I recently shared this post with our Pastor’s wives as we seek to lead well, but I believe it applies to all of us as we lead in our various areas of influence. Who do people say you are?
“One time when Jesus was off praying by himself, his disciples nearby, he asked them, “What are the crowds saying about me, about who I am?” Luke 9:18 MSG
Ever wonder what people are saying about you? I can remember a time where wondering what people were saying about me consumed my every thought. Do they like me? Do they think what I say is stupid? Do they respect me? Do they even notice me at all? All of these thoughts, and more, would take me over, and what I became was nothing like myself, but rather became who they wanted me to be.
Jesus, too, asked His disciples, “What are the crowds saying about me?” The disciples answered replied with very literal answers… Elijah…John the Baptizer…a prophet from long ago. In very Jesus form, however, he was challenging the disciples to think about who they are, what things will define them and how are they setting themselves a part.
Very recently, I shared with someone that my story is characterized by pain. I used to feel like every time I spoke of the pain people must be going, “OK, now, enough. Don’t want to hear it.” That could be very true if I stayed rooted in the pain and never moved passed it, but as Jesus points out in this very passage, we are ALL going to have suffering. He told the disciples He, himself, was about to go on a journey of suffering…a journey intended to show us how to lead well and love well.
Then he told them what they could expect for themselves: “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat-I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how.” Luke 9:23 MSG
How often we run from suffering, pain, and discomfort? We live in an “easy life” society, doing whatever it takes to ensure an easy road for ourselves and our children. None of that is bad, but if it keeps us from giving Him the lead in our lives, we miss out on a full life.
“Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?” Luke 9:24b, 25 MSG
Who do people say that you are? Do people look at your life and see a life characterized by your circumstance and only your circumstance? Or, do they see a life that has endured suffering in various forms, but a woman who has risen above? Do they even know you’ve embraced suffering, or have you kept your story to yourself? Ladies, as we lead others, without a doubt, we will experience suffering. God often allows it so that we can lead others well. Leading them will require a degree of vulnerability, though. People are watching us, whether we like it or not. They see we go through “stuff.” They look for how we respond to “stuff.”
I’ve faced “stuff” a lot that has seriously challenged my resolve and shaken me, and yes, hurt me. It’s made me mad. It’s made me sad. It’s made me feel alone. I could’ve stayed there, and trust me, I almost wanted to stay there rather than deal with it. Others, however, were waiting on me to respond…watching to see if I lashed out, or if I showed grace. Recently, the way I chose to respond was the way of grace. It was hard. I didn’t even get the reaction I had hoped for going the way of grace, but God showed me how to respond. He led the way. He was in the driver’s seat.
Who’s driving your car? Who’s writing your story? Are your circumstances defining you, or are they refining you?
“I’ve told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I’ve conquered the world.”John 16:33
So, in the words of Bonnie Raitt, “Let’s give ‘em somethin’ to talk about…a little mystery to figure out!”