Like the personality test said, I am not a natural leader; I am a follower. But in following Christ, I learned to lead.
by Becky Arganbright
I am not a leader, I’m a follower by nature. I’m usually the last to volunteer or speak up in a group. I play things safe. I even took one of those personality tests that confirmed my followership: “Reserved, quiet, and will most likely follow rather than lead” is what it said in black and white. And I was ok with that. Let the leaders lead; they’re good at it, and they seem to like it anyway, is how I would rationalize it.
Yet, I am learning that when you are a Christian, you are a leader. And if you’re living your Christian life as you’re called to, then most likely, God has asked you to lead at some point of your life.
The time when God asked me to “step up and lead” happened this past summer. My family and I just moved from a small town to an even smaller town, with an equally small Catholic church. The church was a close-knit community, which, coming from a much larger church, I appreciated. Every new member was noticed and welcomed with open arms.
But as friendly as this church was, it didn’t have any groups to join. I was used to having many options of prayer groups and ministries to choose from, and I wished that my new church had some sort of prayer group. After much stalling, I decided to muster up my courage and present my idea to the parish priest, Fr.Mike, about the possibility of the church starting a Women’s Prayer group. He was very receptive, and his eyes lit up when I presented my idea. But then he got down to business and began to ask me a series of questions: What would be the purpose of this prayer group? How many times would we meet and where? What sort of prayers was I thinking this group would have? What would the format be like? Where did I feel the Holy Spirit was leading me?
Whoa, I thought. I was only offering the idea–I wasn’t volunteering to actually create the prayer group! I was not the “leader type” and did not want to be. I didn’t want the responsibility of a prayer group or picking prayers or trying to create a format. I didn’t want to be the one leading the group in prayer or making decisions. The very idea made me sweat. I did not want to lead and so I shut the door on the very possibility that God could be asking me to lead.
We admire the saints because they were leaders, and they did courageous and seemingly impossible things. Yet, not all of the saints were natural-born leaders. The children of Fatima, for instance, were just children. Yet God used them to lead the world to the Immaculate Heart. St.Faustina, a simple and ordinary nun, was used to introduce the world to the Divine Mercy. And we can’t forget St. Joan of Arc—a mere farm girl—who would lead an army of men to fight England. God can do anything with the simple, the ordinary, the giftless, the unorganized, and even the unholy, if only we let Him! But first we must say yes, and be willing to lead!
Easier said than done, I will admit. I can’t say I exactly jumped on board with the idea of creating a prayer group. To be completely honest, it took me nearly a year to finally get around to it. But as time went on, people kept asking me when the prayer group would start. Every so often, Fr.Mike would check in as well. It was obvious that they were expecting me to follow through with this prayer group. And it became increasingly obvious that God was asking me to as well.
The Sacraments of my Baptism and Confirmation is I found the courage I needed in order to do what I felt God was asking. God already knew what I was lacking when He asked me to lead, and He gave an abundance of strength to make up for my weakness. I needn’t have feared; He never intended that I take it on alone. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Like St.Paul, (who was also initially a follower before he became a leader), I had to first stop looking to myself for something that just wasn’t in me: leadership. I had to first follow Christ. And it was in learning to “leave all and follow Him” that I discovered that I too, am called to lead.
With much prayer for discernment, wisdom and courage, I gathered together prayers, a format and a group of women who were eager for prayer and fellowship. And with the blessing of the priest, we had our first prayer group on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
As the women waited for me to start the prayers, I bowed my head to thank God for the chance to work outside my comfort zone. It is amazing to find out who will follow you, if you pray for the grace to lead.