Sarah is an editor for a Christian NGO and a member of the Public Leader: England 2018 cohort.
Late last year I received an email from a vicar I’d never actually spoken to who asked me if I’d be interested in making an application for the Evangelical Alliance’s Public Leadership course. I had no idea what public leadership was and, if it was what it sounded like, I was pretty sure I didn’t qualify. But something about the timing and random nature of the email prompted me to fill in the application form. When I was offered a place, I knew God must be trying to tell me something.
So, despite my doubts about leadership or my eligibility for the course, I decided to be part of it, and I’m really glad I did.
One of the most encouraging things I’ve learnt over the past six months is that there are some amazing Christians serving in hugely important leadership positions here in the UK. I guess that should have been obvious, but I don’t think you often hear about Christian business people making sure the companies they lead run ethically, Christian journalists serving God by writing the news, or Christian clinical psychologists helping students and employees see themselves and the world in a more positive way. Often my idea of a good Christian leader is someone in full-time ministry. But most Christians aren’t called to be pastors, and it’s been great to see that there are inspiring role models for the rest of us too.
I’ve really enjoyed getting to hear some of these Christian leaders share their stories and their struggles in leadership, and to learn from their experiences. And honestly, it’s been really encouraging just to know that there are some good, wise Christian leaders working in positions of authority in the UK right now.
I’ve loved getting to know the other 20- and 30-somethings on the course with me, and I hope to continue the friendships long after our year on the course is up. I have absolutely no doubt that these inspiring leaders will help to shape the UK for the better through their work in business, law, health, fashion, science, media… the list goes on. When I see how much some of them have achieved already, it spurs me on to think about how I can better use my skills for good and for God. (It does, admittedly, also put me into a mild panic about how little I’ve achieved with my life so far. But that’s not their fault.)
I think I’ve often struggled with the idea of being a leader, owing to a misunderstanding of what the Bible says about ambition and humility as well as fear of failing or doing a horrible job and letting everyone down. But somehow or other, I keep ending up leading things, and I’m learning this is not a bad thing. I am also learning that God wants me to be prepared and not just fall into things.
Being on the course has forced me to take time out from my life to think about what I am doing, what I could be doing, and who God has made me to be. Through the teaching, I’ve come to understand more about my strengths and my weaknesses, my journey to get to where I am today, and my character. I’ve also learned to start better appreciating some of the skills God has given me, and to realise that they are gifts and not everyone has them – just like I don’t have all the skills and talents other people have. I’m not someone who would naturally choose to take time to think about myself and my life, so having this time carved out has been really useful for me.
I am pretty sure God wanted to me to be part of this course. I still don’t know what my life will look like in five years’ time, or even 12 months’ time – but I definitely feel more equipped to be intentional about it, whatever it is. God knew that there was no way I would ever have signed myself up for doing this, or even considered it if a friend had suggested it to me, but He found a way to get me here. And for that I am really grateful.