I remember wanting to be a leader… in school, at church, in life when I was a high school student. I never succeeded in being a leader at school. I was just part of a pack. I was not a popular kid, just a regular everyday school student with very decent grades. Thinking back on it, I didn’t try hard to lead… what was there to lead? What did I want to lead?
Later on, in my young adult life, I realized I wanted to lead people to God. I wanted to be a leader. I wanted to be the go-to for people’s needs so I can direct them to God. I wanted to be looked up to and admired for my work because I was letting God shine. So, I prayed. I prayed for God to use me. I told Him I was ready to battle for Him and bring honor to His name. Lord, please use me!
And He did!
I was selected to be the sabbath director. I was so excited and spent many days preparing for when I take over the position.
Prior to taking over this position, I taught students after school and with that experience, I thought to bring it to Saturday School (like Sunday School, but we had church on Saturday so instead it was called Saturday School).
When I implemented this strategy with Saturday School. It worked great and the classes were flourishing. I received compliments from one of the teachers for implementing a new learning style and how it better runs than before. I was truly happy and grateful.
But I made a decision that caused me to fail God.
Half a year into the position, I started to see that funds were not being allocated to the Sabbath School department. The reason was that there weren’t much funds left… and yet, I saw the church funds going into church parties and events. I was upset.
Every church member agreed that teaching the younger generation will build our strength and future. I agreed with that… and yet, I realized it was just all words to them seeing as they did not put money where their words were. I used my personal income from my day job to purchase rewards, school supplies, and snacks for the kids. It continued for a while.
I was getting less and less happy with the church for their lack of support. And one day, enough was just enough. I received no support and the words “doing this for God and the children” became just a small reason to keep going. I was miserable. I didn’t get to go to the chapel and listen to the word during service. My tank was not being filled. I was not getting the Word in a community, studying the bible on my own was getting tedious. I had no fellowship. My strength was weakening.
My weekdays were spent working a fulltime job, my evenings spent planning for Sabbath School and shopping for supplies and snacks, then at church all day long on Saturday, then Sunday is prep day for my work week. I felt there wasn’t time to do anything… no time for myself. I was exhausted.
When I approached the chairman with my decision to quit and focus on connecting with God again, his response was “just keep going, you’ll receive a blessing.” I felt like he did not listen to what I was saying. I needed to connect with God! I responded and said I was not fit for the position because I felt far from God. His second response was, “you can’t quit. I will have a meeting with the board first to decide whether you can quit.”
That sent me over the edge. I didn’t talk to him and let him walked away. I felt like no matter what I said, I would not get through to him and have a good ending. So, I handed my Sabbath School materials to the secretary and told him that I quit and asked him to give the materials to the chairman.
A few weeks after, I stopped attending the church altogether. There were whispers and side comments being made about my resignation and my character. I was not looking for that kind of community.
How is this a failure when I was seeking only to have a connection with God and a supportive church community?
There are many reasons why I failed (and I’m sure you can guess some of them based off of what I wrote earlier) but here are a few of the reasons:
- I didn’t explicitly ask for help from others
- I didn’t pray
- I didn’t fast
- I wasn’t being myself and lead in the way I thought a leader should lead and look. I lead with a bit of arrogance, I must say, and a persona of sorts… and on top of that, I was seeking fame for myself to be truly honest. I wanted to be recognized in the church.
I was led astray by my emotions. I didn’t need the church’s support… I needed only to turn to God at the point of exhaustion and ask for His deliverance. Because I looked to humans for support and for strength, I lost my strength. I let what others chose to do to dictate how I would do my work for God. And most importantly, I didn’t happily make the sacrifice to do God’s work. Not only that, but I abandon God’s precious little children that needed to know Him.
How, then, shall we lead or become leaders?
I was so convicted in my choices as I read the book of Esther. I realized what I lacked: the heart to serve and sacrifice for the whole.
Esther was asked to save her people from being destroyed by Haman, and in the face of great conflict and potential death, Esther responded: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4:16).
How fearless was she! Oh, so fearless. I didn’t gather my strength, fast and pray, and take the plunge into fighting for what rightly belonged to the children. I did not advocate for my Sabbath School department and say, “if I perish, I perish but at least I fought for what I believed in”.
See, I only did what a human in my position and with my background can take and when it became hard and unfair in my mind, I quit. I took the easy route.
“Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).
Esther was led to her position so she can save her people using the authority she was given. But the leader in this was not Esther. No, it is Mordecai. He guided and urged Ester to do what is right. Because of the way Mordecai is, he guided Esther into a leadership position. They both put their lives on the line to save their people. They worked as a team and had faith in the Lord.
Imagine, what would have happened if I had faith in God and seek His guidance and looked only to Him for help? Where would I be? What miracles would have happened. Instead, I left the work He called me to do and someone else took the position after I left. For this place, relief and deliverance came from another place because I remained silent. I had the skills, but I did not have the right attitude and heart.
Well, then, how is a leader supposed to lead?
- Lead by example is one of the many phrases I’ve heard throughout my life… but I read from somewhere recently that you must first lead yourself (this simple change of words gave me a completely new perspective of what it means to lead by example) — are you discipline enough to lead yourself to where you want to be? Key here is to lead with discipline. Being discipline will keep you consistent in whatever you do. Can you lead yourself?
- BE your first follower. Do you want to follow yourself, your true self? If so, others will too.
- Pray, fast, and ask God to help you succeed if that is the task He has for you. If it’s not, He has better plans for you and you should ask Him to reveal it to you.
- Be willing to take the risk, to make sacrifices. Take those challenges in your way and turn them into victories.
- Always have a heart for service. When you are a leader, or leading in general, you are providing a service to your followers or attendees. If your services are good, you’ll have followers. If they are not, you will lose followers and eventually it’ll just be you. But this does not mean you should pretend to be someone you’re not.
Don’t rush into being a leader. It takes time, experience, heart, and a lot of sacrifice. Right now, keep the focus on you, and slowly, it’ll become a natural thing to just lead. 😊
Right now, I am disciplining myself to be the person I see myself being. My one desire is writing consistently for this blog, whether the blog becomes widely view or only for a few. I have been inconsistent in the past but have always kept this blog because I want it to succeed. To succeed in the sense that it just keeps going forward regardless of how many views it gets.
Recently, I’ve started to find joy in writing for God – that joy that speaks of His goodness. I am hoping my stories and self-discovery will encourage someone to keep moving forward, to have faith in God, find their self-worth, and know they are loved by God.
My prayer for my writing and for this blog is that it be for His glory only should it ever become otherwise, that God will shut it down.
I’m not anywhere near being a leader and that’s okay because but I am enjoying leading myself and simply being me: healing, learning, and loving.
*Please note that there are many advice and answers in the Bible regarding leadership and I encourage you to seek it out. The book of Esther spoke to me at this time and moment.