Yes, I admit it, sometimes I am wrong about things. Not that I have any big confession to make today, but I have done my share of apologizing through the years. I was reading the book of Micah in the Old Testament the other morning and it contains a list of judgments and punishments God was preparing to pour out on Israel unless they admitted they were wrong in the decisions they were making and the way they lived and turned back to Him. The condemnations on the leaders are particularly harsh - because leaders hold so much influence over everyone else and God holds them to a higher standard. Israel's leaders' pride and love of the power they received blinded them to the fact they were no longer leading the people in service to God. That message packs a punch to me as I venture forward leading The Torch. It is quite sobering.
I don’t have to look far in my world to find examples of such failed, yet ignorant leadership. My Masters degree is in Communications with a concentration in leadership. We studied failed leadership practices quite a bit as I earned that degree - because there is a lot to be learned from studying how NOT to do things. Very often, one of the root causes of such travesty is the inability of the leader to own up to his or her mistakes and/or bad decisions. The leaders in Israel became so deeply entrenched in their roles as “spiritual” leaders, it was impossible for them to step aside from themselves and take an honest look at what they were doing and what was happening to the people they were leading. And everyone around them became so wrapped up in participating in the sins of the nation they could no longer advise the spiritual leaders wisely. Gulp. I don’t want to become such a leader.
I think who we choose for friends contributes greatly to our leadership abilities. As much as I love to be with the friends and acquaintances of mine who I know are going to tell me everything I am doing is just great - essentially the “yes” men in my life - it is a dangerous trap for me to surround myself with them. I need people like my friend Kim who always tells me like it is - she has made me aware many times of the flaws in my logic and thoughts and helps me think things through before I act. And she lets me mess up (I know I am terrible about returning calls sometimes) yet forgives me and welcomes me back when I realize I have been inconsiderate. I wouldn’t have made it this far without her insight and help.
Rose is another dear one who has endured with me. she is the one friend I have had longer than any other. She is always an angel when I make mistakes and have to grovel out an apology to her. She is yet another straight-shooter who has given me more than one wake-up call when I have headed down the wrong path. I don’t see her as often as I would like and I realize how much I need her strength and endurance and honesty in my life.
I can always count on my partner and good friend Kelly to shed new light on situations I encounter. She is also very good at playing the Devil’s Advocate and arguing out possible alternatives to the course of action I am considering. It is not always easy to acknowledge the discrepancies in my thought processes or the areas of my life I am not letting go of, but I can see how blind I am to them when someone who is not in my skin (often Kelly) points them out. I am wrong sometimes in my thinking and assumptions and I run things by Kelly to clarify and sort through them.
My friend and partner Sarah is another important source of honesty and support. She has no qualms about telling me my ideas won’t work - and she doesn’t always do it tactfully which can get me a bit mad - but I get over it and the value of her insight is not lost on me. I appreciate the fact she will be totally honest with me and she has helped prevent me from making a fool of myself many times. Without her calm logic and honesty The Torch might be running in fifty different directions right now, because my ideas and dreams go nuts sometimes. And whenever I start to feel down I know I can send her a text or a message and she will reply, “I am praying for you” along with some other encouragement to remind me of everything we have seen God do and that He is in control.
I am so thankful to have friends who will forgive and forget and reprimand and warn. I appreciate the fact they care enough about me to protect me from myself. I do make mistakes and I think as a leader I must absolutely MUST be able to admit my mistakes, genuinely apologize for them, fix the problems I created, and move on from there. I am very much humbled when I allow the enormity of what God is doing and has already done with The Torch to sink in. I see all my inadequacies and sometimes want to run fast and far in the opposite direction from the one He is calling me to. Without the love, support, honesty, and encouragement of my friends and family I would lack the courage I need to continue to move forward. I am so truly blessed to have them and trust they will help keep me on the straight and narrow.