It is really crazy all of the ways that fear can manifest itself. I was recently reminded of the time I had a meltdown at work because of a complete void of personal confidence.
It went like this…
I was promoted to the job of Vice President of the coffee house division for the strong regional coffee company where I had been working for about seven years at this time. I was promoted from Corporate Controller. All of the sudden my job went from closing the accounting books in five days to finding, leasing, bilding and opening coffee houses in 8 weeks.
We had a Starbucks’ alumni start the division for us. He had opened the first two stores and we decided we didn’t want to be a Starbuck’s copycat. I enter in with all of the culture of our 75 year old Louisiana heritage and the enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning.
What if You Don’t Know What You Are Doing?
The problem everyone seemed to forget was that I had never designed or built anything, not even a personal home.
I was charged with creating a store design that matched our culture and roots. We wanted old New Orleans, not contemporary Seattle.
Plus I was used to cutting costs and saving the company money. Now I was in charge of the investment division aka the drain on the cash cow.
Don’t get me wrong, I had been begging for my own part of the business to run for at least a year; since giving birth to my twins. This was one of those reinforcing moments of “be careful what you ask for”.
My first tasks as the new VP were to present to the board of directors my vision for our infant coffee house division, open the 3rd store which was finishing construction, and find a designer and construction company to create and build our new unique coffee house concept.
Within 3 weeks I was in the CEO’s office, tears threatening to flood the weakening dam, basically confessing that I didn’t know what I was doing. The CEO had hired me many years ago when he was the CFO and I was an entry level financial analyst.
We had a history. More like he had been on this roller coaster ride with me before. In thinking back on it I can still summon up the embarrassment of the many times I had been in front of him telling him I was in over my head. Embarrassed yes, but I didn’t feel bad. He had told me early on that his strategy for developing people was to let them go under water, and as long as their head was still bobbing up above the surface he would leave them be. It wasn’t until they submerged, he said, that he would throw the lifeline. Gee thanks.
The problem is I was constantly bobbing and usually didn’t believe that I was going to make it back up for air.
So here I am back in his office, with yet another huge responsibility looming over me, and I am panicked. My short career is flashing before my eyes but I feel a sense of moral obligation to tell him he has made a bad choice. After all, if I single handedly took down this 85 year old company he would probably be in big trouble too.
As I confessed the tears began to fall. “I don’t know what I am doing. I don’t think I can get us a unique store design. I have never built anything before, not even a bird house. Are you sure you picked the right person for this job.”
Lack of Confidence is a Personal Problem
He just leaned back in his chair and waited for me to finish my full death row confession. This made it worse because I was rambling now and going on way too much about my inadequacy.
When I finally shut up. He looked straight at me and said, “I have complete confidence in your ability to do this. You are the one that doesn’t have confidence in yourself. That’s a personal problem that you need to figure out and move past.”
Period. End of meeting.
He had confidence in me. He had mentored me for the past 7 years and had trained me up for just such an opportunity. He wasn’t making a wild gamble. He knew my abilities.
God Doesn’t Make Mistakes
I think Jesus feels the same way. God creates us and gives us all of our gifts, talents, and temperaments. He knows what we can do. He created us so he could use us to grow His Kingdom. Yet how many times do we go to Him and say “I can’t do this Lord. You picked the wrong person.”
He listens. He is patient. But he stands by His decision. Just as my old boss was thinking “I put you here for a reason. I trained you up for just this challenge.” I believe God has similar thoughts. And when we think He may not be rescuing us from submerging, what He is really saying is “I have confidence in you!” He knows we can do it. We need to just have faith in ourselves.
Evidence Grows Faith
I went on to open 28 more coffee houses. We had a very traditional New Orleans style feel to our cafes. Lot’s of wrought iron and pictures of jazz musicians. Dark wood counters and granite tables sat on our scored, stained concrete floors. Aromas of rich ground coffee beans permeated the room, full of seating, as southerners like to stay awhile and catch up with friends. Our coffee houses were more than a place for a quick cup of joe. They were a haven for folks to come relax, work or chat with familiar faces and sip their favorite blend.
God wants to create a haven too! His Kingdom is alive and present here on earth and He wants to use us, His followers, to grow it. All we have to do is have the courage and faith to step out and do our part. The part that our Heavenly Father created us to do.
Stepping Out in Faith
New challenges come and I am on the cusp of one myself. I try to learn from my past and this current opportunity brought back all of these memories. This time God is my CEO, but the rest of the story is the same. I have to remember that I have built a history of evidence that says I can conquer new and different challenges. So I think I will save the tears, take a deep breath, and step out in faith to do what God is giving me to do!
How about you? Are you facing serious challenges or opportunities? Are your ready to step out with me?