and tackle every new challenge with confidence is fading in favor of a story about taking small steps every day (like blog posts).

If we wait until we’re completely sure of ourselves to take meaningful action, we will never do it. Self doubt will probably be with us our entire lives. No matter how many times we succeed, each new venture is a chance to fail, and I can see the failure much more vividly than I can see the success.

As leaders in churches, we should not expect this self doubt to go away. It’s true: you’re not the best-suited person to organize that new outreach experiment, and there are a bunch of ways you could screw it up. But you are a person who can do it. You can ask that new visitor to coffee. You can learn that new song for worship. You can (stay with me here) invite a teenager or two to accompany you in some meaningful work. You can do these things and doubt your ability to do them at the same time. You don’t have to conquer the doubt first.

You can dance with it instead.

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