I spent a lot of time over the last year, now that I’m writing from home, asking the question, “Am I a leader or not a leader?”
I don’t fit the profile. I don’t have the energy or drive that some leaders do. And I love being a wife and a mom… I am an ordained pastor and hope-to-be-published-writer, but is that the same thing as being a leader when I’m not working in a church? I don’t even know that I want a leadership position… Either way, there’s a lot of responsibility and sacrifice involved!
Still, there’s something about it I can never seem to shake.
Here’s what I’ve decided.
First of all, I am me. Whether I’m leading or not leading, there is a certain gifts/talents/personality/character mix that is the thing I am stuck with, the thing I have to steward. Whatever I might have to offer the world, I have to start here, with what I’ve got in my own person. (A lot of growth happens from there, but you start with a good solid sense of who you are and where you’re at!)
ACCEPTING MY PERSON
Acceptance has been key for me. I have lived long enough now, to recognize those things I cannot change about myself. For example, I’ve hated my own introverted nature. I had determined it was a liability and something that needed to change. I couldn’t accept it. Also, I’ve wanted to be more of a “doer” than I naturally am. I thrive with A LOT of thinking, praying, and writing time… This is not always practical, especially when it comes to the needs of others around me! I’ve wanted to change these things about myself, to better suit our culture that epitomizes the mantra of “Go!” and “Do!”
God has termed this year “The Year of Acceptance” for me (maybe more on that in another blog). I am embracing myself in a new way, not like, “Well this is just who I am. Deal with it!” But like, “This is who I am. This is what I have to work with right now. These are my strengths. These are my weaknesses. I’m a work in progress, but generally happy about myself. I’m ready to offer what I have… Now, where do I go from here?”
ACCEPTANCE isn’t about accepting the sin or brokenness in your life that you are not meant to carry or manifest, but it is about accepting an honest perspective of who you are, and the truth about who you are created to be.
The truth is, as a new creation in Christ Jesus my Lord, I belong to God! And am: 1) called to produce, and 2) created with influence.
CALLED TO PRODUCE – (Accepting my calling to invest what I am and have to bear much fruit to the glory of God.)
I read my Bible. I’ve been through it, around it, in it and back again a number of times. And there is no way I can read it and question whether or not I am supposed to increase something, produce something, add value in some way as a child of God…
The truth is, I know what it’s like to be needy. I know what it’s like to be so full of toxic thoughts and feelings, or just plain stress, when the value does not seem to go up when you add me to the equation! But when a life is lived in God, it is supposed to add value… God has made his home with you, and He’s there in the equation, even in the mess.
The Bible talks about “bearing fruit,” that the life lived in God, will bear fruit. It will multiply and produce that which is good and lasting, all to the glory of God the Father. I’ve learned that when we engage the dark seasons with God, He is at work to bear fruit even there, it just looks different. Those are the seasons of planting, pruning, and nurturing those kingdom seeds that are germinating deep in dark soil…
I believe it is possible and necessary for God’s people to move through their dark seasons, working through their inner pain, in order to experience some real, tangible level of freedom. Freedom is found where the Spirit of the Lord is (2 Corinthians 3:17), and our dark seasons often help to cut away those things we otherwise hold on to, making room for more of God’s Spirit, and more freedom, in our lives.
Being filled with the Spirit of God is part of our healing and growth, and is NECESSARY if we are going to be a people of God who produce that which is good and life-giving to others!
It took me years to work through a lot of inner pain, (and I think I can boldly say that there was fruit even there, even in the process…). I am just now entering a time of life where fruitfulness seems more possible. My insides are more light, clean, free, and whole… which seems to really impact the way I can steward God’s presence and Spirit in order to bear fruit and add Kingdom value to the world around me, starting in my own home. Engaging with God in the dark seasons, even in the darkest places of pain, bitterness, grief, despair, set me up for a big harvest. I think this is true for every one of us! It is the pruning principle of John 15:2, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.“
- What season are you in? Are you being pruned, or in a season of obvious fruitfulness?
