Wrote this post for my church in preparation for Leadership Ascent which is “2-day event is designed to help us identify our unique Kingdom stories and to be equipped in living them out as part of God’s greater narrative.” (taken from RH website). If you are in the area, it would be awesome for you to attend! More details on ticket info here.
If you ask my mom or my dad, they will tell you I came out of the womb bossing people around. Some of my earliest memories include my cousin, best friend and I playing school–and of course I insisted on being the teacher.
In 4th grade, I won our class election for President, and had never been happier. It was a true delight to stay after with my teacher and talk about class events, policies and such. My classmates thought I was a huge nerd, but I did not care in the least. I was a part of ASB or some sort of student government during the entirety of high school and college, and can’t remember a time when I wasn’t leading some sort of team at church.
I guess you could say that leadership is in my blood. I even dreamed of one day being in the United Nations and leading big meetings about global politics. Fast-paced, loud, chaotic–it was like a dream to me.
Over the years, I have learned countless things about myself through being in positions of leadership, but it wasn’t until the past few years that I have shifted my perspective on what being a leader truly means.
Leadership is not about being in charge. It’s not about being the center of attention or talking above everyone else. It’s not about having the best ideas or even being able to articulate everything perfectly.
Leadership is about serving others. It’s about caring enough about a person to develop them and challenge them and push them in love. It’s about seeing another person’s gifts and talents and encouraging them to grow in them above anything else.
Somewhere in my upbringing I got trapped in the mindset that being a leader meant I had to be domineering. Loud. Forceful. Pushy. I had the reputation for being the “girl who could get things done” but I learned that people were growing tired of my overbearing personality. Sure, I enjoyed the compliments I was always getting and the recognition that came with each of my prestigious positions, but was that worth being someone that people truly didn’t like? My junior year of college provided me with a big realization that if I wanted to continue being a leader, something had to change. At this point, I was OK with that, I was willing to do anything to be better liked and well-received.
I just had no idea how hard this process would be…
The more and more that I grew in my relationship with Christ, the more and more unsettled I became about the way that I was leading things. I couldn’t help but think that Christ would have led others differently–in love not force. After some investigation, I confirmed my own hypothesis. If Christ was anything as a leader, it was humble. But his abundance of humility did not result in the diminishing of his confidence.
That’s one of the most valuable things I’ve learned over the years: confidence is not the opposite of humility. C.S. Lewis has this great quote that I have written on various papers around my room:
“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking about yourself less.”
It’s easy for leaders to swing to one side of the pendulum and become expectant of praise, thriving on every compliment and recognition. But it’s another dangerous temptation to become a person with low self-esteem and little confidence. As leaders, we have to recognize that God has blessed us with talents and wants us to be secure in those blessings.
So I’ve come to learn that being humble does not mean that you can’t take on responsibility above others or praise that comes with success–rather it means that your heart has to be focused on serving above anything else. At the end of the day, I care more about the people that I have served and their accomplishments above my own. But it certainly has not always been that way, and I am thankful for this evidence of growth.
Leadership (especially in the context of the church!) is something that is so tricky, but so necessary. God has equipped his people to step up and live to their full potential further his kingdom. I’ve learned that being a leader is a beautiful part that I get to play–and the more I can understand that it’s not about me in any way–the better leader I will be.