I watched as she stood beside him, hands in her pocket and head up so she could read the words. I watched as they sang the songs oblivious of each other.
I watched as she sang every word and didn’t care that she was the only little person in our row standing. She didn’t care, she never does.
I remembered in that moment the conversations we are having with this one, how she passionately wants to become a church leader. A dream she has had since she was 6. So excited and so determined. She is already dreaming of the people she will reach – ‘those who wouldn’t fit into a ‘normal’ church, she says. We welcome this dream with open arms.
She is 9 years old. Whatever she does, whatever path she takes she is born like the rest of them to make a difference.
As the music played and the congregation sang I stood with my eyes closed in the hall with all the kids and the distractions and I prayed for her heart. Leadership can be harsh.
Being a person of influence in any form can bring such a joy but with it brings its own pain. It brings hard work, discipline, a soft heart and tough skin. Leaders become leaders because they are passionate about being part of a change. I believe all of those who go into leadership do it because they have a love for it but know there will be the rough along with the smooth. Recently however, I have been impacted by the way people in any sort of leadership position are treated both in the face to face and the social media. The grace or so it seems is becoming less for getting it wrong and being a human (being). People forgetting as they throw their words carelessly that they are speaking to people who go home and try hard to not let the comments or the emotions affect their presence with their family. I have heard words that have been said without any thought just weapons to wound. Like their hearts are stones and ‘they should be able to take it’. This happens everywhere. The school gate, the doctors surgery, the political world, community and in the church.
This is what my girl will have to face. Or does she?
I want to challenge this in each of us. Let us be a generation where we value each other so strongly that we think before we speak directly or behind backs. Lets be a generation that are quicker to think about that person being a human with a heart that can be hurt. Lets be a generation that considers that the person you have just shouted at will ponder over your words whether they are truth or lie.
Lets be a generation that doesn’t make conflict attacking but does it well with kindness. Where we honour in public and challenge in private. Lets not use our own stuff to project onto those that we dehumanise because they are in leadership or in some sort of influential role. I have seen firsthand the pain behind social media jabs to those who I love and decided be game changers but that means they are open to the worlds negative opinions. It breaks my heart.
I would love to know where did it all change and we think that we can treat people in any sort of position with such unkindness. Where we think that it was acceptable to call a politician a muppet or to shout at the teacher at the school gate. Where did we think it was normal to say such unkind things behind the back of the people in any sort of influence because we don’t like or agree with what they say? What about nurses who lay down their lives for others but are shown such disrespect and impatience. When did we get to the stage that the youth leader could lay down their love of all that they do because their heart couldn’t take one more criticism.
Leadership is a privilege and a position I have never taken lightly. As leaders we welcome challenge and critic when done well. We have never feared that.
When we were prayed in four years ago I made a promise to myself that I would lead as authentically as I could, be real with the highs and lows. I want to keep doing this, it gets harder each time you hear the gossip and the whispering.
Lets work harder with each other, bearing with each other, loving and protecting, challenging in respect and honour.
I believe this is possible, I have to. I want my kids to change the world.