Stepping into leadership was easier for me in high school. I’ll have to psycho-analyze myself some other time, but it seemed appropriate to run for student and class council, to put myself in the ring for section editor, to try out for the pom pon squad.
But stepping into leadership as an adult involves a lot more second-guessing, more internal conversations between the voices that say, “You can’t do it! You shouldn’t do it! You should do it!” It’s very loud in my head sometimes.
So when the women’s conference planning committee members were asked to consider what we might enjoy doing I sat silently. It doesn’t seem appropriate to volunteer myself for this or that, or to say, “Hey, I think I’d really do a great job doing such and such.” It’s more appropriate to simply sit, listen to what others want to do, and do what no one else wants to do.
There were some thoughts, some louder than others, running through my head during that meeting. I think Sharon might have noticed me sitting there making funny faces as I struggled with this internal conversation and she threw my name in the hat for emcee.
I felt my response to her invitation to lead later required a written note of apology and thanks – sorry for sounding like an idiot as I dismissed her suggestion, and thanks for seeing something in me that I wouldn’t dare consider.
So I spent this weekend as the self-appointed queen/emcee for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship’s Midwest Cluster Women’s Conference. I shared from upfront how when I and others in IVCF think of an emcee we think of Greg Jao – a dear friend and mentor of mine, and how that terrifies me. And I shared about the anxiety I was experiencing as I stepped into that upfront role. Seriously, who wants to be compared to a Greg Jao or an Auntie Jeanette? Because honestly I didn’t like how I was comparing myself to them so how I could I bear being compared to them by others.
I decided that Greg’s santa hat was a great idea, but that while I would gladly borrow the idea I would need to make it my own. I look better in a tiara than a santa hat.
I decided about two minutes into the conference that I was more afraid of what God might say to me than what I might say from up front.
I realized that I still stumble for a response when someone asks me to step into leadership, but that I’ve also learned how to accept compliments with more grace and gratitude than before.
I was reminded that being open to what God is doing in my life is both hard and amazing. My body still aches from exhaustion. My heart and soul are still restless and eager to process what God was revealing this past weekend.
And my tiara will have a special place in my happy green office to remind me to be open, sensitive and courageous for such a time as this.