By: Nicki Ayers
I can still set the scene perfectly for you (humiliation has a way of engraving each and every detail of a mishap in your mind where day-to-day issues like, ‘where the heck are my keys?’ are often forever lost). I was standing center the stage, my principal actors facing me in a half circle with a least 10 background dancers hovering in the rear prancing around trying to remember their steps. It was crunch time, and this would be the first and only time the entire group, including tech and sound, would be together. I. Just. Needed. This. To. Go. Well. Cue the music and the room transforms from the sanctuary to my own personal Ford Theatre. Bodies move to motion, singers begin…
“Stop, stop, stop…” The room comes to a hault. Who had called out, wasting my precious rehearsal time?
“Nick, I really think it would look better if the girls in the back were staggered instead of in a straight line, don’t you think?” It had been my dear friend and the director of our drama department. One who I welcome and frequently request honest and quality feedback from. Was she right? Was staggered better? Maybe, but I was in charge so the answer was ‘no.’
“Let’s begin again…” I continue.
“No, no, I really think that’s the right choice. Girls, let’s see if this looks a little better…”
Who did she think she was? It was my hard work and direction that had coordinated this entire production. Did she know what she was doing? Sure. Was it she that I had learned many of my skills with over the year, and was clearly qualified and welcomed in any circle where I was? Definitely.
But asserting herself now in front of staff and countless volunteers? I snapped.
“Kristy, you are not the director! You’ve not done anything to make this happen, I don’t need your help! Get back to your place and let’s go!”
God has blessed me with strong lungs, and I had been heard loud and clear from all corners of the building. The room went silent. All eyes were on me but not for a reason I wanted. Friends, if you have to humiliate someone publicly to assert your leadership you’ve just proved that you shouldn’t have it to begin with.
“The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome, but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.” 2 Timothy 2:24
I was none of those things that day. I had used my flimsy church staff badge to refuse sound council, embarrass a dear friend, and let my own insecurities run wild. On top of that, I had also set the standard for our volunteers that if you got in my way, you’d regret it.
We are all humans and live in the real world. Becoming a Christian doesn’t eliminate our insecurities and shortcomings. As believers and leaders in our different worlds we are called to live differently. We are called to lift one another up.
No matter how justified you feel in the moment, the reality is: when we offend someone, we’re called to go to them to apologize and ask for forgiveness. It’s humbling, which is not fun. When that offense is a public one, as in my case, often the apology needs to be public as well. It’s an uncomfortable step to take, but it’s crucial as leaders for others to see that your previous behavior is not in line with who you are and who we represent as Christ followers. You’ll gain more respect as a humble leader than you will as a domineering one any day.
And by the way, she was right. Staggered dancers were way better than a straight line. Clearly. Why hadn’t I thought of that?
Nicki Ayers is a team member at The Community Church in Ashburn, currently working as a personal assistant to the lead pastor family. She is obsessed with yoga and cooking, but tries to control her urge to bring it up in every conversation so people don’t think it’s weird. Nicki is wife to Brian, Administrative Pastor at Community Church, and mom to Charlotte and Violet.
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