Courage, Tenacity and a strong sense of Calling: A conversation with Becki Bunger

Time is such a strange animal. One day you’re leading a songwriting workshop in Devon, and the next, one of the kids you sat crafting some song lyrics with, is suddenly the assistant manager of the charity you manage.

I can’t take any credit for her career development before she worked for me, but I love the fact our paths crossed more than a couple of times before she started working for me three years ago. (I appreciate I’ve just breezed past a lot of life there, but for narrative structure, I’ll cut to the chase)

Becki, when I met you, I think I was 28 years old, and you were 13. Although I didn’t always make the most of the opportunities I had, I would say I slipped quite quickly from one leadership position to another. You’re now 26 years old, and the assistant manager of Bridgnorth Youth & Schools Project. What has your journey into leadership/ management looked like? Has it been easy? 

I don’t know that anyone’s journey into leadership or management is necessarily easy. My leadership journey has been a long time in the making, from volunteering at my Church to working for a Church alongside completing my degree, to working full time in Christian ministry. That process was twelve years in the making, and it’s only in the last month that I started in an official managerial role. 

Two main things categorise that season of my life. Firstly, intentional and consistent spiritual development, so that my life reflects Jesus as best it can. Secondly, the motivation to work hard and serve people.  

I like to think that I got into a management position because I worked hard and proved my worth. But it’s fair to say that I asked to be taken seriously as well. Although it was in the pipeline to become the Assistant Manager, for example, I also made it clear that it was my desire and asked for that title. 

I remember the planning meeting. You, me and the chair of the trust were planning the year, and you just came out with it! I admire your tenacity a great deal. What’s funny though is I’d sit and wait to be noticed all day long before I could pluck up the courage to ask for something I wanted, but you sat across me and told me exactly what you wanted! 

Was that easy to do? Can someone learn to be that courageous? Was it even courage, or are we talking about tenacity? Are girls just more forthright than guys? There are so many questions!

I think that courage is learned behaviour, so yes, anyone can learn to be courageous! But you have to be prepared to look a bit of a wolly if it doesn’t go your way. 

In terms of whether it’s a boy-girl thing, that’s an interesting question. I attended an all-girls Catholic Secondary school and a lot of the rhetoric there was that as women, we often had to ask to be noticed, especially over our male counterparts. A lot of the men that I graduated with took on managerial roles straight out of University; I question whether I, as a woman, would have been offered such a position had I applied. 

Okay, so I keep thinking we’re talking about equality, but I think the question about learning to be courageous is more interesting. Becki, how does someone, ‘Take courage?’

In the bible, the book of Joshua talks about courage. 

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1: 7-9 (NIV)

Talking really simply, Joshua was able to take courage because he knew his calling. There’s something about courage which is linked to knowing what you’re supposed to be doing. For me, I think of it as a call God has on my life. I feel a call to work here with you, and so when we’re talking about whether it was brave to ask to be made the assistant manager, the answer for me is no; it felt more like a commitment to my calling to step forward and speak openly about what I wanted.

So there is a real distinction between being brave, and taking courage? Bravery would he about something in front of me which I need to tackle head-on, meaning I could act bravely. Whereas what you seem to be saying is that courage is more about conviction?

Yeah, I think there’s something about courage which is held through the long term. But it feels for me like there’s something more spontaneous about bravery. It’s based more on the adrenalin of a moment. Conversely, courage is more about long term resilience, which means that you build up to it.

Becki, that’s interesting. Around 12 years ago I felt a calling to coordinate youth ministry across an area in East Devon; I was sure it was what God was telling me to do, except when I tried, I crashed and burned. Fast forward six or seven years, and I was still holding onto that when I realised what God had called me to was an area in Shropshire. Interesting that when God told me about what he wanted me to be doing, I wasn’t yet in the correct location, or capable. I had to wait. Is this also what you’re talking about?

Yes, exactly! And that is a very king David story, isn’t it! He was told young that he was going to be the king, but David had to wait, to grow into it. Still, he was courageous in standing firm while he waited, and then he grabbed it when the time is right.

If this is the case, then what can you tell us as a takeaway? Is there a core message we’re arriving at here?

I think courage is linked to knowing where you’re going. It’s often easy to think you need to be brave in moments you encounter, especially moments that feel like your shot to succeed, but don’t worry about missing moments. Spend more time considering where you’re going in the long term and move gently towards your goals, speaking openly and honestly with the people who can help you make those things become a reality.

Becki, thanks so much. I feel so grateful to know you, I love working with you and I’m even more pleased you’re after my job! 😆

I’m very proud of you, keep pushing forward.

Four Questions with Tom Elliott: Stuck in the Mud Podcast Stuck in the Mud Podcast

In this interview, Tom and John discuss creativity, discipline, writing and comedy.   You can also listen to this conversation on the 'Stuck in the Mud Podcast' available through Podbean, Google, Amazon & Apple.   Stuck in the Mud  Framed around twelve real-life sticking points in John Prockter's life, this book offers us hope in a faithful God and a pathway through difficult times. John encourages us to engage with Scripture in a new and inspiring way, allowing Jesus to bring the freedom we all need to live our lives authentically.   Frank yet approachable, Stuck in the Mud? is an ideal guide for those wanting to engage in the ups and downs of discipleship.  Video https://youtu.be/79v9HJ0djZc  Good Reads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20182740.John_Prockter  Eden https://www.eden.co.uk/christian-books/personal-life/stuck-in-the-mud/  Bookshop https://uk.bookshop.org/books/stuck-in-the-mud-stories-of-hope-for-when-you-re-stuck/9780857219923  Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Stuck-Mud-Stories-Hope-Youre/dp/0857219928/ref=sr_1_4?crid=BMS82KH8EF4V&dchild=1&keywords=stuck+in+the+mud&qid=1610451292&sprefix=stuck+in+the+%2Caps%2C162&sr=8-4
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