If you’re completely confident in how you lead and know without a doubt that you were made for this, you should be writing this blog post. Unfortunately, I’m the one writing… so this probably isn’t going to help you.
The rest of you, welcome to the party. If we were meeting up at a coffee shop, I’d grab you the ottoman or another chair so you could put your feet up because I know you probably just need to take a load off. So for the next few minutes, I invite you to do that.
Journey. It’s a deliciously inviting word, but it has hints of “lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!”, doesn’t it? Journey means something will be uncovered or brought to light… That there will be a destination- something new.
Here’s what I think I’m coming to terms with about my leadership journey:
What I’m discovering is that the something new I am uncovering… is me.
I know this sounds so silly at first, or even prideful or self-focused, but stick with me.
Perhaps you’ve experienced something similar to this, but maybe you worked with a person (or had a parent or friend) that said something that marked you in a way you didn’t fully realize in the moment. It seeped in over time, replaying in odd moments in your memory, and dripped into your way of thinking about yourself and what you were made for.
Perhaps you had a strong desire to grow, to be a “better leader,” to really make significant impacts on the world and people around you, to have your contributions be accepted by the leadership of the place you serve…. So you got to work… reading, learning, listening, and taking in all the Ted Talks and best-sellers you could handle. Only to realize that the picture of leadership you were learning about and that was being praised felt like a bad pair of jeans on you. It was tight and loose in all the wrong places.
Perhaps you’ve always been a bit of an odd duck. You’re not quite on the same journey as your peers, or you think or process things uniquely from the rest of the people you serve with. Maybe you’re young and on an older team, maybe you’re older and serving on a younger team. Maybe you’re a woman on a mostly male team, or vice versa. Even more than demographics, maybe you’re recognizing your personality and strengths are so unique that you’re not sure how to fit on your team. So much so, that you’re wondering if something is just wrong with you.
Friend, I’ve been there. All three of those paragraphs are microcosms of portions of my leadership story. Here’s a piece of truth: I’m still discovering what the learnings are from some of those situations; but, I am discovering that what has always been true about my leadership journey to this point is that God is doing a new thing and He’s working it out in me.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned, and I’m trying to let them seep into the deepest places of my being. I hope that they give you space to reflect on your own journey in new ways:
- In every way, the One Who made me is the only One Who gets to name me. (Isaiah 43:1, Psalm 139)
- Regardless of age, shepherding/leadership is a gift I am entrusted with; to neglect it OR to attempt to fashion it into something I deem respectable enough is to waste something supernatural. (1 Timothy 4:12-16, 2 Corinthians 5, 2 Corinthians 12)
- Value comes from Whose I am, not what I do/accomplish.
- Leadership is lonely- I need the people in my life who will ask and have been given freedom by me to dig into how things really are.
- My personality (or flavor) is a reflection of my Creator. To leave it out of my leadership ends up being awkward for everybody. In fact, embracing it gives those around me the freedom to bring all of themselves to the table
- Real joy is never simple or easy; it’s fruit from seeing that God keeps His promises and learning (through hard things) that He can be trusted. It’s ok to lead with joy- even if people misconstrue it for naivety. Leading with joy is an act of worship, so it’s about God anyway.
- Saying yes to keep everyone happy is more about my need to avoid other’s displeasure than it is about actually loving them well. No can be just as loving as yes.
- Fear and doubt are liars, and God’s plans rarely make sense. Leave fear and doubt where they belong, and keep moving forward confidently into your calling.
- True leadership brings about newness, and God is doing a new thing in me each day on my leadership journey.
Friend, these are all things I need to repeat to myself daily. I’m not sure where this found you today. Maybe you’re more confident than ever in your calling, or maybe fear and doubt have been nipping at you since you stepped foot out of bed this morning. Regardless, I am praying that you go forward from this moment allowing truth to be louder than lies. Knowing you’re journey has a beautiful point- your newness… your ever growing reflection of the One Who calls you beloved. And that stunning reflection brings Him lasting glory!
Cheering you on- always.