I thought leading meant to be shoved into the spotlight.
It meant an exposing, fluorescent light, even an all too revealing black light. Something that instantly bared my stains, my scars, things I had long hustled to protect.
I thought leading meant to be a perfect example, an ideal version. Someone people were supposed to be like. But, the bar was too high, too stiff and I only felt the distance between where I was and wherever that was. I only felt this impossible gap.
I thought leading meant to be accountable. And who wants to be accountable!?
It's the ultimate buzz kill. Who wants to invite a megaphone into their private moments and intimate thoughts?! Don't tell me there's things I can't do, don't tell me there's things I can't be.
I thought leading meant to have the answers, the knowledge, the smarts for the questions that would inevitably come up my way. But, I flail and flounder and fall for a good portion of my waking hours. I argue and wrestle and bite my lip on my own questions, often without a whiff of an answer, so who am I to try and rustle up something for you?
I thought leading meant to be available all the time to everyone, an introvert's nightmare. What I have in my own silence, in my own solitude is my gold, is my survival. The thought of ladling myself out to the masses scared every urge to be open out of me. What will I have left of my insides if they belong to everyone else now?
I thought leading meant needing less of Christ because He would give me the thumbs up and pop my water wings before turning and tending to the needier. I didn't want to be the lifeguard, a leader over people, because I wanted to remain a beginner in the pool so I could secure His attention, be sure of His love. How would I get that if I wasn't drowning? If I led, I didn't have permission to struggle, to go under the water anymore. I was supposed to know how to swim.
I thought leading meant being less of myself. Trading in my untamed personality for a more conditioned, groomed set of characteristics. To be maimed by boring, corporate insignia and get in line for the same lunch everyone else was eating. I felt like a wild horse being pulled and fitted for a giant saddle made of cement, something that would eventually crack my backbone and my spirit. My instinct was to kick. Hard. To pull away from the ropes, the rules, the right, and pin it for the hills where the wind would welcome me back.
I thought leading meant small parameters, suffocated limits, lines in the sand. But with only one life to live, why would I want to fence myself in? You tell me not to go past the driveway to play and you'll find me in the next neighbourhood. I was that kid. I'll show you I'll be fine and your rules don't need to be my rules.
I thought leading meant loneliness. The triangle of leadership goes up, it thins out. I wanted to be with the people at the party, not the NARC no one invites. I already experience loneliness to a wavering degree, so to compound that by going up a level, by graduating into something new, no thank you. That's the wrong direction.
That is what I thought and am still tempted to believe leadership means, what I always felt it was. So I never pined for it, never attempted to really earn it.
Please pool the spotlight on someone else, require more of another, let me scrap my knees on some dimly lit sidewalk a few more times.
But these attitudes and ideas about leadership were misguided. They were all just the monsters in the waiting room raising a ruckus, trying to take me down before God inevitably came around the corner, said my name and called me forward.
I wanted to waste time with them, with cracked ideas and inaccurate theory, because I knew if I stood up and sought truth, if I really gave my ear to His calling, I would have to lead.
And nothing made me white knuckle my armrests more.
In the past year, He has called my name one too many times. His volume pulled at my heels, until finally, I got up.
And without the clutter and noise of everything I thought I knew, we sat staring down the barrel of all of these self-stirred notions. To diagnose them, correct them, prune them, polish them. To trade them out for truth.
They were all smoked with my selfish intentions and fears and though it's taking a long time to wash that smell out, this is what I now know.
It has nothing to do with NARCS or introverts, drowning or megaphones.
My stains, my bullet wounds, my cracked bones bring glory to Him when they are seen, when they are shared. When I am the tour guide of my own mistakes and misgivings, God can use them to teach. Handing out veneered versions of myself holds no draw for me because there is nothing relatable or resonating about that. I am fallen and being straight up about it breathes freedom into others.
I am not expected to be perfect. And the distance between where I am and the perfection that is Christ will always be enormous, so I have all the more reason to speak of grace. Grace is what fills the canyon, the chasm, between He and I, between the example that He is and the example that I am. I am not crushed by perfection, but covered by immeasurable grace.
Accountability is trust, so no, God is not sitting in the corner wondering if I have a stash of cigarettes under my mattress or counting the minutes that I pray, and He's not waiting for me to admit those kinds of things to anyone. But He needs to trust me. So I am forthright with my quiet thoughts, my true motives, my cavernous heart because when He asks, "Can I trust you?" I want to say, "Yes."
I don't need to have all the answers. He will give me wisdom to answer well and when I can't, I am unafraid to say, "I don't know." and flip to the Word. The Holy Spirit will step in with the answers and hug me for asking. The words have always been His and I am simply the mouthpiece, the vessel.
If I am filled more and more with Him then ladling myself out becomes ladling Him out and that is never negative, never exhausting, never a reason to shut myself in. He will always fill me to then sow out. Our precious and protected hours together will always be golden, but I’m not in charge of what He needs me to give. He is.
He will pop my water wings because I am not a child anymore. Acting as a clanging cymbal of drama syphoning for reassurance is not the way to gauge God's love. He will not pander to it. It only wastes time. He doesn't need me to be a lifeguard, either. He needs me to grow up, build hearty limbs, dive into the ocean and pin it for open water. To swim sure of my secured value and worth.
Who I am is heightened and enhanced in His context. The one who knit me in the womb, who fervently designed every cell of who I would become, doesn't want to dislocate my gas pedal nature or confiscate my desire to gun it for the sharp turns. He's not asking to snuff out my wildness, but calling it out as a weapon. He said, "Dani, do not equate tame with leadership. You are called to crack the silence, you are called to lead." Only in Him, by being wholly who I am, can I do that.
If I focus solely on what's outside of the narrow path of my purpose and the intimacy I have with Him while I walk it, I am missing the plot entirely. God's way is freedom and any lines in the sand promote and testify to that freedom. If I want to rebelliously toss myself off the path just to see if I can, I've done it before and can do it again, no problem. But I'll knock myself right out of alignment from His will. And since His will is of greater value to me than knowing I still have options A, B, C, D and E open, I'm sticking right behind His shadow.
And as for loneliness, yeah, leadership does thin out, much like a peak on a mountain. The air gets a little tighter, but isn't the point to climb?
This life and our calling in it is an all hands on deck, bring out the special teams, line up the 1st string type of gig. SO I am are never climbing and fighting alone without His presence and am most certainly not fighting for one more yard, but for an entire Kingdom. So the fear of loneliness is only the enemy's strategy to keep me napping in my gear at base camp.
So there's a before and an after happening here.
Before I knew Him and now, I am in love with Him.
If He's arising in the morning to tie His sandals, I'm lacing up mine.
If my Father, who sits atop the curve of the cosmos, is asking anything of me, I'm listening.
If He is calling me into the company of Kings, I'm running in.
If Jesus Christ is asking who will follow Him, with bullet resin in my nails and war soaked into my shirt, I am raising my hand.
Because I am not my own anymore.
I am His.
I have been bought, signed for in blood.
I have been betrothed since birth as His daughter, His disciple.
So I will acknowledge,
I will recognize,
I will honour that price with my service.
With my leadership.