Being a leader would be great if everyone always liked you and submitted to you humbly and respected every decision you made. Oh and if the group you’re leading always lived in peace with one another. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. We humans are rebellious and typically don’t want anyone else to dictate our lives. We want to be our own leaders…and on top of that we often want everyone else to follow us.
I’ll admit, I’ve had my fair share of issues with authority. I’ve rejected, resisted and rebelled against leaders in my life. I was like that toward my World Race leader. Eventually I was asked to be the leader of our team – it was one of the most humbling experiences in my life. I knew I had absolutely no right being in authority after I had spent so much of my time rebelling against authority. I sobbed the day I became leader for so many reasons – I did not deserve the position I had been given. I was terrified my team would treat me the way I had treated our original leader. Thankfully they were all much more humble and submissive than I had been. What a lesson.
I see my old self in some of my girls. Sometimes I want to shake them and scream LIFE WILL BE SO MUCH SWEETER WHEN YOU STOP REBELLING. But I know if someone had done that to me I would have just rebelled even more. So instead of screaming at them I wait. I allow them to figure it out for themselves – I respect that they are in a process of learning, growing, changing.
That’s some of the best advice I’ve been given. Respect the process. As a leader, a visionary, I can see the goal. I have dreams of where I want my team to go. And I just want to get there already! But getting there isn’t easy. It isn’t instantaneous. On the contrary, it’s slow and strenuous.
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like a failure when things are messy, when my girls are unhappy and want to go home. So many times I’ve wanted to burst into tears as I listen to them complain. Instead I take a deep breath. I choose to believe in their potential rather then be frustrated by their pity party. (Most of the time, anyway.)
When I feel like I’m pulling teeth to get my girls to do something it’s hard not to throw my hands up and say, “FINE! Just do it your way and see how that goes. Have fun getting the whole group to follow you.” I’d love for them to see what it’s like. It’s not always the easiest thing in the world.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about leading, it’s that you cannot be a good leader and a people pleaser. It’s one or the other. During this trip I’ve had to make so many decisions that piss people off. I do it because I know it’s for the best. When I make these decisions I see the irritation on my girl’s faces, I sense it in their spirits. I know they’ve talked about me behind my back. It hurts but I continue to press onward.
Sometimes, however, I don’t want to keep going. When everyone else seems to give up I want to as well. But that is the most important time for me to lead. In The Chronicles of Narnia there’s a quote that’s says, “For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.” I often need to remind myself of that. I mean, not that I’m a king or anything.
It’s nearing the end of our time here and I find myself wanting to check out, to coast during these last few weeks. This morning, however, God reminded me that a war is going on around me and I need to keep fighting – even if I can’t see it and even if I’m tired.
Being a leader is fun at first…and then it gets pretty tough. There’s so much in store: difficult conversations and miscommunication. Finding the balance between being a buddy and being in authority. Not being controlling, but at the same time being in control. Knowing that my team notices every look I make – every disappointed face, every stressed out one. Changing frequently to cater to the dynamic of the group. Not always being included because I’m the leader. Figuring out when to push my girls and when to back away. Always wondering what I can do better. Messing up and having to apologize. Continuing on even when I want to quit. Praying when I don’t want to. Praying some more after that.
I am so, so, so blessed to be leading this group of girls during this time – I wouldn’t have it any other way. Not only do they put up with me, they have taught me so much about life and love along the way. They have helped me become a better version of myself. They’ve made me laugh more than I have in years. And though I hate to admit it, a part of me kind of likes that they are difficult from time to time. If it were always easy I would never grow as a leader. In fact, if they were an easy group they probably wouldn’t even need a leader.
All I know is this is one of the best and hardest seasons of leadership I’ve been in…and I need your prayers to finish strong.