My husband is a born leader. Me? Not so much. Men would follow him into battle. I’d be lucky if someone followed me to the ice cream shop. I’m not a natural leader. I keep to myself most of the time. You see, I’m an individual who loves alone time. I look forward to it. I daydream about it right smack-dab in the middle of a crowd. I breathe it in deeply when it finally arrives. I actually need it- it’s how I recharge.
It is also how I liked to work. In school, I loathed group projects. (Anyone else feeling this?) I liked to do it my way, in my time, and to whatever detail I desired. I suppose you’ve guessed by now that, in spite of my intense enjoyment of public speaking and acting, I am your quintessential introvert. And I believe, this is true of many of us gals who happen to be marital-ly yoked to a pastor.
Being an introvert is not a bad thing at all. It is how God made us, and there are some lovely things that we introverts bring to the table.
However, one thing that I have learned over the years is that the Christian life, even for us introverts, is not meant to be lived alone. God created us for fellowship. We were made to labor together, to bear burdens other than our own. In fact, when it comes to service, He even went so far as to present the example of the church as one body. That means every person is important and can better accomplish what the head of the body directs when they do it along with other members of the body.
One of the biggest mistakes I made in the early years of ministry was in this area. For years, I would try to do it all, and I would try to do it all alone: set up a banquet, a ladies class, office work… I was not organized and couldn’t decide when I would be working on a project- often it might be last minute and into the late hours of the night. That was fine by me. I watched as my husband “the administrator” gave others opportunities to serve in areas that they were gifted in…and all are gifted in some way, ladies. The Lord doesn’t leave a single child out when it comes to this. Yet, often, we don’t know (or don’t seek to find out) where other’s giftedness lies and falsely believe that maybe they just don’t have “it” or that it is all up to us. Doing it ourselves is the way to get things done.
And that is where we are wrong, because God’s work is about people not programs.
What really changed my thinking in this area was getting a chance to view examples of this principle up close as I spoke at two different ladies events.
The first conference went spectacularly well. It was a terrific theme, wonderful turn out, and thanks to the grace of God the speaker was ok, too. ☺
The pastor’s wife hosting this conference was very much like myself- a perfectionist and a hard worker- though many years my senior. I looked forward to getting to learn from her. And I truly did, just not in the way I expected.
She was doing it all. She had worked and worked and was completely exhausted before the conference even began. Ladies in the church shared concern for her with me in regards to her load. I watched as she rushed about doing “things” as women who loved her and wanted to chat with her watched her scurry by. (Perhaps the idea of “not knowing what to say” seemed more exhausting than the endless tasks that she attended to. As a quiet natured girl myself, I could relate.)
The conference continued and at the end, we had a powerful testimony time. God had moved among His women! It was after the prayer for dismissal, that her exhaustion fizzled out into stress, and she met me with tears apologizing for some minor things that she didn’t feel went well. She was convinced that the conference was a failure on her part. I promise you that not one lady there was disappointed in that conference, and I certainly wasn’t. I remember feeling so badly for her, and feeling a bit awkward trying to console her. She was missing out on rejoicing in what God had just done and had missed out on just enjoying it with the ladies of her church. I will likely never forget those tired tears. I feel certain that if she had had some rest, she would have been able to view things more clearly. I got on my plane to head home still in wonder from that tearful encounter. I felt like Ebenezer Scrooge standing in dread as he looked at his Christmas future, and just like Scrooge I decided then and there that I must change. I would by God’s help learn to lead and involve other women in His work.
The other example came a few months later from a pastor’s wife just 10 months my senior. She also happens to be one of my dearest friends. (That’s why I had to mention that she is my senior. I will be mentioning that more and more the older we get!) I traveled out to speak for a ladies event for her as well. She is much like my husband- a great leader- perhaps that’s why we’ve always hit it off so well. I arrived there eager to see my friend who lives so far away, but I was also ready to work. I knew with an event ahead there would be lots to do! Well, much to my surprise she was as cool as a cucumber when I got there. If she was stressed, the incomparable Sherlock Holmes himself could not have detected a smidge of it upon her! She took me out for dinner that night. We laughed and laughed as we caught up. She hosted me all that evening. The next morning we arrived at the church early, and I realized why she was so at ease. She had worked hard with the ladies of her church early on. She had assigned them some tasks and led them in preparing many things beforehand. The things that still needed to be done were all being taken care of by various ladies whom she had met with and delegated those things to. I was able to go to a room to study and pray while she worked calmly in completing these things and then was ready to greet the ladies as they arrived. I watched in awe and tried to learn.
When we were able to host our first out of town ladies speaker a year later at our own ladies event at Southern Hills, she happened to be one of my heroes of the faith. I remembered my friend’s brilliant example and scheduled everything that could be done early to be done early. I enlisted a team to take on tasks with team leaders directing others and working with me to bring it all together. I went home to be with my family in the evenings rather than pulling all nighters working on last minute projects by myself. I even wrote out a schedule of what I would be doing at what time with our speaker. I had so looked forward to just being around her and learning from her. I thank God that He allowed me to have those hours with her.
After hosting her the previous evening and all that morning, I had scheduled a few hours to go to the church before the conference to finish up anything that was still undone. It was all done. There was nothing more to do. So I went home and took a one hour nap. I TOOK A NAP!!! BEFORE A LADIES EVENT!!! Do you hear me? This was only possible because I learned to delegate and organize. This is not who I am. Ask my husband, my college roommates, or any of my highschool teachers! They will tell you the truth- Heather Cordes Teis is naturally a procrastinating perfectionist. This moment of growth was life-changing for me.
So over the next few blogs, I hope to share with you, my friends in ministry, a few things that I have learned and am learning about leading! And believe me, if the Lord can teach this hopeless daughter, He can teach anyone. ☺