Why I Moved From the Backseat to Being a Leader

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Being a team leader is tricky, difficult, and definitely not something I ever saw myself being able to do. I was once called a “backseat leader” during a high school FCA meeting. I took great pride in it because I was called a leader in some respect and thought it was the only way I would ever be able to lead. I clung tightly to that title; so tightly, it silently became a part of my identity. Whenever there was an opportunity for me to show my leadership skills, I safely hid behind the title and convinced myself that I didn’t have ‘real’ leadership qualities. I decided any person who affirmed me as a leader was only trying to make me feel better about myself.

Without missing a beat, he responded with, “You should get out of that back seat and hop up front.”
In college, my understanding of my leadership abilities changed when I had dinner with a friend. He had been a leader for my spring break mission trip. I honestly do not remember a whole lot about our conversation except for his encouragement to me. I remember proudly exclaiming to him, “I’m more of a backseat leader. That’s what I was called in high school.” Without missing a beat, he responded with, “You should get out of that back seat and hop up front.” My heart jerked to a halt. At once, I was terrified and thrilled at the prospect of actually having the ability to be a leader. Then he reaffirmed my ability to be a leader by giving me examples of what he saw in my potential. This was a completely foreign way to view myself.

Fast forward to this past April when I received a phone call from our executive director asking if I would be interested in becoming the new team leader. I was very surprised, extremely nervous and excited that I was the one they asked to be the team leader. I was afraid of messing up and failing horribly but knew that, ultimately, God was in control. He knew exactly what He was doing, and I would need to lean on Him for my strength. 

I was afraid of messing up and failing horribly but knew that, ultimately, God was in control.

It has definitely been an interesting journey so far. I have failed my team many times by forgetting to relay information, releasing unnecessary frustration, or failing to verbalize specific expectations. Among all the other lessons I’m learning, communication skills are something I am having to constantly learn and employ. Forgetting to pack your lunch is one thing, but forgetting to remind your teammates to pack their lunches because it won’t be provided at the training we’re attending…that’s something else entirely. Thankfully, my teammates have shown me a lot of grace in the midst all of it all.

This is not a role to prove anything about myself.
In this transition to team leader, I have learned a great deal and continue to learn even more every day. In the beginning, I think I wanted to prove to myself and others around me that I could be a good leader. Instead, however, I have been very humbled. This is not a role to prove anything about myself. This is a role to learn how to humble myself before the Lord and my teammates. It is a role to learn how to love and guide and be completely transparent in my failures just as I am with my successes. Most importantly, I have learned that it’s not about making sure my teammates follow the rules. It’s about sharing the heart behind the rules and constantly pointing them back to Christ.

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