Finding the Gold

Starting a Journey
Over the last few years, the Lord has taught me about the importance of being a leader in different capacities of life. Honestly, it’s not a role I ever

aspired to become or wanted. Maybe that’s why He continuously draws me to do it? The role of a leader is a continuation of a theme in my life to become more engaged with a community of believers, understand the value of getting involved in messy relationships, and embody the call to build each other up. The goal of sharing my journey is to inspire you, fellow future and current leaders, to “find the gold” (recognize and encourage the strengths of others around you within your sphere(s) of influence).

About five years ago, I was living within my fairly comfortable bubble of shy introversion. I had the same small group of friends and the same familiar routines of life; but, as is often the case, God had other plans. That was about the same timeframe I began going to a new church and shortly after God had intervened in very real way in my life. God was setting me up for growth and self-discovery in ways that I could have never imagined.

Becoming a Spiritual Mother

My new church became home for me. It’s my family. I can’t imagine being anywhere else. It’s where I first encountered other people who are sensitive to the voice and move of the Presence of God and obediently respond. It was also where I was first called a “spiritual mother” (the first role of leadership that God would quickly instill and develop within me). The person who gave me that informal title was a young leader within my church; but, when he said the words to me — “God is growing you as a ‘spiritual mother’ and your husband as a ‘spiritual father'” — I laughed. I thought at the time he was mistaken. I told myself I didn’t have the personality to raise up other people, nor did I want to do it. I was not a mentor or a coach. But God was speaking truth to me through that church leader that day. His words spoke to the deepest parts of my heart, and he was absolutely right. God was about to show me the awakening of my true identity.

Awaking the Passion of Discipleship

The same year I joined my new church, I had the amazing honor of mentoring a close friend who was a new follower of Jesus. I had no idea where to even begin growing someone else in their spiritual walk, but the more I asked the Lord to guide our daily interactions, the more He provided opportunities. As a result, we both grew; and I discovered a passion for teaching about the Word of God and discipling others.

Shepherding and Coaching

A year later, I became a supervisor in a new career. Supervision wasn’t something I looked for, but it was something that found me at the right time. I agreed to do it, knowing it was

going to challenge me in uncomfortable ways. I had to be assertive and confident. It demanded the best qualities from me: grace and mercy; tenderness; modeling the right attitudes and responses to difficult situations; dealing with conflict; working alongside my employees and serving their needs; but, most importantly, shepherding and coaching.

In the moments when I felt like I was failing, God used my manager who hired me to push me further. She saw the gold within me and knew what I could become. Over the next three years, I grew into the role until finally one day, I felt like I was beginning to understand the most basic levels what being a leader actually meant.

Leading Others through Worship

The past two years have rapidly accelerated the growing process for becoming a leader. I left my supervisor job for a different role that no longer required the management of people. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved. Supervising people can be tough! But if I thought I was done with leading, I was

mistaken. Again, God had other plans.
I joined the temporary choir we had a church for about a year (our praise band took a temporary hiatus). I never sang in front of other people before that point. A few months later, I was asked to lead worship for a few songs. The act of leading worship radically shifted my perception of how to guide others into an encounter with the living God through words and songs.

The year before I joined the choir, I had a dream about singing and leading worship at church in the setting of a worship team. I truly believe the Lord was using that dream to prepare my heart and teach me boldness for the next step — co-leading worship as part of our newly revived praise band. What an immense blessing it is to see other people connecting with God in their own ways as they sing with us. It will mess you up in all sorts of good ways to see people singing their hearts out, crying, and praying during worship. It’s all for the glory of God, and has very little to do with me. I would not consider my singing particularly remarkable. I just have to be obedient, and God will use it.

Putting it All Together

Most recently, God provided opportunities to lead other young leaders within a small group and within my other spheres of influence.

The Lord is using the skills of leadership He’s been honing within me for the benefit of the Kingdom of God and the building of leaders. He’s showing me how to find the other “king makers” (leaders who raise up leaders) and to recognize the gold hidden within others and draw it out. I am a spiritual mother. I am a mentor. I am a shepherd. I am a worship leader.

