Walden 2010: The Dance


Fear and Authority

I have not always been the best leader. My independent nature is not one that readily wants others to join me even though my natural ability often puts me in charge. It isn’t until the last year or so that I gave myself pause and took stalk of how I was leading the people around me—both consciously and unconsciously. I don’t think I was very interested in taking responsibility for actually leading anyone. I had my opinions and I wanted to convince people, but actually inspiring them into action? Well now…let’s not get too crazy here. I am only 24. And I was much younger when I had these opinions. People might agree with me. Adults might agree with me, but following me on mission is a totally different story. A passionate 18 year old is not ready to be in charge. But neither were there people preparing me to one day be in charge and so my version of leadership up until the end of college was equivalent to changing people’s minds.

I began to lead my first discipleship huddle this last fall. (I cover what huddle is in my post on failure). Starting out I realized that this is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. I had led other things I suppose; small groups at my campus ministry, or prayer nights. But huddle is about more than talking. It’s about more than just reading the bible. It’s about actually living. It’s more than talking about living another way too. It equips the person to live that way and holds them accountable for doing it. Yikes!

Assuming the role of ‘leader’ was difficult for me. Intentionally taking up the authority to lead was intimidating. Since I am hopelessly in love with the kingdom aspect of my relationship with God, as an immature disciple I chose to seek authority in order to sustain my identity. It is a dysfunction that naturally punishes all who attempt it–and I had been severely punished. Discovering that my identity is from my covenant with Jesus and not my own authority was delightful. But now that I am being given responsibility to lead and lead well I find that stepping into that authority is difficult.

It has been in the last few weeks that I’ve really begun to explore why my huddle is so disorganize and off balanced…why hasn’t it established it’s natural rhythm? Why don’t my members seem to make it a priority? Not only that, but why did the people who I led before in college not follow me on mission? It was when we went over the octagon in my own huddle, talking about preparing persons of peace to come on mission with us, that I realized how bad of a leader I was.

I had spent most of my previous leadership energy on ‘organizing’ things for the people following me to participate in. I did girl retreats, life group, prayer night, and they were all good things. But those who participated didn’t catch the vision and start organizing and leading these things themselves. They didn’t look at how I lived and treated them and became intentional about living the same way towards their friends. I’m now beginning to understand why. What I was doing wasn’t leadership—it was management.

Management is rather like babysitting: You create things that others can participate in with the hopes that they will accomplish what you hope to accomplish. Leadership is taking authority that God gives you, inviting others on the mission that you are on, and challenging them to live committed to that vision in their lives. It requires more than just something to say, it requires actually leading, taking responsibility and authority and inviting others to follow where you are going.

When God opened the door for me to actually lead, I lacked the confidence to lay out the rules and be clear in the beginning of the vision and expectations of my huddle. It was easier to just invite people into what I was ‘organizing’ as I had done before and hope that they’ll get the vision as it comes. I wasn’t even clear with myself about my authority as a leader. So I became the ‘manager’ that delved out tasks, but never actually led. I was so afraid to take authority and lead well that I allowed my huddle to become imbalanced and set a poor example for what discipleship should be. As it turns out, I feared their rejection of my authority as a leader and so never took the authority that was necessary for my huddle to go anywhere.

Instead of fearing rejection of the people I desperately want to disciple I ought to be confidant in who God made me as a leader and how he chose to equip me. I need to trust that He will bring about whatever results He wants by my obedience and stewardship of what he’s taught me…not by my attempt to ‘manage’ things. Avoiding authority incase something goes wrong like I had done is just a way for me to take control from God and do things my way.

Being humble enough to admit that I might fail as I learn to take on the authority necessary for a good leader is what allows God to work through my leadership. It’s what allows me to press forward even if people decide not to join me. It was a rookie mistake, which is good because I am a rookie and I can learn from it. But it wasn’t the only mistake on my journey of leadership. I’ll cover more on that in the next post.