I sit on the couch with my boys looking through photo books. In this digital age, it feels old school to them, so I have to embrace feeling outdated. I try to skip to the "good" or cute photos of myself, but somehow the awkward ones seem to be the stand-outs. They point and giggle at the pictures fifth grade pictures of me with a perm in my dance costumes and the sixth grade ones of me with my head-gear and the seventh grade ones with braces. Oh, and let's not forget my high school uniform pics where I'm definitely "on-fleek". I'm not afraid to admit it's more than a little embarrassing, but I also have to admit I'm probably finding as much humor in the ancient me as they. We're pointing and giggling until tears come to our eyes, and as we do, I decide to embrace the awkward me because my super-geeky me is giving us a gift. I wouldn't trade this togetherness, these treasured moments of laughter for all the cool in the world. I don't care if I'm on-fleek. I just want to "be" with my boys and a bit of humiliation is worth the price of this bonding moment.
Saturday Night Live, The Office, 30 Something, and many entertaining comedies make money by re-enacting awkward moments. When we watch other people live these situations out, bursts of laughter uncontrollably escape our mouths. We love these moments, this humor, and find ourselves playing and re-playing, quoting and re-quoting to enjoy just one more time! And then we share it.
But, what happens when we make it personal? Do you remember walking into a room with braces for the first time? How did you feel when that guy asked you to prom, or standing on the side of the dance floor waiting for that guy or girl to dance with you? What was it like to initiate a conversation with your best friend the first time you met them? Did it make you nervous to visit your church the first time or to answer your first question in small group?
What happens when awkward visits our life story?
Standing in the chiropractor's office, my friend freaked me out with this story. When she was a teenager, some giant sea-gulls dive-bombed her family's picnic table trying to steal scraps. Screaming, she tried to flee, but her snacks fell in her lap and the birds switched their target swooping toward her belly instead. The attack left her looking for shelter.
We can feel a lot like my friend when awkward invades our life, but leaders have to learn to embrace awkward. We cannot run. We cannot hide. We cannot throw our awkward off on other people. We have to figure out how to face it, to embrace it and learn from it:
- in conflict
- in conversations
- in criticism
- in mistakes
- in our most fearful circumstances.
If we are willing to embrace, and maybe even run toward awkward, we will mature in ways we never expected. But if we avoid it, our cowardice will tarnish our ability to lead others. Leading isn't meant to be easy; it's a job full of refinement and responsibility. When I feel exasperated by the weight of leadership, I find comfort in James 1:2-4, "Consider it pure joy my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith produces perserverance. Let perseverance finish it's work so that you may be mature and complete not lacking anything."
As a leader, we cannot give up on becoming mature and complete because there are people watching us. They need to know that perseverance has value. They need to have faith not to give up. They need to know that becoming mature and complete is worth embracing the awkward and we are the ones to show them!
Who are you willing to become in order to be a faithful leader?
Will you take a minute to tell me ways you've been able to embrace awkward? Will you share with me some verses that have helped you persevere?
Praying you move forward in your faith until we talk again!