When I was 18 years old, I was named the youth pastor of a small church that I had been attending. My pastor at the time spoke with my mom before offering me the position and after speaking with my mom about it, I accepted. It was a great opportunity and I was extremely grateful that the leaders of the church saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I was a leader.
Although I was seen as a leader, it wasn’t until I was put into that position where some character issues started coming up. I treated friends, best friends at that, like I was better than them. I acted like I knew everything because of a title. I was arrogant, selfish, and worst of all a pretender (Fake it till you make it, am I right?).
Have you ever noticed that any bit of power to an internally flawed person sometimes convinces them that they are what they’re not?
Well, I might be putting too much pressure on an 18-year-old kid who didn’t even know where he wanted to go to college. Nonetheless, my outlook on leadership was deeply flawed and I am thankful for the many opportunities that I have had to serve in leadership roles, but I am even more grateful for the hard lessons I have learned through my shortcomings and the grace of others. Despite myself, but mostly by the grace of God, I have been blessed to find myself in positions of influence and responsibility. Thankfully, I am not that 18-year-old kid anymore, but admittedly I’m not that far off.
Ego can’t be bigger than the calling
A friend reminded me of something I shared a few years ago that struck a chord with me recently, “Your ego can’t be bigger than your calling.” Often times, people’s attempt of being humble will go a couple ways: self-deprecation or false humility. I would like to pose that neither are true humility. The first is insecurity and the second is arrogance. Trust me, you’re not fooling anybody with either. There is much more for you and those in your sphere of influence as you serve others from your authentic self (I am tempted to go off on a tangent about the “authentic self,” but I will save it for another post).
Character IS important
Like I mentioned earlier, I was a leader flawed in character and driven by my own desires to succeed, operating out of insecurity and fear. Sadly, there are so many guys in this same boat and have no idea. What has been a drastic change in my life has been my acknowledgement that I am flawed and that’s ok. God has surrounded me with amazing friends that have seen through the facades that I have created in order to impress, dazzle, and attract attention. Once I stopped pretending, I was able to be myself and ask real honest questions of God and of myself about the kind of person (and leader) that I want to be. That is the place where character is continuously developed and authentic self is found (At least, I think. I’m 25, what do I know?).
Character is absolutely everything. Seventy years from now, you can have a ton of stuff, have a bunch of accomplishments under your belt, and get your name recognized for the things you’ve done (which would be cool). But what if you have absolutely zero impact on a relational level to those around you? Imagine the legacy that you leave boils down to “that one thing you did that one time?” That literally gives me anxiety! I don’t want my time on earth spent being known as a great writer or a great public speaker (which would be dope, don’t get me wrong). But I do want to be known by the way I loved and cared for others relentlessly, and I want to see what that does for the world.
I want to give you guys a little homework. Read Romans 12, but pay attention to verses 9 through 21. Paul writes beautifully on what it means to love selflessly and do well to others. I challenge you all to think deeply about who you want to be and invite God into the process of that.
The journey is hard y’all but I am praying for grace, wisdom, and especially courage to do life differently. I hope you join me in rethinking what your leadership will be.
Jonathan grew up in Chula Vista, California up until he was 15 years old. He then moved to a small town in the High Desert called Barstow where he spent his high school years. He graduated with a degree in History/Political Science from Vanguard University in 2014. He is currently working as a Resident Coordinator at Vanguard, while he is completing his Master's degree in Organizational Psychology.