Leadership has been a hot topic for me lately. I just spent two weeks in classes for my doctorate degree discussing this very thing—what makes a good leader? Who am I as a leader? So when Mrs. Disciple announced this week’s topic—Leadership—I had to jump in.
I want to honor those who have been leaders for me. The people who have shaped me into the person I am. Particularly, those who have made me into the person of faith I am. I pray there are people in your life like this. So here they are:
My first pastor. Where would I be without this man? He raised the daughter who led me to the Lord. His family welcomed me in and then displayed love for one another in ways I had not imagined. What was this craziness I had walked into? It was Jesus, of course.
Pastor Robertson taught me through his kind candor that being honest with people was the kindest and most just thing we can do.
Then he still let me sing in church and record music for their cable show, and it was probably completely awful, but he kindly did not tell me so and just let me keep trying to figure out how to be me in this brave new world of Christianity. Sometimes, honesty takes a back seat to encouragement. He had that balance mastered.
When I said I wanted to be a pastor, he took me to lunch, told me I couldn’t be ordained in that denomination, and then told me that I could be a missionary and do the exact same job. He said he knew it was hypocritical and he was sorry. I never forgot his willingness to admit that, yet love his church devotedly despite any flaws. It has served me well while trying to navigate a Church in general that has its share of horrible blemishes and scars but is still beloved by Him. I had gentle greatness in a first pastor, and it has led me well.
Gerry and Sharie Chappeau
My InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff members. I came to a very not Christian college wet behind the ears in my faith. I had no idea what I had done when I (figuratively) walked that aisle a year before. That place could have torn me apart. So could the shattered family life I had left at home. But these two didn’t let that happen.
They had unspeakable faith through tough circumstances. They put countless hours and tears into college students, who didn’t always return that devotion well. They modeled sacrifice and mission before it was the hot new relevant thing. They adopted and fostered kids before it was cool, in their tiny home in a not-great neighborhood. They were Jesus with skin on.
I wanted to be like them when I grew up. I hope I am.
My theology professor in seminary. A man who taught us the intricacies of eschatology and ecclesiology and soteriology but still made it clear that if you didn’t want to love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind, it wasn’t worth the money we spent on books.
He told us that “You are as holy as you want to be.” It stuck. Just one sentence, but I have never been able to escape its truth. We choose.
We bonded as practically the only two Arminians in the place. We went to his house for a Bible study that did not take any prisoners. He chose a life of giving, even as his own life wavered because of a badly needed heart transplant. I learned what it means to truly devote yourself to ministry from Bob, and to find your greatest joy in it.
The first pastor I was an associate to. No one would have looked at Ken as a leader. He was quiet, mild, thoughtful, and he led a tiny church in the city. In point of fact, no one would peg most of these people as great leaders. That’s the secret of greatness—it doesn’t have to show, it just has to do. And Ken did.
He released me to do whatever I was gifted to do. He encouraged me to follow my passions in ministry. He never once got defensive or jealous of the things that were “his” as pastor of the church but offered it all as my place to grow. He saw my gifts and called them out. Ken had the humility I aspire to. Is it oxymoronic to aspire to humility? I don’t care. He was my leader.
Is this weird? I don’t think so. We should always be willing to be led by the next generation. I have learned some of my best lesson from these three. They have been my best cheerleaders as I tackle new things in life.
I have seen older people who refuse to learn new things, who hide behind, “Oh I couldn’t do that,” or “What use is that to me?” I don’t ever want to be that person.I never want to be that person who refuses to listen to new thoughts or give way to new ideas. I want to always learn, and my kids both lead the way and encourage me.
My kids have taught me how to treat people who hold worldviews different than mine with compassion and interest. They’ve shown me how to jump in and take chances. They’ve encouraged me in being unapologetically feminist, in the best sense of the word. They keep me guessing, and they keep me thinking.
Plus, they’ve taught me how not to wear mom jeans. And other embarrassing clothing. For this, I am grateful.
There are a great bunch of other ideas about leadership in the link up. Visit them here–especially Kelly’s fun take on moms as leaders!