The next part of week three we talked about the leader’s vision. We started by talking about failure and how we see failure. This was particularly difficult for me because I hate failure. (Most people do, right?) Even hearing the word made me cringe. I used to think that failure was a sign of weakness. That if I failed at something it meant I was inept and incompetent. Sure, you can learn from your failures and they are growing experiences. But for me, it was very hard for me to see failure this way. A staff worker and dear friend of mine (Chris) shared a testimony about his first year of teaching and how after his first year of teaching in Virginia (or Maryland?) he was found inept, and was fired before the first year was up. He shared his difficulties maintaining authority in his classroom and trust among his students. Chris talked about the struggles that he had in teaching the material in a way that his students would want to apply themselves to do. He also talked about things that he learned about himself from the experience, and how he was able to use his failure to better himself for the next year he had of teaching at another school. He also talked about the importance of knowing yourself, and knowing your own weaknesses. He used the failure of Samson as his example: Samson was a great and mighty warrior. But he had a weakness: women. Because of this weakness that went unchecked within himself, his enemies were able to use a woman in order to bring about his downfall. Samson was so far gone that he didn’t even realize that the Spirit of God had left him. In terms of failure, I’m not exactly sure where I personally stand. I mean, I haven’t been cringing in agony while writing this portion of the letter, so I guess that means I’m improving. However, I can’t say that I welcome failure just yet. I’ve been praying for God to change my false narratives of failure, and I can see the ways in which that has happened. I guess you could say I’m a work in progress here.
The last part of week three was spent talking about crafting vision talks. (A leader cannot lead anyone anywhere if he has not checked his vision for where a group is going and communicated it to the ones he wishes to lead. A leader also doesn’t just tell someone the vision; a leader inspires people to join in making that vision into a reality.) After talking about vision and what it takes to craft a good vision talk, we spent a few days preparing our own vision talks to be delivered in our family groups. My vision talk was on the necessity of multi-ethnicity and racial reconciliation in my chapter. (Our IV chapter at Carthage College including myself had about five people of a race other than Caucasian. There were also some people who didn’t quite realize the racial biases that they hold. Some of them are returning next year, and will be challenged in growth in this area. :)) I presented my vision talk, got some good feedback and I’ve been editing it more. Even though I’ve graduated, I’m really excited about having had written my vision talk. I’m sure that I’ll be able to find a use for it later on in life. 🙂 (And, my friend Nicole wrote her own talk with the same subject manner that she’ll be presenting to our chapter. 🙂 ) In evening sessions our speaker, Allen, talked about what it takes to be a leader of the Gospel. He talked about the aroma that we give off to others. He challenged us to regularly ask ourselves am I being an aroma of death or life to the people around me, and just how smelly am I? (He used the metaphor of incense in 2nd Corinthians 2.) He challenged us to face the insecurities that we have in being a leader. Some of my insecurities have been thinking that I can’t really make a difference in peoples’ lives; I overthink overthinking, I have too many weaknesses, and everything that I have failed at in being a leader. Allen’s nightly expositions reminded me that God transforms us as we lead, and that we alone are not competent to minister to God’s people. Even if we give all that we have, it is God who makes us competent to lead. And it is God-not me-who changes peoples’ hearts. I can’t do it on my own strength. Honestly, too many times I’ve tried. At the end of the day God chooses to use us in our weaknesses, struggles, and brokenness-not out of us trying to be perfect. Allen also talked about being the kind of leader that fights for the sheep that God has given us. I loved that expo! For a while God has been instilling in me what it means to be a warrior. At IVLI, I really started to see myself take to that lesson a lot. It actually started to click for me that I am a warrior! I am someone who God has chosen and called to put on His armor (Ephes 6) and fight. Not only am I called to fight in a spiritual sense (the state of my mind and heart, my words, etc.), but I’m called to fight in a natural sense as well (fighting for the ones that I love. Something else that Allen said along those lines was to be sure that we love the people that we are trying to lead. If we don’t love them, we shouldn’t try to lead them for leadership was not meant to be something that is done out of obligation or feeling that we have to or need to.) This week I was challenged and reminded that God’s definition of a leader is far better than my own, and I was able to continue on a process of remedying that.