Have you ever had to fight off a lot of fear to do something?
I'm having to fight off fear to write this post. Everything in my head says, "Don't write it, it's too vulnerable." Here's why: April is always a hard month for me. In the fall I coach football and the ministry year kicks off so I'm with a lot of people and there's a lot of short term projects (or football games) to strategize and work through. Lots of little victories to keep things moving.
Then there's the spring. 90% of the time I work in my basement, alone, with a single window.
Here in Missouri the winters suck. The winters are cold and it snows a lot. It's often dreary and of course with the time change when the sun is out it doesn't stick around very long. Then, I have two very stressful events happening for the non-profit I work for both depending on if people sign up. I have no control over people making them sign up, I just have to do the work and hope they sign up. In the Christian world we call this faith...I think.
This is the hard to write honest part. I think I deal with a little depression every spring. It just slowly sneaks up on me and then there are the lies I start to believe. April arrives and I want to step away from leading. Mix the lies with the loneliness and the challenges of the spring and I start dreaming of corporate role with a guaranteed monthly salary.
But. This year I have done a better job naming the lies that hold me captive. And I'm going to share the lies even though I think they make me look like a horrible person. Yet, I know we each have our lies that get the best of us. Leaders are average people who are willing. There's nothing special about any of us and all of us face lies in our leadership.
So here are the three lies my heart loves.
1. People will want to help because they care for me - I'm starting here because it's been the hardest lie to talk myself out of. When you're an organizational leader people are involved because of the organization's cause. A leader defines the cause but the leader isn't the cause. Shockingly, it took me many years to recognize the narcism behind this thought. It's like saying, "Everyone wants to serve me right?" Or, "So no one cares enough to serve me?" As you can see this is a lie my heart believed as I was trying to do servant leadership. And the worst result from this lie is when a leader finds someone who is willing to serve them. These people become idols and we put high levels of trust in people with their own issues.
2. I have a right to be angry - Anger is a byproduct of pride and pride is equivalent to how much value we think we should have. The times I get the most angry with people I think, "Don't they know what I'm sacrificing for them?" And, "If they knew how hard I work at this." And, "It must be nice to not care as much as they do." Aren't those ugly thoughts? What a self righteous jerk. Oh, but I've thought them. And I give myself the right to be angry, the right to hold a grudge, and the right to exclude. So pretty much I'm saying I did anything but lead people because of a lie I believed.
3. Enough money solves everything - Comfort. This is what I've been asking for when I believe this lie. I want to be comfortable with how much money I make in a month. I want to be comfortable with how much revenue our organization has. I want to be comfortable with how others will see our organization as successful because we have a lot of money. I don't want to be misunderstood on the topic of money, I think money is a good thing and it does have a place of value in our lives and in our organizations. But there is always a cost. I'll say that again, there is always a cost. And for me this was the white rabbit I always assumed would be fulfilling once I caught it. Once I caught it I took inventory and realized other things were suffering and they were things with value far greater than money. This is the preverbal lie in non-profit leadership, enough money will solve everything.
There they are. Those are the ugly lies that role around in my head and heart. I'm still not sure if this post is brave or stupid but the goal is to be willing to recognize the lies I tell myself. Our society believes its noble to suffer for a cause but in this case, the cause is my pride. And as much as I think I'm the one suffering, it's really everyone else who has to suffer through putting up with me.
Sometimes I can't help but wonder if the difference between us being awesome and us being average are the lies we tell ourselves.
So what about you? If you'd like to chance to name your lies, give it a go in the comment box. I promise not to think you're not for me if you don't comment!
Happy May Day friends!