I couldn’t believe what I was hearing! “Would you like to lead worship that Sunday?” Yes! Yes, of course, I wanted to lead worship! My heart nearly exploded with gratitude. When I had come back to church a few years earlier, there were no expectations. Zero. The calling I felt God had birthed in my heart had long been disqualified. At least, that’s what I thought; yet, there I was accepting the invitation to fill in in the absence of the worship pastor. It still blows my mind when I see how God has ordered my steps. I was part of a leadership team with two of the most gifted, highly-favored people I have ever known. I never quite got over being invited to the table, you know? All the plans were in place. Unfortunately, there was plenty of room for freaking out. Yeah, about that.
Sunday morning soundcheck went off without a hitch. We had a phenomenal team! After that, though, it happened - the freaking out, that is. Self-doubt is not a kind, warm friend that comes alongside you to encourage you and keep you humble. No, not at all. It's a scheme of the enemy, whose big brother is FEAR. Of course, I didn't realize that at the time. I was nearly frantic. I grabbed my Bible, went into a small room in the back hallway, and knelt down to talk this over with God. What else is a girl to do? My prayer wasn't elaborate. I was only stating the obvious, tears rolling down my face, "God, thank you for bringing me here and giving me this moment. But, I can't do this without You. I won't. Please, help me." I sat very still for a time and then flipped the Scriptures open to the Psalms. I was heading to the passage I would share that morning but stopped a few chapters short at Psalm 108. Here's what it says.
My heart is confident in You, O God; no wonder I can sing Your praises with all my heart! I will thank the Lord, among the people. I will sing your praises among the nations, for Your unfailing love is higher than the heavens. Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May Your glory shine over all the earth.
And, that's when I breathed a sweet sigh of relief. In that tiny room backstage, while I knelt on the floor, the Lord started teaching me two truths that profoundly inform the way I lead.
1. Leadership is about my position in Christ. It's not a performance. Do you see it there in the first verse of Psalm 108? My heart is confident IN YOU, O God; no wonder I can sing Your praises with all my heart! I lead from my position in Him. It's all about who He is and who He says I am. If I try to lead without having first established who I am in Christ, then I am squashing potential. All of my gifts, abilities, and influence come from Him. And, even more than that, He is with me. I don't have to take a step without His guidance. You don't, either.
2. Leadership is not about making a name for myself. It's about His name and His fame. The psalmist ends with both feet planted firmly in this truth when he says, "Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. May Your glory shine over all the earth." I want people to know Jesus. The same gospel that compelled me toward Him is for everyone. Fixing our eyes on Him (positioning ourselves in a relationship with Him) will automatically move us in this direction. How remarkable that we get to be part of telling that story! He's the lead story -- always.
Everything was as it should have been that Sunday. And, now? There is rarely a time I step onto a platform, large or small, that I don't whisper these verses as a prayer right along with Isaiah 26:8. See, leading well means being firmly positioned in Christ. It means saying follow my example as I follow Christ's example. Isn't that when our influence will be at it's best? I think so. Here's the thing: I simply want people to see Jesus in everything I do and say, both on and off the platform. After all, He's the one I love the most. And when people see Him, it changes everything. I am infinitely grateful that He doesn't leave us to go it alone.
Questions to ponder: Do I have a tendency to depend on my gifts and abilities more than on God's power in my life/leadership? How do I define success in leadership?