Friday, September 17, 2010

As a kid, I used to love a game called, "Follow the Leader." It was fun because everyone got to have a turn taking the group whichever way they wanted to and all I had to do was follow. In some areas of my life I am a leader and in some areas I am a follower. Both take discipline and skill. One of my dearest mentors, Susan, said something to me once that has always stuck with me. She said, "Until you learn how to follow, you will never be a great leader. The skills you will learn while following, will be the same skills you will learn to lead with." At the time I'm not sure I totally understood what she meant, but looking back I know she was absolutely right. As a follower, I had to learn to observe the leader and listen well to what they were saying. I had to be able to understand the task that was given to me and be willing to submit myself to the leader's requirements and direction. I had to learn humility, flexibility, and trust even when I thought I had a better way. Learning to submit to authority was one of the hardest lessons that I had to learn~and I had to learn it over and over again to drill it into my thick head. Leading also requires listening, observing, understanding the task at hand, being flexible, and willing to humbly submit myself to the authority, the requirements and direction of the One who is over me! As a Christian leader I cannot possibly expect anyone to follow me if I don't lead with integrity, and that only comes from following the One who is the definition of Truth. Paul said best in I Corinthians 11:1 when he said, "Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ." I mean, who could be a better example of servant leadership than Jesus? He was not only a great teacher, he was the epitome of leading by example...(Philippians 2:1-11)

I have been very blessed to have had some of the most amazing mentors throughout my life~beginning with my mom. She was, and still is the godliest woman I know. She taught me what it meant to follow hard after Christ on a daily basis...not by preaching it to me, but by living it day in and day out in the midst of life being life. My best friend, Becky, also showed me what it meant to be consistent, faithful and persevering in turbulent situations. Over the years I have watched many, many pastors, like my brother Corky, Jefferey D, Jeff P, Dar VW, Brothers Travis, Windel, and Al. They have inspired and encouraged me to become the woman of God He created me to be. Those who know me best have said that I never do anything half way. My motto is "Go Big or Go Home!" When I have a true passion for a cause, vision or out! I am unstoppable. For me a life without passion and purpose just isn't worth living. Let's face it. I'm a big hyper kid with big ideas, big dreams and a limitless God who inspires me to be better. Whether it's being an overseas worker, or a good friend to someone in need, spearheading a development project for the less fortunate, or quietly leading those around you to a deeper understanding of faith, it's important to keep your eyes, ears and heart in tune with the One who will leads you into all truth. I am determined to leave that kind of leadership legacy for the next generation. Nothing less will do.


Friday, September 10, 2010

A New Season

Wow! It's been a long time since I've updated this blog. The summer has already past and now we are in the middle of fall. Even the farmers know there's something to be said about taking a break and letting the ground lie fallow for a season. It helps the ground replenish it's nutrients and become rich again. This quiet season hasn't actually been fallow, but during all the summer busyness of traveling, studying and making connections for further projects, I have also taken a good deal of time to internally reflect about what I have learned in the past two years of living here.

In my attempt to more succinctly define my understandings of the Chinese culture, people and belief systems, (and my role here) I've had to undergo many paradigm shifts. For those of you new to that phrase, let me make this easy. When you look at the picture on the right, what do you see? A duck or a rabbit? Whatever you see, it's right! Both can be seen depending on how you look at it. A paradigm is like the model or structure that all your previous ideas have been filtered through. It comes through the paradigm of culture, education, experiences, and personal core beliefs. When I came to China my paradigms of how to live life here and interact with the Chinese were pretty much already determined. I had my ideas and a course of action. Now after two years of real life in China, my single vision "paradigm" lenses seem to have been replaced by bifocals, enabling me to see much more clearly from close up and far away. My paradigms have shifted. Perhaps the reason my thoughts and ideas are changing is because China is changing so fast. The name of the game here is flexibility. It is important to be both grounded in non-negotiable truths and flexible enough in your thinking to allow for those truths to be expressed in a culturally relevant way while still maintain their integrity. Sound complicated? It is...but it's no different in the West! I'm serious! Things are not traditional there anymore either. It takes a lot of creativity and flexibility to relate to people who don't have any frame of reference for dialoguing with you on the deeper issues of life. This much I do know. Truth doesn't change but expressions and forms expressing those truths will always be changing. We have so many traditions and sacred cows; ways we are convinced are "right" when the truth is, they are probably greatly influenced by our culture and history. I think our friend Paul said it best in (I Cor. 9:19-23) when he said, "I have become all things to all people.... Living truth with integrity is not an easy task and I am humbled by the challenge to do it in China. I also know this. China is changing me as I have a role in changing China. Maybe this is what's actually mean in the Lord's Prayer when it says, Thy Kingdom Come. When that day arrives there will be no "them or us" no "Western way or Chinese way" there will only be one way-His Way! And I think we all might be surprised at what that might look like. :)