Over the past several months – maybe even more than a year now, God has been working in my heart and mind regarding leadership. I’ve never looked at myself in that type of role. I’ve never been comfortable in teaching positions, even in Sunday school. I’ve also never felt that I had enough knowledge about the Bible to be a leader. I mean, what if someone starts asking really hard questions like, “why do good people suffer?” Gulp…gulp…gulp….panic taking hold…mind blanking out…eyes beginning to burn….face turning red….head exploding…. Really, it’s not a pretty scene.
Sam is a preacher and teacher by nature (not just by profession), and he is amazing at it. He’s dynamic and energetic; he can catch your attention in an instant and draw you into God’s word. He knows how to make the Bible relevant for today, and he always has a touching story to relate that can tie everything together and really make you think. When I think of a Bible study leader, he’s what comes to mind – his style and energy are just awesome. But they are also intimidating to someone like me who is fairly quiet and reserved, and very shy. I know that I don’t have that kind of energy, so how can I ever live up to that standard?
But as my walk with the Lord continues to mature, I have begun to feel the Lord leading me to a place of complete availability and obedience in all things, even in the areas I think I’m most unqualified in. The truth of the matter is, I don’t have to be like Sam – in fact, I think God would prefer it if I weren’t. I’ve realized that not every leader has to be outgoing and loud. They don’t have to get your attention just by standing up and opening their mouths. Sometimes a great leader is someone who’s quiet, who will allow others to talk and share what the Lord is doing in their lives; and sometimes the best leaders are the ones who are just willing to be open and available to what God wants to accomplish. Every style has its place, and God uses all of them in different ways. I shouldn’t try to be like Sam, or Dianne, or Tina, or anyone else for that matter – I just have to be me, and remain available to God.
You know, when God first laid this on my heart, I was a bit obstinate, and I argued with him like Moses did. “God, I’m not qualified to lead a ladies group. I can’t speak to people. I get too flustered and I’m too shy. I’m not leadership material – you’ve seen my work. No one’s going to listen to me. I’m too young.”
Then, after a few more months, I began to soften to the idea and I questioned God. “God, why do you think I can be a leader? What insight into your word can I possibly offer to these women? Where do you see leadership qualities in me?”
And finally, these past few months, I’ve begun to understand the concept of submission to God. “Lord, if you want me to lead, I’m going to trust you. I know you’re in control, so use me in the ways you see fit. Give me your words, your thoughts, your insights. I am yours, use me as you will.“
Several weeks back our regular study group facilitator informed us that she was going to be out of town on vacation for three weeks in a row, and she was wondering if anyone in the group would like to volunteer to lead the sessions while she was away. The room was dead silent for nearly a minute, you could feel people instantly look at the floor and hope that she wouldn’t call anyone by name; and I could feel the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart – encouraging me to step up and follow God’s calling.
Today, I led my first Bible study group, and I want you to know that I’ve been truly blessed by the experience. I found myself gaining wisdom and understanding just by listening to the other women talk about the insights they have gained from the scriptures we were studying. There were many thanks and words of encouragement and approval afterward, which was nice to hear; but I walked away from the group with one profound realization, and that was: God wants me to operate in a deficit position so that I have to fully rely on his wisdom and strength and grace to step out of the boat and onto the water. And if I do that, I will be blessed beyond what I can ever imagine.
“Gracious and awesome Heavenly Father, thank you for calling me out onto the water with you. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in a way that is new and fresh, and for giving me a willing heart. Help me to remember that I can do nothing without you, and all things through you. Help me to remain focused on availability and obedience in all things. I ask these things in your precious and holy name, amen.”