“There are places you do not want to go but want say you’ve been.” Holly Sheldon
Holly said this 1.5 years ago at #WCEast and it was probably the sentence that has stuck out in my mind consistently the last year and a half. It was that sentence that challenged me every time I wanted to be cowardly, it was that sentence that reminded me of my vow to go anywhere, do anything, anytime at any cost for God.
It’s the fear of the cost that always made my knees shake. The fear of rejection when I made stupid embarrassing French mistakes, it was the cost to my pride that I didn’t want to lose.
I was reflecting on this again this week on two different occasions. One, I read a blog post by my boss on how thankful he’s been challenged to do things that were so out of his reach. In his posts “In Over My Head” he basically describes the last year of my life. From the moment he challenged me to co-direct Paris project with him my life changed drastically. Before that challenge I had grown very comfortable in my faith, even if I was still sharing my faith regularly and raising support, two things a lot of people would find very intimidating to do. But saying yes to direct a project (I had never directed anything before) in a language I was rarely speaking and didn’t have much practice in was “un grand défi” – a huge challenge.
I remember walking through Charles de Gaulle airport May 2011 as we got there to lead the project and I remember feeling like I was walking to my own death. In the sense that Rick James talks about in his book A Million Ways to Die, that’s exactly what I was doing. I was walking into the death of my pride as I would be letting students correct my french grammar and knowing I’d be trying to tell a bunch of atheist students – in French – that they need God.
Fast forward a year later and we just finished launching a new campus in Montreal… in French. I’m now campus director with my married-for-6-months husband at UQAM. Aside from Paris Project, I have never worked in French before. This week I’ve been reflecting on if I had let Andy accept my initial “you must be crazy!” when he asked me to direct with him. Where would I be spiritually and organizationally? I would likely be in a rut in both senses, a stagnant under-challenged campus staff.
UQAM was a pipe dream of mine that became a reality thanks to various circumstances including my boss’s personal experience of familiarity in living “over his head”. What if he wasn’t willing to put others in that same place he was challenged to be in? What if I let my fear direct my decisions rather than trusting in the instinct of my boss? In the end, I chose to believe he was right about my leadership potential, even if I felt like it was way beyond me. I’m so glad I did.
What I needed most over the last 8 years was for God to humble me through bringing me into situations where I was regularly “in over my head,” so He did. I am so thankful that he brought me to a place where many of my greatest assets are useless, where I’ve had to learn to depend on Him in ways that I didn’t before.
The best place for a proud young leader is the place where they have no choice but to depend on God. (link)