Following God's Lead
Since I launched Fishhook in 2003, a keystone to my life and leadership has been Psalm 37:4, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” As we focus our attention more and more on God, He places desires, ideas and vision in our hearts. That is how Fishhook was born - 15 years ago. In 2017, I followed the Lord's prompting to go on sabbatical. The prompting came through my business partner, Leah Norton, who knew I had struggled to find purpose and fulfillment in my work at Fishhook for the previous couple years. That suggestion was affirmed by close friends and my pastor. I would get away and seek God's fresh vision for me and for Fishhook. The result of that time away with my wife and with God brought two words - transition and expansion. A clear call to begin a leadership transition to Leah and a geographic expansion of Fishhook to Nashville and Denver. And so we followed that vision and made our plans.
A year ago the team, my wife Debbie and I committed to that vision. Debbie and I would focus on Nashville, another teammate, Lindsay Dudeck, would focus on Denver, and Fishhook leaders would lead the company, support our moves and continue to serve clients across the country. By summer 2018, Debbie and I were Tennessee residents. We went about the business of settling in, making friends, connecting with our new church and reaching out to church leaders on behalf of Fishhook. Our calling to Nashville was crystal clear. But as business development activities began in earnest, my new role with Fishhook was less clear.
For everyone involved on our team, even with great love for one another and the greatest intentions, this leadership transition was challenging. For me, handing off leadership and striving to find work that brings fulfillment and purpose is not the tidy story I was telling myself and others this could be. (By the way, this process is giving me greater empathy for senior pastors and other church staff who we’ve seen navigate their own transitions and for the church leaders that accompany them on those steps.)
Again, for us at Fishhook, even with the best intentions from all parties, Leah and the leadership team and I have struggled during this season. And in the end, we haven’t found alignment in how Fishhook can best move ahead. This has created headwind to us accomplishing our mission and that struggle has brought into our journey the truth of Proverbs 16:9, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”
Through prayer, God's word, the counsel of our pastor and in working with the Fishhook leaders and our business advisor, I've made a decision about my role at Fishhook and discovered a truth about me.
A decision for Fishhook, I'm stepping away.
About seven years ago, I started a process at Fishhook when I said to Leah and others, "We need to make Fishhook less and less Evan-centric. For the longevity of the mission, we cannot continue to build processes, the organization or the brand around me." If Fishhook would live past its founder, if I was committed to mission over self, I needed to start giving away my job one piece at a time. This has been exhilarating. Leah's leadership capacity, and the fact we have done so much good work together, made her a natural fit not only as a leader but also as my business partner and most recently as our Managing Partner. My two other key roles, business development and marketing, were handed over to Shayla Kenworthy and Aimee Cottle respectively, and they exceeded my expectations. Fishhook is on an amazing course and I have every confidence in these leaders.
The decision I've now made, for Fishhook's continued longevity, is to step away from day-to-day activities with Fishhook to give these leaders more room to lead. We all anticipate I'll have a continued relationship with the team as advisor, cheerleader and ambassador. However, my main work will no longer be at Fishhook.
The truth about me, I'm wired to lead people.
As I take a candid assessment of my gifts, strengths and what brings me to life, it is leading a team of people. I find great purpose in discovering the potential in people, encouraging them, loving them, challenging them and helping them accomplish a God-centered mission while they grow more fully in Christ. While God may have brought me to Middle Tennessee under the banner of Fishhook’s business development, and while it is hard to say this publicly, I now believe God brought Debbie and me here for something other than Fishhook. What is that? We don't know for sure, but we believe it may be in more direct pastoral ministry. We don't have clarity on that next step, but we're eager to discover it, and we've had enough experience walking with God to know His faithfulness, provision and promises are dependable. We walk into the uncertain future with the certainty of Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
We continue to see God work. We believe Fishhook's best days are ahead. We believe God will soon reveal what's next for Debbie and me, for our work and our lives serving God.
Love you all!