I’ve never been as insecure as a leader as I have been this year. The thoughts of inferiority have been often and regular for me this year, something I’ve not really experienced before. Maybe in my younger days I turned thoughts feelings into pride, arrogance and self-protection and now I’m just a tad bit more mature and can more easily acknowledge these feelings for what they are.
This year, and it’s been one year and eight days since I moved to Orlando (but who’s keeping track?), I’ve often felt like a prophet. Specifically, in a prophet’s call to embody a message and not just speak it. As I write that, I want to delete that, but it’s what I’ve thought a lot. I have experienced so many things that I know a lot of others are experiencing or will experience, specifically in our journey toward multi-ethnicity. I’ve experienced things I know both ethnic minorities and white people will experience.
The great sense of fear and faith that goes with entering into this path of multi-ethnicity. The overwhelming feeling of reading and hearing and learning so many new things. The confusion from what I am learning, changing and blasting away what I used to think was true about the world. The questions about how I fit in. Will people take me seriously? Is my voice important enough to speak up? What do people think about me? Am I Asian enough? Not the right kind of Asian? Do I know enough? Have I done enough? I’ve experienced some shame because of our low financial support. Why can’t I seem to raise it and keep it nice and high? Is it my fault or God’s doing? Did I get this new job because I’m an ethnic minority or because I’m an ethnic minority and I’m qualified? And what will other people think? Does it matter? Will people think I’m doing enough? Will I be seen as a bad guy or a good guy? Am I on the inside with others or seen as an outsider? And this doesn’t even include serving staff whom I greatly respect, staff who are older than me with far more experience.
Any of those describe your thoughts and feelings?
My wife knew, only as she can, that I needed to strengthen my soul. She gave me the book, Soul Keeping, by Ortberg. back in January. I started counseling a few months later and am starting another book, Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership, by Barton. Just as I wrote in my last post that those feelings of anxiety was a gift from God to me, I think these feelings of inferiority are a gift of God to me, to put me on a focused path to strengthen my soul.
And as I listen to others who have been in the long battle of reconciliation or multi-ethnicity, there is a continual message to take care of ones self, to take care of ones soul, to be able to endure.
I’m very thankful for this journey. I think this could be one of the unplanned benefits of our current organizational focus on multi-ethnicity – the opportunity for myself and individuals to re-engage with the gospel in a slightly different way, to allow God to work on our understanding of love and our identity, and to deepen the strength of our souls.
2 passages I’m captured by lately:
“Oh, for the days when I was in my prime, when God’s intimate friendship blessed my house.” Job 29:4
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength. He is like a shrub in the desert and shall not see any good come…. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream.” Jeremiah 17:5-8