A few days ago, I had an observation and evaluation at work. (This is perfectly normal; I’m not in trouble or anything. All teachers get evaluated periodically.) In my school district, some observations are planned in advance, and some are unscheduled. This one was unscheduled, and I felt like it couldn’t have come at a worse time. The day before, I had missed half the day because of a meeting, and I felt unprepared because of this.
However, the meeting with the principal afterward went well. She had entirely good things to say about what she saw. She also said that she could see me being a leader among teachers eventually. I’m not sure exactly what she means, but I’m thinking either she means that she could see me being involved in more committees around the school eventually to make decisions about the school and the curriculum. Or maybe she could see me being the department chair someday, if the current department chair steps down. The principal also said that she would want her own children in my class someday. I feel like this is a huge compliment. I’ve spent enough time in difficult teaching situations feeling like I’m just barely keeping my butt out of trouble that it’s nice to hear these kinds of things from my supervisor.
Her own children are younger than the students I teach, so it is entirely possible that I may in fact have her children in my class someday. That’s going to put a great deal of pressure on me if and when it does happen. I’ve taught the children of coworkers several times, including twice this year, but never the children of my principal or vice principal. But it was her other statement that really struck out in my mind, that about being a leader. I have a really difficult time seeing myself as a leader.
This came up another time recently at work. I was in a meeting with just four other teachers, and some of the district math coaches, to discuss some issues related to the advanced 7th grade math class. There is only one teacher at each school in the district who teaches this, and I’m it for my school. It felt kind of weird being at this meeting without anyone else from my school. I was the only one there to offer specific input from my school, and I could potentially be influencing decisions without anyone else to represent my school. I think I did fine, but it still was not a position I was used to.
This isn’t just about work. I have a hard time seeing myself as a leader anywhere in life. I have a hard time picturing that I might actually have a wife and children someday, like being the leader of a family isn’t something I’m capable of. I’ve had multiple friends suggest that maybe I should deal with my difficulty in finding a church group by starting a group of my own. This is scary. Am I really qualified for that? I have a lot I should probably clean up in my life, and I don’t know the Bible as well as some people I know.
Part of this is just the usual self-confidence issues that I’ve dealt with all my life. I feel like I don’t really know what I’m doing in life. Sometimes I feel like I’m still a scared little kid who should be doing what he is told. I’ve experienced so much rejection, I’ve had many ideas shot down, and I’ve been neglected and ignored many times. Because of this, I’m just used to seeing myself as insignificant. But that is really no excuse. I’m just selling myself short. I shouldn’t let that kind of fear and negative self-image stop me if there is really a way I could be using my gifts to lead others. God did not create me the way I am so that I could hide from the world.
Someone also pointed out recently that some of the best leaders are the ones who don’t necessarily think of themselves as leaders. Many who confidently work their way into positions of leadership care more about themselves than the group they are leading, and their leadership style becomes arrogant and self-serving. A good example of a more reluctant leader would be Moses. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush and called him to lead the people of Israel out of their slavery in Egypt, despite the fact that Moses repeatedly told God that he would not be a good leader (Exodus, chapters 3 and 4). I don’t know that there is an opportunity to be a leader staring me in the face right now, but maybe it’s something to think about and watch for.
After all, I have to grow up sometime.