Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One Year in Aggieland: Leadership & Discipleship


Sunday December 18th marked our one year anniversary of being here in College Station!  You can read James' post about how we got here on his blog, here.  Reaching this milestone has made me a bit reflective on what it has meant for us so far, being one year in to living our church-planting dream.  Over this last two weeks, I'm blogging about some of the lessons we've learned and the ways that we've grown during our time here.  God is (as always) on the move, and I want to document some of what He's done and is doing in our lives.

Today I want to talk about what I've learned about leadership, and kind of as a sub-category, discipleship.  And of the people who read my blog, some of them have discipled me, some of them I have discipled in the past, others I currently disciple, and plenty of others are friends or family in lots of other capacities.  What a funny and diverse audience to read my thoughts about this!  :)

So, leadership: You NEVER feel ready!  :)  In our first several years at Antioch, I'd look at the pastoral staff or the church planting teams and think, "Wow, they have really arrived!  They must have it all together, to be leading that or living there, etc."  Now I read that last sentence and laugh.  As we started stepping into leadership, first in Waco and then here in College Station, I realized something-I may have grown and changed some, but I'm still ME!  I have my same issues and tendencies and weaknesses and fears and being given a certain title or role doesn't make those things go away!  What?  Join training school staff while I still struggle with effectively sharing the gospel?  What?  Start a new training school while figuring out HOW to spend quality time with Jesus with a baby in the house?  What?  Lead the family section of lifegroups when we still forget to plan lifegroup until an hour before it starts?  Who is in charge here?  Oh, yeah...God.  :)  My mom likes to remind me of the saying, "He doesn't call the qualified, He qualifies the called."  It's true.  I think I need to extend that to say that He doesn't always even qualify you when He calls you, He just chooses to use you anyway, in spite of all the places you mess up!  :)  So I know this may come as a real shock to some of you, but while we may be in leadership, we don't have everything all figured out.  We still struggle with our flesh, we still have to apologize for things we say or do, we still have SO much room to grow and learn.  But God is faithful and sovereign and uses us anyway.  It's so encouraging and FUN to get to be a part of how God is moving!!!

Another thing about leadership (this may feel redundant, but I'm going a different direction): You are the SAME person you were before!  In the Matrix movie, if you needed to learn a new skill, you essentially could plug yourself in to a computer and download the skill.  Suddenly you know karate or can fly a helicopter!  I wish there were something like that for leadership, but the truth is, you don't change when someone promotes you or gives you a title.  When you are put in charge or something new, you don't automatically know how to do it, but you have to move forward because you're in charge!  As you move forward, you learn.  You may have to adjust your course, make some changes, etc, but you have to do it as you're moving.  It's funny then when people tell you how great is was and you're just thinking, "I'm SO glad it worked!"  This is very similar to teaching, where students (or parents) ask you questions.  You answer them the best you can, of course, but if you're just starting out, your answers come from what you've heard from other people, or what you read on the internet.  But those students or parents trust you because you're the teacher, so they do what you say, and it works!  What a relief!

Discipleship has also been a learning experience for me.  Obviously, this isn't new this year, but I've grown a lot this year, and a big part of that has been learning to speak with authority.  I have long had this mistaken idea that to be loving, I need to be really gentle in how I speak.  Even if someone is doing something wrong or stupid, I think I need to be really polite and timid as I address it.  "Oh, you don't think you need to wear a seatbelt?  Interesting.  Well, in my experience, it's been helpful.  Plus you might want to avoid getting a ticket.  Plus it could maybe save your life, I mean, I hope you're never in that situation, but still...maybe you should think about it?"  That's not a challenge!  I'm realizing that when I disciple someone, it's because in some area I'm ahead of them.  Maybe I've just lived longer than they have, maybe I've just had more training than they have.  Maybe I've been a mom longer or been married longer or something.  I have definitely learned through the experiences that I've had and I DO have something to offer, something to pass on to people.  I don't need to apologize for lessons learned.  The kindest thing for me to do is to tell them!  So I'm growing in speaking truth without apologizing for it, and hopefully that's benefiting the people around me! 

That's just my thoughts about leadership.  There's more I could say, but those are the big ones, and guess what?  They probably apply to anyone reading this!  ;)

Other posts in this series:
One Year in Aggieland: Living on Support
One Year in Aggieland: Changes

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