- Becky Ykema
17 years ago, I began what would be a significant chapter of my life. I took my first position on a church staff. Now, as I transition into a new calling on my life for however long the Lord leads, I find myself reflecting on the gift each church has offered in my journey.
PARK TAUGHT ME I CAN.
As a newly minted college grad with Bible and Music degrees, I ventured into my first position at Park Community Church in Chicago. I was hired to give leadership to their emerging church service (remember that was thing?), and Jim Dougherty took a chance on me. He spoke leadership into my life. He gave me a budget to manage, a team to develop, and a service to run. I ran hard, tripped up, brushed off my dusty knees and got right back at it. Park provided me a space to try, to create, write music, and form a band. Park is where I met my husband. On so many fronts, Park taught me I can.
WILLOW TAUGHT ME HOW TO.
When the glass ceiling was too constraining and my prayers were fervent for the next right fit, I received a call out of the blue from an acquaintance, asking if I'd consider coming out to sing on a weekend sometime at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. This gradual trickle into my next ministry chapter served as a pivotal growth and development period of my life. I worked under the incredible leadership of Matt Lundgren for (just shy of) eight years.
Willow taught me the "how to's" and if I'm honest, a handful of "not to do's." I learned how to lead and engage a room of 7,000 people, while remaining authentic and true to the person God created me to be. I learned how to carry myself, how to work with a production team, and how I want to treat others. I learned how to work on a creative team. I learned how to navigate very difficult conversations through watching my coworkers fight for what they cared about. I thank Willow for teaching me the how to's.
ASCENT TAUGHT ME I AM.
Despite being told otherwise, I couldn't fight the feeling that God had given me the ability to pastor a worship team, and develop a worship culture within a church. Ascent Community Church provided me that very opportunity to explore, learn, grow, and become. The leaders of Ascent affirmed my leadership capability. I was seen and heard. I was given a platform to lead. Ascent provided me a shelter to heal and an incubator to grow a healthy worship team. I am forever grateful for Ascent teaching me I am a worship pastor.
17 years. I am so grateful for what each place has taught me. What's next?
I will be writing more. There's a lot in this head and heart that wants to be shared. I will continue to serve the broader church through coaching worship leaders and vocalists, contract worship leading, and continuing my current work with Slingshot Group.
I look forward to this new adventure; one that will be marked by rest, getting quiet, and serving God in some new ways. However, it will not be without many moments looking back with gratitude for the places I have had the privilege of serving.