What I'm Reading Today: Exodus 32-34
From the time I was in middle school, I have been a leader of some sort. In 5th grade, I was elected to my first public office: secretary of my class. Ever since then I've held a leadership position of some sort.
When I first started leading groups, I had a very narrow definition of what a good leader was. I thought a good leader was someone who laid out his or her agenda for the people, got the people on board, and then enacted that agenda. All of the emphasis was placed upon me to be clever and take folks where I thought they should be lead. In other words, leading was all about ME.
That model of leadership worked for a while. By the time I reached my early thirties, however, I realized that such a model of leadership would no longer work for me. As my faith grew and my life experiences accumulated, I realized that while I often thought I knew what was best for myself and the group – the reality was that I didn't. There had been so many times in my life when I was more concerned about stubbornly holding on to MY agenda than I was about meeting the needs of others.
My control issues were so great that I mistakenly assumed "letting go" – or being flexible– meant that I was abdicating my responsibility as a leader. So I held on tighter to my agenda.
It wasn't until I entered parish ministry in my mid-thirties that I began to realize that there was only one way I felt called to lead. That way was predicated on being flexible and allowing myself – and the community's I serve – the ability to follow God's leading and not just my own.
On my good days those things are relatively compatible. On other days, however, my leading is more reflective of my ego and agenda than it is God's. The goal that I have established for myself, however, is to continue to grow in my ability to get out of the way as much as possible and let God lead in and through me.
Because of my lifetime struggle to understand what it means to lead, I can relate to Moses' frustration with the challenges of God leading. In today's reading, for instance, Moses cried out: "Look, you tell me, 'Lead this people,' but you don't let me know whom you're going to send with me. You tell me, 'I know you well and you are special to me.' If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans!"
So many times in my life and ministry over these past eleven years, I found myself crying out the same thing. "Let me know what's going on!" In retrospect, I am often God didn't. For the places where God has led me and the community's I served have been beautiful places that I would have probably never chosen to go on my own – since the journey initially would have looked too scary and too difficult.
So how about you? How do you do with this notion of responding to God's call even though you have no idea exactly where that call will take you?
Til next time …