Not Like You Know Me Anyway.

Current Song playing in the background:
Michael Bublé – It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas
Two more months till Christmas Eve *hyperventilates*

Weeeoww, just had a pretty nerdy weekend this Labour week. Josh and I got tickets to Final Symphony at Aotea Centre; throughout the night, I kept feeling overwhelmed by how many sounds an instrument can make, even more when there’s a plethora of instruments on one stage. One thing though, a tad disappointed that I wasn’t very familiar with the movements cos I never played many of the Final Fantasy games. At one point, Josh was like “what, how can you not realise that was One Winged Angel”. Ah well. Also, just came back from Armageddon (#nerdyevent2). Again, I guess I don’t have much energy to game now and neither will I ever be into hardcore cosplaying – so the event was a bit underwhelming for me. Anyways, on with the blog.

***

Dear Leader,

Please get to know me before you try to lead me.

Signed,
Follower.

This is a topic very dear to my heart. It’s an occurrence that has caused anger, separation and dissatisfaction in my life, and I believe, in many others too.

As a disclaimer, I don’t claim to be at all, a perfect leader and neither do I think I’m an example of what a good leader should be like. But based on certain experiences, I can give a little insight into the good and bad things I’ve done/have seen during positions of leadership vs. being a “follower”

Invest
One of the biggest investment we have as a leader is in people. This is one of the many reason I’ve seen as to why people leave their churches/an organisation – it’s one of mine too. Countless meetings on “smile and greet” but little on “listen and invest”. Yes, I agree that a good smile and asking how are you does make a difference in making a person step through the doors. But if a person gets a Hi and nothing more, what’s stopping them from leaving if no one will notice anyway?

I remember attending a church for about three years, and almost every single week I get asked if I was new. I remember distinctly that pastors never knew my name even though I served in church. Often, sermons talk about how we should go out there and step out of our comfort zone. But sometimes, the leaders become the very hypocrites of their own preaching. Yes you can blame the lack of effort on my part, but I don’t think years of being in service and not a single greeting from the leaders reflect that. Yes I do believe we should all step out of our zone to talk to outsiders, but often we forget that there are insiders needing that same treatment.

In OCF, a Christian group I attend in Uni – there were many times when I’ve chosen to ignore talking to people cos I really can’t be bothered. There are days where I’ve walked away from people, who are blatently in need of company, because I think they are “awkward” to talk to. But there are also days where I do try to chat even though I just want to be alone. One of my good friends came about from that. We were both serving in worship at camp (it was my first time ever serving at OCF too), and I noticed this guy was a little awkward and quiet. Somehow or another, we and a few others were up late and we decided on heading out to catch the sunrise. Next thing you know, we were all hanging out at a playground being silly. And months down the road, we were all hanging out during the breaks between classes. I don’t believe it was all my part, but I know I had a big part in it.

Investing into others doesn’t just mean, hanging out and doing stupid things though. It requires a further step of being involved into their spiritual, mental, welfare etc life. In all the trials I have faced, the ones who were there to comfort or remind me, become the ones who end up sticking around long after.

Mean What You Say
Raise your hands if you’re guilty of this: “we should totally catch up” – but you never do. Let me say this, you’re not obligated to catch up over coffee with someone you don’t really hang out with in the first place. I’m talking here about the ones who actually say this. I find that this sentence shows up when 1) a person is trying to get out of a conversation, 2) after asking for a favour, 3) when they do want to catch up. Obviously I’m not talking about #3 lol.

  1. Trying to get out of a conversation
    Me right here. Some conversations have a limit to how many polite questions you can ask. So well, “hey we should catch up sometime”. Expectations – in the near future. Reality – till the next time we bump into each other.
  2. After asking for a favour
    I’ve done this before I’m sure. But I remember the last time someone asked me if I could take some photos for them (for free) through text, and by the end of the conversation, they ended with “hey we should catch up”. I’ve never seen that person since.

It’s okay to ask this question, really it is, but only if you genuinely make that effort to meet up. Otherwise, it becomes a bad reflection on your part. I’ve got told once “you keep saying to catch up but you never ask me when!” – whoops.

Know Who You Are Leading
I guess you could say this is more like an add on to the first point. The purpose of investing into the people you are leading, is to be aware of their circumstances and to lead from there. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Imagine trying to have a conversation in English to someone who speaks Mandarin only. Or imagine talking about how peanuts aren’t better than pistachio to a person who is allergic to nuts. Mmmm. Imagine talking about how *spoiler alert* Voldemort has a child, to someone who hasn’t read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. My point is, we need to be sensitive to a person’s state.

Open To Sharing
Again, this is another add on to point one. Many times, leaders want to get the most out of people whether it’s during discussion or something else. So they ask the tough questions and hope that they get a great answer to add on to. But more than often, tough questions can become personal. I don’t mean tough questions like “what’s the 23rd number of Pi.” But rather the questions that require a person to share a bit of their experience or even worse, try to answer without giving away their experiences. I know many leaders who like to talk about certain topics yet never give away much about what they’ve experienced. And when they do, it’s so vague, you may as well not have said anything – yet they try to get the deepest feelings out of you. In my opinion, if you’re not willing to be open about yourself, don’t expect it from others. If it’s tough for you to share about it, what makes you think it’ll be easy for another to do so. From personal experience, being completely transparent FIRST, open up doors for people to be comfortable enough to share after.

There’s def more to it than just these things – being a leader is difficult and requires faith, patience, determination, vulnerability and a whole bunch of other qualities. That’s why I’ll never claim to be a good leader. There’s a really good article written by John Piper (founder of Desiring God) about The Marks of a Spiritual Leader. It’s a really great read and I’m thoroughly challenged by many of the qualities he mentioned, it’s an old article but shucks, it’s still so applicable.

Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8

Paul on the other hand, is a great example of the kind of leader we should strive to be. Read more about him in Romans, 1&2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians. Colossians, 1 Thessalonians.

Erika.

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