Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sarah, be real.

Last week I was talking to the college group about our mission statement and checking in to see how we were doing. And then I wanted to share a vision of where I wanted to see our group go. One thing I really wanted to address was the idea of being real with other. Being REAL. Authentic. Genuine. Open. Honest. Vulnerable. Going deeper with each other. I was sharing a frustration I have when people feel they need to put on a happy face and pretend like everything's all right when they come to church. "How are you?" someone asks them. "Oh, I'm fine. How are you?" is there immediate reply. If we are truly trying to be an authentic community, we have to go deeper then that. Church should be the one place we SHOULDN'T have to act like everything is all right. It should be the one place where broken people can come together and love, encourage, and support each other during life's hard times.

I was in the middle of talking and I completely stopped. It was like a tug on my heart. A conviction. Sarah, why are you asking these students to be true and real and honest with each other when you are not doing that yourself? I had to supress that thought until I could think and process about it later. I kept on talking, but still had a hard time ignoring that conviction.

That night I thought about it when I got home. Boy, what a good, hard night. A night of realization. I was thinking back on these past 15 months I've been working in the college ministry...and how I always thought I had to act like everything was great and perfect around the students. Everytime they asked me how I was, I always smiled and said things were fine, when many times they weren't. Why have I been doing that? I think it's because I thought that's what good leaders did. Good leaders needed to have it all together. They could handle anything. People want to follow people like that, right? If I showed my struggles, they might perceive me as weak. Students don't want to follow a leader that is a mess once in awhile (or maybe more than once in awhile)...right? They have enough to deal with in their own lives. They want leaders who can provide stability and strength for them. Right!?!?

I have never taken a class or seminar on leadership. Many times I wish I had. I have to learn a lot about leadership by experience. I could probably write a book on all I've learned about leadership (mostly through mistakes). But anyway, this is something key I have been convicted about: I don't need to be perfect (or act perfect) to be a good leader. I need to be REAL. Students can't relate to a leader who doesn't seem to have struggles. But they CAN relate to a leader who goes through hard times and reaches out to people during that time for help. CONVICTION. Oh what have I been doing this whole time?

I think about my boss and how much I respect him. If he was fake around me and said he was always fine when he wasn't, I doubt I would respect him as much or see him as a great leader. But one of the things I appreciate most about him is that's he's REAL with me. When he's having a crappy day, he tells me when I ask. When he's struggling with things in life - family, finances, job, whatever - he doesn't hide it, but rather shares it and we can encourage him and pray for him. How amazing.

So from this point on, I am choosing to be real. Not that I'm going to break down and talk for a half hour about my hardships when a student asks me how I'm doing. (I have God, roomates, and friends for that) But if I want them to be honest and vulnerable with me, the least I can do is do the same. And hey, if you guys ever ask me how I'm doing, I am going to give you an honest answer. And I would hope you would do the same for me.

Come on, Sarah. Be real.


hollyannfail said...

miss marsh,
i so fully applaud you in this. the best healers are those that are up front about their own pain and lack of having it together. your life will be enriched, i promise, by continuing down this path. well done :) i love you :)

Mike said...


are you ready to get real at the xmas party? i have a gift for you! ha ha ha ha ha (evil laugh)ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Smarshie said...

M.M. I am SOOOO watching the gift you bring in so I don't choose it this year. =)