Stepping Down, Speaking Up
I used to spend a lot of time pretending I knew what was best for people.
I rose up various leadership structures in my small circles in high school and college. I won some awards, was offered the opportunities I worked hard for, and began to experience the influence I wanted.
Then came the waves of trying to keep that power. I followed rules with the intention of enforcing them for the next generation. I learned the right answers with finesse. I felt threatened when other people got ahead of me. I thought there was some holiness in all of that.
This isn’t saying I was a poor leader or didn't gain anything. I’ve got a mind wired for creative strategy and I was born with a good dose of Getting Things Done. I love organization, production, connections, solving problems and coaching people. I learned amazing skills from those leadership experiences and built some quality relationships that sustain me today.
But so much of that
leadership model was control-based and authority-driven. Power was the
commodity and when I joined in those systems, I did it so I could get as
much as possible. I see now that I was driven by my past experience of powerlessness, but that doesn't excuse my behavior. The people in those systems took and traded and used
far too much manipulation to keep control. It damaged me. I turned
around all of my fears and hurt other people. I used my gifts to stay likable but in charge.
The past few years I’ve been through the pain of disenchantment, giving it all up, making amends, and building something new, which means I have a lot to say about that process.
But part of me worries that I am going to get into in that damaging power-suck again.
I’m speaking up. And people are noticing.
I close my eyes and I see platforms, opportunities, places to use my abilities and energy. It’s exciting. This is what I’ve always wanted: to participate in these conversations as a thinker, explorer, creator and person trying to follow Jesus. I want to embrace it and work harder and learn more and celebrate my success. I like this idea of writing a public blog.
But I don’t want to do that at your expense. I’m not going to speak up like I can be better at your life than you. I don’t think you should give me your power.
I see the power of celebrity, in my culture and in Christianity, and I’m unbelievably attracted and repulsed. Because I see myself on both sides.
It is habitual for me to offer up my power to someone else and sacrifice my ability to hear God at the feet of the latest wave of truth. It is so much easier to be told exactly what to do so that we can get what we want than to wrestle with the pain of not being in charge. Formulas will always attract me; I'm really really good at them.
I also feel
that desire to work the system at your expense. It doesn’t take much to call yourself an expert on the internet, and I can see you offering me your hurting places, asking me to help. I want to help. I want to be the expert.
All of this scares me. But
in the past three years of my disillusionment and spiritual recovery, I’ve
learned that naming things is a good way to start. The practice of honesty is
vital to my continued well-being.
So here I am, saying that I
am afraid of success and suspicious of power. I will not pretend that I have
power over you because I have a blog. I am pretty much only an expert at my own
life, and even that is a constant failing and learning process. I have oh so
very many things to say and think about in this space, and it is time, but I
want to step down from being your authority figure. I have most of the same hurts and they still burn. I don't have everything I want or the patience to see that lack as much of a gift.
Here's my new blog. My friend Darrell made it and it's pretty cool, no? But I want to invite you into this space
as my equal. I will try not to pretend with you and I trust that you will not try to take advantage of me. It's about to get noisy.
Let's all speak up.