I haven't blogged in awhile. Have you noticed? I have come to this exact space to write a new blog for the past week only to leave with nothing written. Thoughts on leadership, a person's capacity to serve, repentance, and fighting the beautiful battle are swirling together in my brain like a brewing storm.
I've been contemplating leadership quite a bit for the past few months. From the time I was a kid in the 4-H club, the idea of being a leader was thrown my way. The adult leaders in our club would often talk to me about leading the other kids or working hard in my projects to set an example. In junior high I began to pursue student council and other activities that required leading. One time a teacher who happened to be one of my mom's good friends pulled me into her room and challenged me with befriending a couple of girls and leading my other friends to do the same. In high school I had the privilege of attending Student Council Camp. Being from a small town, I was star struck with all the "cool city kids" that came from exciting places like Dallas and Austin. The idea of leadership was thrown around that week in songs and skits like candy from floats in a parade.
At the suggestion of my good friend Jamie (who is an exceptional leader), I recently started reading The Making of a Leader by Dr. Robert Clinton. The book is causing me to reflect on my leadership journey. It is exciting to be able to see patterns of growth and stretching through the last 20 years or so. I've been encouraged to be able to pinpoint circumstances, events, and seasons God has used to grow me in leadership. This book is just right for this season of my life because it isn't just challenging me with theories to apply to what I'm doing now or will do in the future, but it is causing me to bite off huge chunks of my life and chew through the gristle-y mistakes, the undercooked naivety, and the nicely seasoned successes of leading God sovereignly served on my plate of life.
The one constant on which I've continued to reflect concerning leading is that through it all, the good, the bad, and the ugly, God's main purpose has been to change me, not use me to change others. His desire is to make me more like Jesus. Period.
In the church Romans 8:28 is often used as a cheer to ease a circumstantial difficulty. "All things work together for the good" is said as sort of a substitute for "Bless your little heart." I'm not trying to be snarky, just truthful. It is absolutely true that God does desire to work all things for our good, but not in the way we may be hoping. "Good" doesn't mean the bills will be paid, the friendship will be salvaged, your dream job will be offered, or the kids will call you the greatest mom in the world. Context is everything.
When we keep reading, it says all things work for the good of those who love him, who are called according to His purpose, to conform us to the likeness of Jesus. The purpose of what we go through in our life is for us to be made into the image of Christ. (Rom 8:28-30)
In applying this passage to the way I've led over the last 15 years of ministry and more than 20 years of random leading opportunities, I've been completely humbled and spent some time in extreme gratitude and definite repentance.
God has allowed me the privilege of leading. I've made mistakes, huge ones, relational mistakes, as well as completely bombing some tasks. Each mistake, whether I realized it at the time or not, gave me the opportunity to choose to rely on myself or on God. Thankfully, He has given me opportunity to succeed, not in a look what I've done sort of way, but in stepping back and being completely humbled by the beautiful symphony of harmonious pleasure that only God could have orchestrated.
As I continue to look back, reflect, and reminisce I pray God will reveal more and more of what he has done to mold me into Jesus' image. In my current leadership responsibilities, I pray that I will never rely on my own strength or will, but be taken to the depth of my guts to know him, be found in him, and to lead with a upright heart and skillful hand so that He is lifted up.
The future is obviously unknown. With each new opportunity God gives, whether to serve quietly in the background, be a supportive active follower, or humbly lead with reliance in Him, I so pray that I will be fully aware of what He desires to teach me, and not just of what I'm doing.
Reflecting on and analyzing my own leadership is extremely challenging. I've reset my mind and heart on growing in the gifts God has given me. I'm praying 2 Peter 1:3-11 for Chad and myself with great fervor. Click on it. Look at the qualities. Read slowly the verse that speaks of possessing these amazing qualities in increasing measure. My hope is that God will build these characteristics in mine and Chad's life and that He will give us the responsibility of leading others to do the same and the privilege of becoming more and more like Jesus.