Have you ever pondered what your life would be like 5 years or even 10 years from now? Have you ever wondered what life would be if you decided to walk a different path or listen to that one friend’s advice?
Moreover, have you ever looked back and wondered how you got to the place you are standing right now? Or maybe you wonder where God has gone, why you’ve ended up in this place and what the purpose of it all is. Well…that has been my entire experience during my time in Lesotho, Africa. The place I would never guessed I would be standing in a million years, but as I stood at the top of the mountain and looked out into the valleys and villages below…I was standing exactly where God positioned me to be. His presence ever so near, His breath in my lungs, and His heart beating in my chest.
Being a writer who loves the magic of words and how they knit together to tell the stories of our lives, I’ll be honest…in this moment, I don’t have the words to express all that I want to tell you no matter how many times I have gone to write this post over and over again. I could tell you how I was given a Sosotho name “Lehakoe,” (Leh-hawk-way), which means precious stone or something that you love with your whole heart and cherish. I could tell you the stories of the 10 days we spent with host families in rural villages and townships and how I learned how to slaughter and clean a chicken…(her name was Petunia, we ate breakfast together, and she fed our family well).
…or I can tell you how Rapunzel and her skillet has nothing on Megan Millar and all the things you can use a bucket for and if you’re wondering what that entails then I will just let you know, yes…I used it…for that and emptied it every morning…amongst many, many, many other things. Not going to lie though, for whatever reason and only God truly knows why, I became so proud and found so much joy in walking to our deep hole outhouse emptying my bucket every morning. I would strut my way to my deep hole and think to myself, “Huh, never thought this would happen, but look at me now! I am so proud of me!”
Moreover, I could tell you how I ate pap and moroho just about every day during that time or I could share about our time at Growing Nations. How we learned all about farming God’s way by building and flipping compost piles, harvesting fields, transplanting vegetable gardens into fresh soil, pruning plants, doing maintenance, morning devotions alongside staff and resident students, sharing our hearts for the Lord, and best of all sharing the gospel, singing songs, and playing games with the local school children who would come to play almost everyday.
I could tell you about the sunrise that would black out the view of the mountains but reveal the villages and farmland in the valleys below or how the sunsets set the mountains ablaze each evening. What if I told you about how the lights from the villages on the mountain side made it appear as if the starry night sky was within your reach as you stood under a night sky that revealed multiple galaxies above you to glorious to even be captured in a photo.
It would probably take a pot of coffee and a full day’s worth of conversation to share everything and to answer every question you would have to follow. These last 5 weeks, have been journey that has grown me in ways that I never thought possible, has tested me and pushed me to my limit, its brought me to the end of myself and back again, and yet when I reflect back on my time in The Kingdom of Lesotho, and try to put into words this Kingdom in the Clouds and how this place and people has impacted me, I am left speechless. Something that is very rare for me as I have my family’s story telling gene and am one to talk so much I can probably make friends with a brick wall and find out it’s life story.
So…In view of this debacle I am having with my words and the various stories here is a story and a lesson that God not only placed own my heart, but walked me through:
The true role of leadership…Every one wants the stage. The platform. The position. Everyone wants the glory of what it takes to be a leader. The authority. The “divine call,” so to speak. But heavy is the head that wears the crown.
Leadership is so much more than the position or job title and if that is what you are seeking then you are seeking the wrong thing. Leadership is the empathy that comes with meeting each individual where they are at even when you may not understand. To equip a person and do everything you can to protect them and guide them yet they are “strong enough,” to handle it on their own and the wisdom to come behind them once again to fix what was done with grace and patience. To stay up late until they can finally fall asleep. To curl up in bed and do everything possible to take away their stomach pain and pray for them until they finally fall asleep. To break down walls slowly but surely as you give space in times of stress, but pray for breakthrough. To have tough enough skin that the comments roll off your back and you keep pushing forward. To do what you know is right even if everyone has their own opinion and fights against you. To advocate and speak up for your people even when they don’t know about it. To eat the most so they don’t have to or eat the least so that they are full. To do what is unseen and not get the credit.
To pray. To pray everyday and surrender everything you have to the lord. To set yourself aside and allow God to use you as a vessel and speak with wisdom and kindness.
Many desire the job, but many only seek the title. Leadership is not positional it’s relational. Leadership is not always knowledge but wisdom. It doesn’t look for the highest level of maturity but those who are willing to serve in humility. To lower themselves not in submission or out of fear, but with willingness to learn, to grow, and the knowledge of where their feet are planted. To be rooted in scripture so that when the storm comes you can’t be shaken. To make up for mistakes and take blame even when the blame isn’t yours. The late nights the early mornings. The endless prayers and conversations. To share ones heart without fear and trust that a seed is planted.
As I looked at myself in the mirror, I used to be the girl who would look away as I would find every flaw that was wrong with myself physically, spiritually, and mentally and hide behind it. It was my limitation and for the longest time stepping out in faith was my greatest fear. I can honestly say that after Lesotho…it’s not that I’m a new person…I’ve just come into myself and found the fit I have been searching for within myself. The bold, courageous, woman of God who is fearless because of her Father. One who is so rooted in scripture that when the storm comes, I’m not shaken, but I REMEMBER. Every time I would start to worry or doubt, REMEMBER. In moments where I would start to lose trust, REMEMBER. REMEMBER the promises that God has made. How he has answered the desires of my heart and now I’ve been called to patience. Patience for what it to come and learning to grow where I’m planted. To cling to His words, His voice, and His scripture. To rebuke what comes against me and allow Hod to replace it with His opposite. To rely on the power of prayer, seek scripture, and worship through each moment of loneliness or spiritual battle. To find breath in simply sitting with the Lord. To not talk so much or focus on searching scripture or shouting praises, but to just sit in the midst of His creation and feeling His presence with every breeze or take in His warmth from the sun.
As it says in Psalm 77:
I cried out to God for help;
I cried out to God to hear me.
2 When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands,
and I would not be comforted.
3 I remembered you, God, and I groaned;
I meditated, and my spirit grew faint.[b]
4 You kept my eyes from closing;
I was too troubled to speak.
5 I thought about the former days,
the years of long ago;
6 I remembered my songs in the night.
My heart meditated and my spirit asked:
7 “Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
8 Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
9 Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?”
10 Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
12 I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.
15 With your mighty arm you redeemed your people,
the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.
16 The waters saw you, God,
the waters saw you and writhed;
the very depths were convulsed.
17 The clouds poured down water,
the heavens resounded with thunder;
your arrows flashed back and forth.
18 Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind,
your lightning lit up the world;
the earth trembled and quaked.
19 Your path led through the sea,
your way through the mighty waters,
though your footprints were not seen.
I remember. As I cried out in prayer I remembered. As I was about to lose all hope, I remembered. Throughout these last 5 weeks, I didn’t have to go on a journey to find who I am or even find the type of leader I was. I’ve always known who I am, I’ve known the strength that lived inside of me, the call that was placed on my life, and the authority I had been privileged and honored with to lead this group of 13 amazing individuals…The only difference is, now I’ve accepted it. I am far from perfect, but I am not far from grace.
In South Africa I learned to stand…in Lesotho, I learned to soar.