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For Leaders – Your Difference is Your Key

Deborah Stollery

“What compromises have you been making to fit into the narrow doors others have created for you?”  Read that again…DeVon Franklin, award-winning producer, best-selling author and Beliefnet’s ‘One of the Most Influential Christians Under 40’ is the source of that pithy question.  At the Global Leadership Summit he inspired and confronted us with a deep theological truth that has significant implications for leadership.  The truth:  we are all fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image and no two of us are alike.

His take-away from that?  Our difference is our destiny.  Our difference, our tiny piece of the imago Dei, is what will enable us to answer our highest purposes or calling.  Our destiny is the process we enter into to operate inside this calling…a process that requires that we listen to our spirits as we listen to the Lord’s voice.

“What compromises have you been making to fit into the narrow doors others have created for you?”  While that question reverberated inside me, he continued: difference is painful.  Keep the edges of your difference sharp.  Embrace your difference in order to walk in your destiny.  Understand who YOU are.  Do not give the “they” so much power in your life.  Avoid “sequilitis”…remakes of what’s already been done. (He’s a producer, after all!)  Embrace discomfort.  Don’t retreat.  Without discipline you cannot walk in your destiny.  Resistance can be a sign you are on the right path.

So much to consider for ecclesial leaders, especially lay ecclesial leaders.  And most especially female lay ecclesial leaders, for we are the the most “different” of all within the male celibate hierarchy entrusted with power and authority.

Embrace your difference.

Stop trying to fit in the narrow doors.

Understand who YOU are.

Resistance can be a sign of heading in the right direction.

Franklin’s inspiration and challenge is a call to two things:  reflection and action.  First, I know that I need to do the hard interior work of defining who God has created me to be and who I am in this season of my life.  Are those integrated within me?  If not, then there’s work to do.  Then I need to consider what God is calling me to do.  Is that what I am doing?  What do I need to do to walk in that destiny?  Next, I need to honestly answer the question about the compromises…honestly answer about the number of times I’ve squished myself to fit into someone else’s narrow door.  When?  How?  And most importantly, why?

Once the reflection is done, Franklin offered these steps to owning our destiny.  Time for action.  Time to:

  1. Admit I am different and that I am okay with that truth.
  2. Stop confusing someone else’s distinctiveness with my own.  I’m one-of-a-kind.
  3. Start hanging with those who encourage my uniqueness, my differentness, my destiny.  My millennial children and their friends talk about a tribe or posse.  This is what they mean:  the place where they are honored for being just who they are.
  4. Be salt and light.  Yep.  Stand out.  Stop blending in.  Become comfortable with people turning toward you, wrinkling their noses at you, telling you you are too much, too soon, too, too…salt and light feel like that to the bland and the blind.
  5. Commit to the process of living into your destiny.  In other words, keep at this work:  reflect and act.  Reflect and act.

Excruciatingly exhilarating.  Will you join me in discovering how difference IS our destiny?  Contact me and let’s serve the Lord and His beloved people as ourselves, as who God has created us to be for service here and now!  I’d love some companions on this journey.

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