As a leader have you ever been in the situation where a person knows your name and this is the first time you have met them face to face? Have you every introduced yourself and when you said where you worked the other person nodded like they knew the church or ministry? Have you ever been in a situation where you are presenting to a room full of people and as they all leave they tell you they enjoyed your talk but you have no idea who any of them are? Have you ever been in a meeting and the person running the meeting turns to you specifically to ask you your opinion? If you have been in any of these situations then it seems you might be a “somebody”.
It seems that as leaders, especially in ministry, we can be known by more people than we know.
I always thought that I lead with humility but since being on sabbatical for the past four months it seems that I had come to expect that people knew who I was. There is a little bit of pride in me every time somebody knows who I am, it tells me that I am important. I like being in a room full of leaders and the facilitator turning to me to ask for my opinion. Whilst I thought that I handled it well, be in a new city where nobody knew me, it taught me there is a little bit of pride and arrogance in me.
Being a “Nobody”
Over the past four months nobody has known who I was. I haven’t run into a single person who knew my name before I had met them. The closest that I had come was when I have been called “Jesse’s Dad” or “Aidan’s Dad” at the boys school. Since coming to Melbourne I have deliberately introduced myself as a stay-at-home-dad so that I learn the humility of being a person, not a position.
It has been hard being in situations where I would love to share my opinion and nobody calls on me. Or meeting people at church and when they find I am new to the parish they treat me like I am new to Christianity. It came be refreshing to not know anything about anything.
The Blessing of being “Nobody” on Sabbatical
There are three things that I have learnt from being a “nobody” here in Melbourne:
- I am a person not a position – it seems that I had pride in being a position. Perhaps I was hiding behind the position so that others knew me first; letting me of the hook of having to make the first move to get to know someone.
- Everyone has something to share – now that I have been the person in the room with something to share but no position to share it, I have learnt how valuable the opinions and experience of the group are, not just the positional leaders.
- Listen more than you talk – I have sat back and done a lot of listening over the past four months. I have learnt more than I did in the previous 12 months where I talked more than I listened.
Perhaps you won’t get a chance to have your own sabbatical anytime soon. Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting more of my learning’s from my sabbatical. Whilst my sabbatical has not been as structured as an academic sabbatical, it has been four months where I have been intentional about listening to God (read more here in Sabbatical – Introduction). Perhaps you might learn something for your leadership position or your ministry.
Please leave a comment, especially if you would like to know specific about my sabbatical that I write in a future post.