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To Lead or Not to Lead, That Is the Question (Part 1)

My husband and I were recently asked to speak at some meetings for our church’s building project. Our Pastor is encouraging our members to pray about and consider what they can give to our new building campaign. We are telling “Our Story.” It is long but we have condensed it to fifteen minutes … preferably ten. The story is about where we were and where we are at now and the role Sandals Church has played in our transformation. I won’t go into detail but we were in a bad place, God through Sandals changed everything and now we are in a good place, the end. I even cried at the last one. I never cry but as Oscar the Shark Slayer would say, “It was emotional and there was pressure.” (Shark Tale, one of my favorite kid movies of all time)

My issue is and always has been my “role” in the church. My husband is a leader and a mentor. He is brilliant and poised and can articulate himself flawlessly. Me, not so much. I absolutely fight any notion that I can lead or even want to, for that matter. I work for my church and serve in my ministry but I am at the point in my journey where I want a change. I want to do “other things” and I believe God is on board. The problem, as far as I’m concerned, is that those “things” are still pushing me to lead. This is a problem because “it’s” all about me, right? I would prefer to sit in the back row of life and take notes, do what I’m told and not step on any toes. God is nudging me elsewhere.

My struggle is that I just don’t fit into the “mold” given for want a great leader is. In a Relational Development Leadership group I participated in we read Oswald Chambers Spiritual Leadership. My thoughts then are the same as now. In Chapter Five, there is a test. It requires you to rank your leadership potential based on a list of qualifications. I took the test. It was depressing. Out of the twenty-two qualities with 110 possible points (ranking five as best) I scored a fifty-five. Fifty percent. 50 percent is a failing grade in most schools, and I think I was being generous on the questions that ranked what I thought others thought of me.

Chambers states, “The world is imperfect and we cannot expect the impossible”. Passing this test seems impossible. I know me. I screw up. You don’t have to say it, I get it–God uses the most unlikely–you can’t be ambitious to lead–look at where Paul was when he was called–God chose one of the most aggressive opponents of the Christian movement to become the “world’s most successful Christian”… blah, blah, blah. I am not an opponent of Christianity but I am pretty opposed to myself in anything labeled a “role,” especially leading others. 1 Timothy 3:1 states, “If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task”. Great. What about those that don’t desire it? 1 Timothy 3: 2-7 goes on to list the attributes of said overseer. It seems so unattainable. The qualifications include such intimidating concepts as “above reproach” and “blameless” and big words that I had to google like “irenic” and “avarice.” My head wants to explode—not from the big words but from thinking too much about all of this. I’m waiting for God to turn His trucker hat to the side and tell me I just got punked. We’ll all laugh at how He “got me” and I can go back to my safe lifestyle of no great expectations, alone time and caller ID.

So where is the hope? Hope comes to me in Chapter 6 of Spiritual Leadership, not in the painfully detailed list of qualifications but with words “then” and “when.” “Then you will …” and “When you are ready…” I have been so worried that I do not possess a single prerequisite needed or that I qualify for leadership right now. My hope comes from the line “ reputation of a great leader grows with the years.” Becoming a great leader is a process of growth and refinement. I just happen to need it more than others. Growth takes time and I need to be patient. But when I do attain the qualities necessary and I am able to be blameless and above reproach, it will be so much more of a testament to God than if I naturally possessed them, right? Where I am at now is what will make my being “there” so powerful

So what are the “other things,” you ask? It’s coming. Stay tuned.