I was exhausted. I felt completely out of place. I was trying to describe my work, and trying to cast vision from the small footprint we had, but no-one seemed to get it - it looked pretty, but it didn't seem to make sense to people.
What do we do with this colourful paint splodge?
"Trav, you're so creative." I know it was meant as a compliment, but as a leader I took it as being dismissed - too hard to understand, and uncertain of where I should fit in the normal categories of ministry.
Our programs weren't gaining the traction I was hoping for, my team was dwindling, and I'd come to the point of realising I needed to clear the decks and start again. No doubt, the impact in people's lives through what we were doing was nothing short of amazing, but our approach wasn't multiplying - something needed to change for us to permeate beyond the small circle that had grown around us.
This meant asking a number of valued volunteers to discontinue their involvement with the organisation - people who had invested themselves into the ministry - I was in struggle town.
Two years ago I was seated in the circle of leaders I was tracking with for the year, and I was in no mood to bare my soul to the group. I was surrounded by high-powered not-for-profit leaders - managers of large teams, and millions of dollars - so when it came to my turn to 'check in', I did what any good Aussie leader does: I made a wise-crack at my own expense.
"As I listen to all the great things you guys are doing, I think I might be here just to make up the numbers!"
Under the guise of flying under the tall-poppy radar, I am well-practiced in the fine art of self-deprecation. I may be completely devoid of any sense of belonging or self-belief in the presence of these people, but at least I could make them laugh!
But this apparently warm-hearted attempt at humour is a ruse. A diversion. A defense mechanism. I'm learning that the well-intended minimisation of my own value is in fact a denial of God's longing to multiply His kingdom through me.
So, as I look to 2020, God is forging a new sense of CONFIDENCE within my own spirit. He has prompted some ideas for a new angle for my involvement in His work, and He is opening up some doors of opportunity - and I have a responsibility to respond to His lead with CONFIDENCE.
However unlikely it seems, and however uncertain I feel, I remain committed to the belief (and activity) that my small contribution will make a significant difference.
It is my responsibility to trust that what I've been given is valuable enough to be stewarded with diligence and expectation.
At this early stage, it's hard to make sense of the creative splodge on the page, but I'm trusting that as I put it out there, God will paint it into something far greater than I ever imagined.