Who Needs Experience to be a Leader?

photoA few years ago I had the privilege of being part of a seminar entitled “Spiritual Leadership” with Henry Blackaby, who wrote the best-selling Bible study Experiencing God. We were gathered as leaders to explore the topic, “What Does a Spiritual Leader Look Like?” Simply stated Blackaby said, Spiritual leaders move people onto God’s agenda.  Read that phrase again and let it sink in. I know I wrote it down at the time and have never forgotten the force of those words.

I might add that nothing is more important than true spiritual leadership. It is even more important than experience or what we think experience should be! Can you hear what I am getting at?

It’s okay to feel like you don’t have enough experience.

God knows,

He made you,

He understands,

He gets it that you need Him more than you need your experience.

Blackaby went on to say that Christian leaders who know God and who know how to lead in a Christian manner will be phenomenally more effective in their world than even the most skilled and qualified leaders who lead without God.

There have been many times throughout the years that I have struggled with my own lack of qualifications, I never had the opportunity to graduate from college or seminary, but God has affirmed me over and over again as I have submitted to him in obedience that He is the one who calls a leader and desires to do extraordinary things through a willing heart.  It has only been the past few years that I have had the opportunity to go back to school. I just recently in 2012 graduated with a Master’s in Leadership. Yahoo! But let me tell you, I felt old going back after nearly 30 years. But it was God’s timing complementing this leadership season in my life and my window that God definitely planned.

As men and women called to lead, we are leading others prayerfully to discover their window of opportunity that God wants them to see. We help them to unlock their God-given dreams and gently pushing them to take a step. Living and operating under true spiritual leadership is essential for our maximum effectiveness.

One of the greatest temptations that we will face as leaders is to lead in our own strength.  How do we stay guarded and alert to this temptation? It is making sure that we make time practice the principle of regularly examining our own hearts and lives.

Holiness is more important than experience. When we focus on God we will move people onto God’s agenda and not our own.

(An excerpt from Cynthia Cavanaugh’s book, Unlocked: 5 Myths Holding Your Influence Captive 2013 New Hope Publishers)

 

A Rejected Valentine

His name was Richard, he had strawberry blonde red hair and freckles and I was madly in love. I was 8 years old and experienced my first broken heart on Valentine’s Day in the third grade. I made a special paper Valentine just for him and he promptly told me he wasn’t interested and that girls were yucky! Those weren’t the exact words, but that is the memory I carry of my little heart being shattered. It didn’t matter that I received 24 other Valentines from my classmates, the one I gave to the one I loved was thrown back and rejected.

I have to tell you the backstory, I don’t really blame Richard, because I was demanding that he choose me, like me, be my friend. I had cornered him on the playground and smothered him with kisses as he screamed for the playground teacher to come rescue him. She promptly ran over and told me that it was no way for a young lady to act with a boy. In my eight year old mind, I was uninhibited and I just had to let Richard know that I was in love with him and expected him to return the affection. Well he didn’t, and I traumatized him probably for the rest of his elementary school years.

I think that is where it all started for me, the people pleasing, wanting desperately to be understood as the little girl grew up to be an adult. It isn’t that I wasn’t loved well, I truly was, but I was a passionate person who loved life and everything in it and I don’t believe that era knew what to do with passionate people.  Little girls who had great passion were somehow made to believe that they needed to calm down, be more cautious and for crying out loud just get control of yourself. Those were the messages I received, well intentioned but yet no one showed me how to really navigate the great surges of passion that would overtake me when I felt strongly and wanted to make a difference. And so I kept it inside, tucked away quietly, neat and tidy and spoke of it at times in whispers with close friends I trusted. I fell into the rhythm that my beliefs and thoughts should remain neutral and so I did whatever it took to not make waves, sometimes even going against my own heart. Little by little my heart stopped speaking because I stopped listening. The saddest thing about that is, I believed it was the most spiritual path because those were the thread of messages woven in the Christian Culture I experienced. So I threw myself into music and drama for several seasons because those were the places it was safe to express what I was feeling and seemingly acceptable to others.

I have come to embrace that God created me to be a passionate person and I might just have a little bit more than some people are comfortable with. I’ve wrestled this out and come to believe that it’s actually wrong to deny who God made me. When I step back, people please and cover the voice of my heart, I am inauthentic, I’ve lost my voice, and rejected the path of influence I can carry to my world.

I believe that is what the writer in Proverbs is saying,

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” (Proverbs 4:23).

Be authentic.

Listen.

Observe.

Be aware.

I haven’t been very good at guarding my heart, I’ve let others talk me out of it instead of listening to God’s still small voice. But I am learning, my heart is awake and beginning to breathe again as I ask God to guide me in what it means to guard my heart. I am still figuring it out, and since it is Valentine’s Day I am reminded that my heart resides with God and he knows exactly what to do with my passionate thoughts and pursuits.

I am grateful.

I am content.

I am loved intensely by the God of the Universe and it is more than amazing.

Happy Valentine’s Day…

(image from www.thecraftycrow.net)