5 Things I’ve Learned Leading with Other Women…and why I’d do it again. — Part 2 –

Here are some more of my “lessons learned” from co-leading an event with my friends. If you didn’t read last week, I’ll catch you up. Some friends and I put on an IF:Local at our church. It was good and hard. It was not perfect but powerful.  And we all agreed we’d do it again.

I’m finding the Lord is teaching me to walk in paradox and pursue hard things because it is how He refines me. Maybe you can relate and specifically to situations where you have led or “co-led” with other women.

Here’s number 4 & 5….

4. Give people the benefit of the doubt.

Under pressure we all react differently. Our pasts, our wounding, our fears all push us to act in strange ways when the stakes are high. Let’s be real, I get bossy and impatient and my need to control skyrockets. Oh, it’s not pretty. I found myself micro-managing my friends the morning-of with this agenda that I had in my head but forgot to verbalize.

Let’s say, I was frustrated and turns out they were too. As I was rushing from one thing to the next, I noticed my friend was upset. Instead of assuming why she was upset, I stopped and asked her what was wrong. (I’ll admit, I wanted to assume because jumping to conclusions can be quicker sometimes.)

Initially we both had our defenses up and the exchange was a bit heated. She told me I had rushed her and I realized I had placed my agenda over assessing her needs. But because of our friendship, I cared how this conflict worked out. So I tried to listen when I wanted to react. When I got outside of my own agenda I realized I did rush her, so I apologized. We both re-directed our focus to our shared vision of the event, and kept moving forward.

I share these details because I often have this internal conflict when I work with others. I really like being right. But as I’ve tried to place relationships over results, I’ve discovered that being right can derail my relationships and/or our greater vision. I love others better when I ask myself, “Do I want to be right or understand? “Can I give her the benefit of the doubt?”

A desire to understand while assuming the best of people means I trust what God says is true. He created everyone for a unique purpose. We are each deeply loved and belong in His kingdom.  This requires me to stop and observe instead of simply react out of defense or take offense. Was this hard to do? OF COURSE!

But when I tried, I found conflicts became learning opportunities and a chance for me to practice grace: both extending it through apologizing and receiving it through forgiveness.

5. Failure Means God’s Not Done

I heard quote today that summarizes my experience perfectly:

“Life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forwards.”

Soren Kierkegaard

I didn’t know I was expecting myself to lead perfectly until the week after the event. I was walking around feeling optimistic & thinking we did a great job for our first event ever. I had asked for event feedback and discovered we had some minor things we would tweak.

And then it hit me.

I wasn’t asking for feedback about me.

When I was a classroom teacher I was evaluated annually and every time I would ask the observer, “What could I do better?”  “What could I do differently.” I began to realize that my optimism about the event was actually repression. A repression of my fears. This wasn’t a job where if I disagreed I could brush it off with the excuse, “they just came in at the wrong time.” Or if I didn’t like what I heard, I could let it go and move on….even to a different job.

This time, I worked with my friends. Friends that I love, admire and care what they think and want to keep in my life. (Now mind you, I loved my school, too but I think it didn’t feel as personal so I could separate myself from it more….how embarrassing!) But this time, the feedback felt closer. What if I asked my friends the same questions and they said, “You didn’t lead well.” Or, “You messed this up big time.” What if they didn’t want to work with me again?

Guys – this fear was real and deep. I had stuffed it deep down and chose to walk around using optimism to avoid feedback and protect myself.  Yes, it was somewhat unconscious repression, but real nevertheless.

It was in the middle of my messy self-realization that I discovered

my fear and my faith don’t align.

I need Jesus because I am imperfect. Not because I’m perfect. I’ve devoted my life to following Him because He has saved me in perfect love. And His perfect love continues to cover me in grace daily.

So I’ve decided to trust my faith and cast out fear. And I had to name it first in order to cast it out. I replaced my fear of rejection with the truth that I’m deeply known and loved by a Father who sees my mess.

I trust that my failures mean God’s not done.

He’s developing and forming me, redeeming my brokenness and refining me through the heat and discomfort of my life to grow closer to His heart.

I’m going to lean into my imperfections, trust His grace and ask my friends, still feeling a little bit afraid,  “How did I lead?” “What could I do differently?” My goal is no longer perfection so they’ll “keep me,” but to create a space where I can learn from my trusted friends how to love better. I’m confident He has lots to teach me, so here I go…

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