"'The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: life is a story about me." - Donald Miller.
"...if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?' The point is that each person's pride is in competition with everyone else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise." - C.S. Lewis (excerpts can be found here and here)
I've been kicking these particular thoughts around for a week, and they aren't very well-formatted yet... but may as well put them out there.
I don't think of myself (much) as being a person who cares much about celebrity. Politics is not my calling, and to be known for its own sake.... seems a bit useless.
Influence and leadership, though, is definitely my currency. I want to know that I'm making some kind of difference, and the ability to bring others towards a common goal is definitely something I'm built for. But it's also something that's incredibly easy to confuse with just general popularity and being liked and agreed with.
And in some ways, they correlate - trying to lead without having the underlying character and outer charisma is a bit of a wasted effort... on the other hand, there's a way it can degenerate into simple manipulation, image, strategy.... and I'm not good with that.
Even something simple though, can show how proud I am. I think I've got a pretty healthy self-esteem, and I've kicked up enough accomplishments in the past decade for me to feel pretty good about. But whenever I have to take a job or do something that's relatively powerless, or in a role that's traditionally associated with not-leading or a job without a lot of power, it really wears on me. I did administrative work again this summer... and I was so glad to get out of it. Even when I'm asked to do something administration-related for anything else I'm involved in, it gets me. I don't want to be helping fill out papers, I want to be calling some shots. Pretty rough, eh? For a while I've had a few boxes of oak baseboard scraps (originally received because I needed some scrap wood to help repair a bookcase). I've been turning them into semi-useful, (semi-profitable?) key racks.... but the act of cutting and painting these bring up these immediate "crafty scrapbooking stay-at-home-mom" associations that make me wince. Again... not a shining moment.
I shouldn't be threatened when I have to take on stuff like that. And I shouldn't fall into the trap of assuming that just because I don't want to be in roles like a scrapbooking mom or a secretary, that those are bad roles for someone else to take on.
Dave Slater spoke at Lift last night, and referenced Matthew 20 - when Jesus was asked if he'd put certain disciples in places of honor in his kingdom:
"But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave."
And it's easy to skim over that and go "yeah, yeah, that's a nice sentiment about being a leader that's also helping others" -- but at the core it's a lot more radical than that. Because it doesn't negate leadership. It doesn't translate into weak leadership. But it does completely change how you think about leadership's foundation and patterns.
A bit more from Lewis:
"Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call “humble” nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.
If anyone would like to acquire humility, I can, I think, tell him the first step. The first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step, too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed."
well.... another first step, another day.