Where has the time gone? How have I somehow made it through a year of leading a small group, when each step of the way was a struggle? And now, I feel like I am being pulled in a different direction. How can I let this go, this thing that has slowly become a part of who I am. I don’t introduce myself as “Lindsay Yates: Small Group Leader,” but I feel like being a leader in the church has affected every other part of my life.
It changed what I look for in a guy. I now know that if I am dating someone that has an aversion towards leaders, or any negative sensitivity towards being led by someone, I cannot be in a relationship with him. I respect leaders, and have a heart for them. They are thrown in the gauntlet, and are expected to come out on the other side not only intact, but still maintaining their integrity. How could I partner with someone who does not respect this amazing way to serve?
It changed the friendships that I had. I found out very quickly which friends I had that were loyal and that loved me with Christ’s love. I made mistakes, like every new and seasoned leader would. But what I saw is that sometimes people treat your mistakes differently if you are in a leadership role. I think that some of this has to do with how public our mistakes can be, but also because when you are a leader, your choices affect the people you lead- and can hurt them, even if you don't mean to.
It changed how I view leaders. I used to look at leaders as flawless. I mean, how did they get the position they were in if they still made mistakes? I felt that this disqualified me as a leader, and was blown away when I was asked to step up into a leadership role. Being on this side of leadership, I found out quickly that we are all in process, and that God chooses people for their heart for him- not for their holiness. Before actually leading a small group, I never saw David and Moses as leaders. I only saw them as examples of flawed people that God chose to use in spite of their sin. Now I see them as men who struggled, but that God saw leadership on them- no matter what they saw.
It changed how I deal with money. I found very quickly that I was held to a higher standard in all aspects of my life. How can I point people to Christ if I myself didn’t have a healthy relationship with money? To have an idol in my life was to say “this is more powerful, more important than God.” I feared money. Sometimes, I still do. I let money control my emotions, I believe that money takes care of me, and I give it more power than it truly has. Being in leadership has showed me over time that by having money as an idol, I am limiting the ways that God is able to use me, as well as living in a state of fear and anxiety.
It changed my relationship with God. I have never been more desperate for God than leading a group of my peers towards a closer relationship with Jesus. There were alot of good times, but among the negative- I have felt isolated and alone, judged, ridiculed, and gossiped about. I have felt completely out of my element and scared to death that I would fall flat on my face. I have known for the past year that there is nothing within me that could successfully lead or co-lead a group apart from any tools God would give me. Now I see that because of what God has gifted me with, and how He sustains me, I am able to do more than I ever thought or imagined.
And here I am now, a year later, wondering if I had the chance and knew exactly how hard it was going to be… would I do it all again? If someone told me last April that I would lose friends, and go through a battle of “I know I need to do this- that God is asking me to- but I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t feel like I am strong enough and I am weary,” I am not sure that I would have made the same choice. I would like to think that I am tough and strong. But if someone recited all that would happen in the past year, it would probably scare me off. I would probably make some excuses as to why I can't lead and put myself out there.
I'm glad I didn't know. I'm glad I put myself out there. I'm glad that a year later, I have had all the experiences that I have.