When I was a little girl I remember getting lots of "E" marks on my elementary report cards. I was especially proud to get "E" on "conscientious" and "works well with others." As a child I was pretty shy; happy to follow; happy to participate, but not to make too much of a splash. I was also diligent to make sure my work was done properly. Oh the embarrassment of a "B" or a note saying I needed to work harder on my handwriting! What I did, I wanted to be done as well as possible. Even as that shy "don't make waves" child I remember feeling so frustrated during project work where I felt the leader wasn't as capable as I would be (if only I weren't so shy).
As a young adult the Lord gave me experiences where in order to get that "conscientious" praise, I was also going to have to step out and be a leader. As a result, in high school I was the drum major, band president, president of various other clubs, and a cheerleader. It never felt entirely comfortable to lead, but I felt a passion for most of the things I participated in, and wanted those organizations to be as good as they could be. At university, if I was to be praised as a talented future music teacher, I knew I had to step out of my comfort zone and lead once again. Lead children as I taught them; and as section leader in my area of the university band. A friend recently told me about herself, "When I'm in, I'm all in." I think she and I have this in common. =-)
There have been lots of years since I was at university. The Lord continued to teach me how to step out when I needed to advocate for my children, my husband, and (less frequently) myself. I ran a few small businesses that seemed to result in happy clients (as much as I hated the financial end of things)! I also learned to value myself as a capable teacher (of children, of adoption-related matters, etc.). Learning to value my own contributions was one of the most significant changes between my early life an later life.
Now, at 37, I find that I may not receive the praise of "works well with others" if I were still being graded by an elder. I've sought treatment for the Social Anxiety Disorder that was diagnosed when I was a young mom, and now I'm not so afraid to step up to a leadership position if I feel I have the knowledge required to lead in that particular area. I am as conscientious as ever--always wanting things to be done perfectly. The problem is I often want "perfect" to be defined be me! LOL! [Don't we all?]
More than ever, I spend time in prayer with my Lord, asking Him to help me be gracious to those that serve with me on various projects. I ask that He would give me the wisdom and discernment to know when my pride is getting in the way. I try to seek Him on each decision before it is made (although nobody is perfect, least of all myself).
Right now we are in the process of setting up the "basics" of Eban Project USA. We have received non-profit status and with that status comes the very real responsibility not only to Ghana, but also to those who support Eban Project in the United States. The last several weeks have been filled with research on the roles of a board vs. the roles of a (volunteer) staff; what individual roles should be filled at the start of a non-profit; how to create bylaws; etc., etc., etc., The little baby effort that was born out of a desire to support Eban Project in Ghana is blossoming into a larger organization. That has been my prayer for months, and it's finally happening!
As wonderful as growth is, it's also full of growing pains. It's difficult for me to allow others into what was before pretty much my own little effort. I'm used to making ALL of the decisions, and now many of those decisions will be made by committee. It's tough, no lie. And I don't think it's just tough for me. Everybody is trying to figure out where they fit in in the big scheme of things. I was reading an article on "Founder's Syndrome" and the author said, "If you have ever called the organization your 'baby,' you probably have the syndrome." I had just called it "my baby" to my friend earlier in the day! Oh my! It's difficult not to fall prey to "Founder's Syndrome" while also trying to in some way ensure that the over all message and purpose of the organization isn't changed along the way. I know in my heart I must allow "my baby" to grow if it is to ever become fully developed.
Ironically, one of my verses of the day is the below. I'll leave you with this, as I go to pray on it myself.
Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. — Philippians 4:5
ThoughtExtravagant over-reaction! That's what we're programmed to seek and to display in our modern world of sound bytes and over-hyped personality. But gentleness, that moderating grace in the midst of chaos and conflict, is so vital to bring the peace of God to conflict-laden churches, families, and relationships. How can we be gentle, how can we restrain from over-reacting to the wounds, offenses, and slights that come our way? The Lord is near! He is our vindication. He is our example. He is our comfort. He is our hope. He is our strength. He is near. We are not alone and our destiny, reputation, and value are not up to us to establish or to defend.
O LORD, my Father God, please be ever near me as I seek to be your person of character in the middle of the chaos and conflict around me. I ask that your presence be made known and that my character reflect that presence in all that I do and say today, each day that follows. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.