Is God speaking to you about fulfilling the role of leadership? I challenge you to look for the gold in people in your life. Ask the Lord how you can encourage or disciple someone He highlights in your life.

Powerful, godly leaders leave a lasting influence and legacy on others the people around them. May you leave an imprint on others that lasts for generations even if no one remembers your name.

Love,
Heather

Unity

Many times, as believers, we have the tendency to divide ourselves even though Jesus emphasized the importance of unity in the body of Christ (John 17:20-26).  We disagree about denominations, interpretations of Scripture, worship music, the way we dress, whether to raise hands or clap, and all sorts of other things.  Yes, we are different, but we should celebrate our differences.

I have been in church most of my life. When I graduated from my elementary public school, my parents enrolled me in a private Christian school, which began my journey with God and changed my life forever.  The school was associated with an on-premises traditional Baptist church.  I spent many years in that church, and it became my comfortable, small view of God and expectations about how the people of God should act. I knew there were other churches and denominations out there, but I was a little suspicious of them.  They seemed weird to me — especially those “Holy Ghost” churches where people speak in tongues, believe in healings, and believe God works actively in the lives of people today.  I’m not trying to suggest that Baptists believe other denominations are strange or wrong.  This was just my personal understanding at the time because it was the only true exposure to God I had.  At the time, I was satisfied with simply believing in a Savior who loved me enough to save me from my sins, my failures, and from the depths of hell.  I still don’t believe there’s anything wrong with this view.  I was in a different place of my life then, and it has taught me how to understand that other people around me may be at different levels of understanding, and that’s perfectly okay. None of us will completely understand God until after we leave this earth anyway!

As the years passed, I visited a Lutheran church with my grandfather, went to a few Christmas services with my family at an Episcopal church, went to Bible school during the summer at a Presbyterian church, and eventually regularly attended a Catholic church during the summer with my boyfriend in my early college years.  When I began dating the man I now call my husband, we attended his family’s Presbyterian church and eventually moved to a Southern Baptist church.  Now, we attend a small, non-denominational church.  I love experiencing all the different flavors of Christianity, and I’m extremely thankful for the revelations of God I received with each visit.  I have begun realizing my God is likely much bigger than I could ever understand.  I also have begun to realize people experience God in different ways; and, as long as what they do is Scripturally-based, I can agree with them no matter how different they are from me.  But I didn’t feel this way right away. It has been a slow progression of enlightenment and understanding that each member of the body serves a unique purpose.  God celebrates the different functions of a unified body; and, therefore, I feel we are called to do the same (1 Corinthians 12:12)

One of the many differences we should celebrate, for example, is the fact some churches are passionate about international missions and ministries in particular countries, other churches support varying international communities, while others feel a call to support missions and ministries in their home country, state, or local community. We are all called to fulfill the Great Commission, and I think it’s beautiful that we all hear that call in different ways. What better way to immerse the earth in His love (Matthew 28:16-20)

Another difference that seems to heavily divide the body is the denominational lines, especially among structured and unstructured churches.  Does it really matter whether we’re part of a church that believes in speaking in tongues or a church that believes in the holiness of God to such a degree that they don’t clap in services?  I don’t think so, and I don’t think one version of worship is better than the other.  Some people, I suppose, would disagree with me, but who am I to judge what “flavor” is better?  I believe there are plenty of on-fire Christians who deeply love Christ and the people around them, but they may worship in a manner I would call quiet or reserved.  I will respect the fact they commune with God, even if it’s different from me.

One of the greatest barriers to talking to non-believers about Christ is our lack of unity.  I pray that God will use you to show grace and love to your neighbor and unity with the Body.  God has given us the ability to change how others perceive Christianity.  In Christ’s name, you hold the keys to change the minds and hearts about how people encounter Christ which is a wonderful honor – not a burden.  Let’s rejoice and celebrate and embrace each other as brothers and sisters because at the end of this life, love is the only thing that truly matters.