Jennifer Wilkes | Co-Lead Pastor | Journey Community Church | Fairview Park, OH
Before I knew it — it was the time of year most of us parents dread — parent/teacher conferences. Only, I actually looked forward to going to my son Joel’s school for these. He was in 4th grade and I had always received amazing reports from his teachers. They would tell me, “Joel is an exceptional student.” “He is always kind, helpful and attentive in class.” Who wouldn’t love a parent/teacher conference like that? Honestly, it made my heart swell!
As I confidently walked into Mrs. Moses’ (no joke!) classroom, I was fully expecting another glowing report. And for the most part the conversation was going well, until I heard, “There is something of concern I feel I need to discuss with you Mrs. Wilkes.”
A swirl of thoughts rapidly ran through my mind. What could possibly be concerning about Joel? Mrs. Moses began to explain how she was having some trouble with Joel at recess. She proceeded to tell me that at recess, Joel gathers all the boys in both 4th grade classes together for a competitive game of football. Now, if you know Joel for five minutes, you quickly learn of his deep love for the game of football. She explained how he calls plays as the coach, carries out those plays as the quarterback and also serves as the referee. His actions could get a bit aggressive and one boy, in particular, wasn’t fond of playing by Joel’s rules.
As she continued to describe Joel in a “taking charge” fashion, I smiled wider and wider. I knew she was perplexed by my display of happiness, but little did she know that if I really threw out all self-control I would have been jumping up and down. “Mrs. Wilkes, I’m wondering what you think about this situation and how you can help me out?” And with a respectful, yet bold reply I declared how thrilled I was to see Joel display such amazing leadership skills. “He found his voice of leadership,” I declared. “And I couldn’t be more proud!” I went on to explain how Joel generally takes a back seat to two “Type A” parents and one older brother. He has to fight to get a word in edgewise! Hearing her describe Joel’s boldness and his sense of organization for something he is passionate about was thrilling.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation — not on a school playground, but in this playing field of ministry. You have leadership in you, yet you face the challenge of discovering it. Here are a few thoughts to help.
- Finding your leadership comes down to loving something more than the fear of failure.
Until you come to a place that you love something (like Joel loves football) more than you fear failing or the way you’re perceived, you won’t be able to walk in the leadership God has given to you.
- Finding your leadership often reveals the insecurities of others.
There will always be that “one boy” or “one girl” who just can’t handle the authority of leadership you carry from God. Always look to be kind and loving in the way you execute your leadership, but don’t shrink back because of their personal insecurities. Be strong but also tender.
- When you discover your leadership, others (though they have good intentions) may see it as an inconvenience and will then try to silence your voice.
It became clear to me that the recess aids and teachers didn’t want to take the time to nurture Joel’s blooming leadership skills. He had created a “hassle” they didn’t want to deal with. Even if others see you as someone who just creates “problems” — you can’t concern yourself with them. There’s a message in you for your church. Speak it loudly with confidence because God is with you and for you!
- The Kingdom has always advanced when someone chose to lead in the midst of their weakness.
Think about it. Esther led a nation to freedom despite her lack of confidence. Ruth followed Naomi into a foreign land even though she had no way to provide for herself. It was with shame and fear knocking on her door when Mary delivered the Savior of the world.
If you obey the call of God to lead with grace and in faith, I bet you, just like Joel, will receive the end-of-the-year Outstanding Leadership Award!