Several years ago I sat facing Claudia, our women’s minister, with tears welling up, threatening to trickle down my face, making a mess of my mascara. Not a pretty sight to behold. The visit wasn’t what I expected. I had entered with an agenda in mind but received something entirely different.
For a few years, I had been involved in a women’s Bible study called Roof-Crashers, the name based on the Bible story in Luke 5 in which the friends crashed through the roof for the paralytic because they knew Jesus could heal him. I began as a participant, graduated to a table discussion facilitator, and most recently led the Connect team, which was created to provide a welcoming and warm environment for all attending the study. To say that I felt uncomfortable, inadequate and unqualified in these leadership roles is an understatement. Most of the time, I felt like a bunny living at the North Pole. Completely out.of.place.
The words that came from Claudia’s voice, however, were not those that questioned my ability, my talents, or my qualifications. She simply proclaimed, “You have leadership gifts. You are a leader. Will you help lead Roof-Crashers?”
I’d have turned up my hearing aids if I had any. Thoughts pinged in my brain like a pinball machine. What in the world is she talking about? Me, a leader? Me, lead Roof-Crashers, a Bible study of over 100 women? She must have me mixed up with someone else, because I wouldn’t even know what to do!
I would’ve looked around to locate the woman she was talking to, but I knew we were the only two in the office. What do you do with words that bring hope to a dying dream? Words that breathe life into a desire that was buried? Words that infuse soul into a subconsciously held belief that you nixed greater leadership opportunities due to a failed marriage? Let me tell you what happens.
You wake up from the lies the enemy has whispered to you. Oh, it’s not like I thought I was completely washed up or relegated to a bench warmer. It’s just that down deep in my heart, I figured that my failures limited my usability factor. After all, once people saw the big “D” on my sweater, they would fling me to the bin of botched break-ups, where I’d be relegated to behind the scene, second hand roles. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that, but I certainly couldn’t serve in any greater capacity. I imagined whispers behind my back. “Why is she leading when she’s been divorced? If she couldn’t make her marriage work, why should we listen to her? What right does she have to be in this leadership position?”
When Claudia looked at me, however, she didn’t envision my past failure and write me off as unusable. Instead, she perceived that which even I did not see and spoke it into existence like God calling the sun, moon and stars into being. Her voice invited me to take a position that I thought reserved for the faultless and flawless.
Yet, if we look at biblical history, Jesus chose the broken, battered and beaten down to carry His message of unfailing love. Because they experienced His forgiveness and mercy, they were perfect examples to the lost. Who better to tell the message of grace than the woman at the well with five previous husbands and a live in boyfriend, or the woman caught in the act of adultery? Their culture rebuffed and rejected them, but Jesus spoke life-giving words into their souls, and they were filled with hope.
It’s when we recognize our brokenness that Jesus can breathe life into those painful places, and we can be used to spread His light to others who need a resurrection. When we realize that leading anyone is not about reaching a state of perfection, but about God working in and through our messy lives to reach a broken world, we rise up in His strength and power—even when we don’t know what the heck we are doing!
Our qualification to lead comes from Him calling us to use our broken pieces to summon the shattered to shine in a dark world.
In the middle of your muddled mess, let God renew your soul with His words of life to lead right where you are, right now!
photo credit: pedrosimoes7 via photopin cc