notes from a reluctant but willing leader

Posted: May 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

Somewhere around 2003 I took an extensive, detailed spiritual gifts survey, interested to measure what my strengths might be and point myself in an appropriate direction.  At that time, my big gift (this one never changes, no matter how many times I take that kind of survey) was teaching (perhaps that’s why some of my earliest school memories are of watching the teacher and thinking they don’t understand you because you’re saying it this way instead of that way).  My next highest gift (that one changes over the years) was prophecy.

The material that came with the survey for follow-up made an interesting and strongly worded point about the combination of those two gifts.  If you have teaching and prophecy gifts together, it said, people will suppose you are gifted for leadership.  This is not the case, and you should push back when people try to corral you into leadership positions.

In the year or so before I took that survey, I had been elevated in my church to the position of head deaconess, though I was the youngest deaconess of all.  It wasn’t a position I had sought, and I hadn’t felt qualified to lead, but one thing my parents taught me well is that when something needs done, you step up and do it – you don’t wait for the mythical “someone else” to materialize.  People asked, so I took the role, giving it the best I knew how to do at the time.  Shortly thereafter, some hard things happened in that church and I left in a blaze of inglorious self-righteousness, only to figure out years later that the mess at the church wasn’t the only problem – there was also ME.

Since then, leadership has hunted me down and found me time after time, even when I’ve tried to hide from it, even when I’ve tried to dodge it.  It’s not something I want – I think of myself as a worker bee and generally tend to feel like the least qualified person in the room for the leadership role.  I like to HELP the leaders.  I want to SUPPORT them.  I totally get into PRAYING for them.  I am big on LOYALTY to the leaders that I know.  When I am leading, on the other hand, I mostly feel kind of naked and awkward.

But the simple fact is, someone’s gotta do the stuff, and most people practice Nancy Reagan’s mantra when asked to take on a leadership role:  “Just Say No!”  Too busy, not qualified, don’t like people, yadda yadda yadda.  And then mixed into that mess there are the types who are dying to be in charge, to get to boss others around, to stand tall and proud at the helm and bask in glory, and for sure THEY want to be leaders, but of course they for sure should not, since they are more despots-in-waiting than true leaders.

So in the mix of all that, I lead.  Not because I want to or am self-aggrandizing enough to think that I have some sort of special awesomeness.  More often than not, I am a hot mess.  And all these years since that first survey, I have heard that warning ringing over and over in my head.  I am not gifted for leadership.  But the stuff needs done, and so I offer my willingness and my best efforts – my job is to honor Christ by doing that much.  Results are God’s business.

Somewhere out there is a pool of potential leaders, folks with the gift who are sitting on it.  I don’t know where you are or who you are, but I’m saying:  if you’d press into your willingness, you could show us all how it’s done.  If that is making you squirm, I’m praying for you.  Praying for deep discomfort to plague you until you step into the role God created you to take on.  We need you.  I’ll do every leadership task I’m asked to take on for as long as it takes – someone has to do the stuff – but you’re the ones who could take us to a whole other level.  Where are you hiding?  Come on out now.  It’s worth the effort.

I promise.


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