For most of my time in the church, I have had to contend with the internal and external voices that shout at me about my seeming lack of qualification to do the job that I am doing and be the leader that I want to be. In preparation for a leadership training bootcamp in Uganda in August, I’ve not only encountered these questions in myself, but seen the team that has assembled wrestle with the same questions.
For most people, the definition of leadership centers more around the position you hold and has very little to do with what you ACTUALLY do or your natural wiring. If you look closely, you will see leaders all around you changing the world and the communities they are in regardless of the title they have, the money they have made or have access to and the naysayers that surround them. It would seem, therefore, that while the world we live in conditions us to only pay attention to somebody when they occupy an office or have made a truckload of money, true innovation, leadership and world change is happening outside of those constructs.
Most people would never attend an intimate leadership masterclass taught by a mid-level no-name manager. Instead they would pay tons of money to go to a seminar to see a best-selling speaker in the hopes that he or she can illuminate leadership in practical ways for every single attendee. If you’ve been to such seminars, you know that they can be at best a mixed bag of soaring rhetoric and disappointment. The funny thing is that both best-selling speakers and no-name managers always point to an obscure person that knowingly or unknowingly said something to them that made them who they are.
Why aren’t we listening more to these obscure, life-changing, nugget-holding people? Why are we listening the second-hand regurgitation of their lessons?
LEADERSHIP IS ALL ABOUT WHAT YOU DO… not simply the position you have or the accumulated life experience you have.
In the church, we are used to this too. Aren’t we? The funny thing is that the bible is filled with stories of unlikely leaders. One of my favourite stories of a reluctant leader can be found in Jeremiah 1. What is most interesting to me about this story is what God says to Jeremiah in verse 7 and 8
But God told me, “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’ I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there. I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it. Dont be afraid of a soul. I’ll be right there, looking after you.”
My life has been changed by the most unlikely people and I owe who I have become today to them. My hope is that just like them, I will overcome the voices in my head and the voices around me that say I have no business doing leadership training and help somebody just like me.
Most of all, I want to remember my calling because I felt it so loudly, clearly and plainly almost 12 years ago sitting in a service at St Francis Chapel, Makerere hearing the first chapter of Jeremiah being read during the “old testament reading”.