- Have you accepted an honest perspective of who you are and what you have to offer?
- Where is God leading you to add value and produce goodness?
- Is God asking you to engage in some darker places of inner pain, in order to reveal new seeds of life germinating there in the soil – that when nurtured by His presence, will bring forth a harvest for his glory?
- Do you need to acknowledge that you’re soul is so full of pain, toxicity, anger, etc that God’s spirit can not bear fruit through you the way He would desire?
- What do you need to NOT do, so you can heal, focus, and bear fruit?
CREATED WITH INFLUENCE – (Accepting the responsibility to steward the presence of God in my life)
As a human being, I influence the people around me. When I speak, move, act, and behave, the people around me are being impacted. We are connected and therefore impact one another at some level.
But if you have said YES to Jesus and have become a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), having been sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) and now carrying around a heavenly inheritance in your very being… If you have the Spirit of Sovereign God, King of Kings, Creator of the Universe, Great I AM, and victorious Jesus living inside of you, “the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead” (Romans 8:11), handing you the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:19)… Then, you have INFLUENCE!
Even though I have accepted my introverted nature, I have also accepted the call to bear fruit, and the influence I am responsible to steward. I’ve had to realize that, I may be introverted, but God’s Spirit within me is very EXTROVERTED. He is constantly reaching upward to glorify the Father and reaching outward to bless and minister to the broken world around me. So whether I like it or not, as a new creation in Christ who is alive to the Spirit of God living within me, I have influence to steward. The very presence of the Living God is trying to bless the world through me, trying to lead the world through me, which makes me, and you, in some sense, a leader.
- Are you aware of God’s Spirit living inside you?
- Have you learned to keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25)?
- What does it mean to steward the influence that is naturally present because of God’s presence and power at work in you?
- How can you grow as a pure vessel that allows God to lead through him/her?
Servanthood has become another key word for me so far this year… On the heels of asking, “Am I leader?” the question arises, “Then what does it mean to serve?” Because leading is serving. Stewarding God’s presence and investing our personal “mix,” is done through surrender, servanthood, obedience…
Moment of brutal honesty… I hate the thought of leadership when I see people running around reacting to a hundred needs, whenever and wherever they pop up. Is this what it means to lead? Is this what it means to serve? To run around doing everything so that everyone burns out in a big heap of ineffectiveness?
God has been showing me a kind of servanthood that has more to do with knowing His voice, being focused, steady and self-disciplined… A servant doesn’t create his own agenda; he follows instruction. A good servant doesn’t generate his own independent ideas; he adopts the mindset of His master. A faithful servant works very hard, but purposefully; he operates within his role, fulfilling the purpose for which he was called.
So am I a leader? Unavoidably, yes, and so are you! You and I both need to get free, be filled with the Spirit of God, bear fruit, and steward the influence that comes from having power Himself living inside of us. He wants to make such a bigger impact on this world, but we have to be vessels he can use… And it starts with exactly who you are and what you have available in your own person, and right there in your own home.
I don’t know if I’ll have a positional leadership role again in the future, but I am very happy to learn leadership/servanthood in this season in my own home. I am happy to walk according to God’s voice and see how he wants to move through me at the grocery store, in my parenting, in my marriage, and in larger settings as well. I’m happy to accept who I am and where I’m at, along with the responsibility that comes with being a daughter of the King. I want to be faithful…
When I was younger, more “fresh,” I used to want to change the world. Now I just want to know His voice. I just want to be faithful as the one member I am of this amazing body that is the body of Christ. I want the honest reality of who I am to belong to Him, and I want every minute of my everyday to be open to stewarding His presence – letting him lead and impact the world through me and around me whether it’s speaking in front of large crowds or doing my dishes…
I think this is the best kind of leadership we can learn.