Rev Dr Garrick Wilson reminds young leaders that the journey to becoming who God has called them to be is far more important that the destination they have in mind
The Zulu word ‘uhambo’, which translates as ‘journey’, encapsulates a way of walking and responding. It goes beyond a regular journey; the focus is not on the destination per se. Instead, accent is given to each moment, sight, sound and feeling. It is to unplug from the matrix, which is the deletion of everything that prevents us from connecting with people.
For many young church leaders, preparations are near completion for the New Year. Having conversed with several millennial leaders, a recurring trend is the compulsion to discard the things that did not work over the past year – or find methodologies to remedy them – and there is a relentless journey toward the pursuit of ideals and best practice. Slow progress is not celebrated as progress; instead, there is an addictive haste to get somewhere and to be someone, and oftentimes the destination supersedes the journey.
As we strategise for the New Year, I call for a retreat from the lure to be destination addicts – the type of addiction that causes us to circumvent the sights, sounds and textures of the journey. To uhambo is to travel without an end goal in mind. We travel as learners and we dispossess ourselves from the ideal outcomes. In doing so, we will find ourselves present in every moment, resulting in rich and diverse revelations. When we are present, we are proximal, and proximity is not just about geography, it is the notion that we are shaped by those we connect with along the journey. Our connections must be authentic.
As leaders we are called to spaces where people are struggling. We do not avoid their despair by prophesying hope, we uhambo with them through proximity to find the hope that does not live separately to despair. We discover together the hope that is alive in despair.
I offer the following thoughts as you plan for the year ahead:
- Remember who you are: The busyness of leadership can necessitate the wearing of multiple hats. However, it is vital that you do not dilute the potency of your unique calling and vocation. Retreat from the things that you have considered important over the past year but, with hindsight, you now know to be insignificant. Reconnect with who you are, your spark, your passion and your courage. Retreat from the pressure of comparison and embark on your journey.
- Remember what you carry: You do not journey alone; play host to those travelling with you and to those whom you will meet en route. Pack for the road; you might meet your neighbour, who might be wounded and in need of what you carry – your oil and your wine. Offload anything that compromises your ability to operate in your giftings. From a practical standpoint, review each quarter of the year by identifying the themes that emerged from the past quarter; then ascertain what you should offload and onload for the next quarter. Your conclusions will help to build capacity for the next quarter.
- Remember who you are with: Proximity to those you lead is vital. Don’t just resolve their issues through prayer and prophetic words; your prophecy should go beyond utterances and flow into a journey of actions. Be present in the arduous moments of life with them. The bulk of your ministry should be with them, away from social media and the stage. In practical terms, undertake a monthly appraisal of how much you know about where your people are, what they need, and how well you are connecting with them. Always empower your leaders to lift your hands, so that you do not carry the weight alone. Trust them to journey along with you also.
- Remember who is with you: God is immanent. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Your vocation can seem isolating and frustrating at times; however, remember that you are graced to do it. God does not only exist in your high moments, but He also resides in your isolation and frustration too. Instinct might compel you to escape being isolated; however, your isolation could be a place of encounters and direction. Try this practical approach: devise a weekly plan that prioritises time with God. This is far more advantageous than a daily to-do list, which is usually solely focused on tasks. Consider including sleep time, movement, and healthy eating within your plan. By optimising your physical energy, your week will be more productive, and time spent with God will be more insightful.
Enjoy the journey. Wishing you a happy and rewarding 2024.
Rev Dr Garrick Wilson is Senior Pastor of NTCG Covenant Church; Lead for NTCG’s Emerging Ministers Forum, and a director of BUILD, a mentoring initiative for young leaders. He works as a medical scientist and academic in oncology and convergence science.