The summer of 1993 was a great summer!
North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Ocean. Sunshine. Golf.
Best Summer Ever!
There were about 60 of us college students (and about 20 staff) on Summer Project with Campus Crusade for Christ. And it was one of the best summers of my life!
We worked jobs on weekdays. We had what was basically “youth group” on weeknights. And we did beach evangelism on the weekends.
A few other guys and I got jobs at the Gator Hole Golf Course (which sadly no longer exxists). It was great! We worked nine hours Monday through Thursday and then just four hours on Friday, after which we would play a round of golf together for free.
An Embarrassing Assignment
Summer project was designed to help students not only grow in their faith, but also in their leadership ability. So, halfway through the ten weeks, all the Campus Crusade staff would leave and the project was run entirely by students. All the jobs that had been held by staff would be assigned to students. One student became Project Director. Another student became Assistant Project Director. Others were put in charge of activities. Some were made Bible study leaders. And some were made Assistant Bible study leaders.
What job did I get? Assistant Bible study leader. Which felt really embarrassing to me. It felt like the job for those that didn’t have enough leadership ability to do anything else.
Here’s why it really stung.
My friend, Scott, had been at the North Myrtle Beach Summer Project two years earlier. I loved Scott! He had been my discipler in Campus Crusade and he often spoke about how he had been the Summer Project Director.
Well, so… I felt like I, too, needed to be Project Director when I went on project. I felt like I needed to live up to his example.
When I not only did not become Project Director, but was made Assistant Bible Study Leader–I gotta be honest–I felt humiliated.
Clearly, the project staff didn’t see much leadership ability in me. Not only was I not made Project Director, I wasn’t even mature enough to be a Lead Bible Study Leader. They made me an Assistant Bible Study Leader.
I Wasn’t Really Ready
The truth of the matter, however, is that I actually wasn’t ready to be Project Director. The staff had been watching us the first half of project, and I really hadn’t demonstrated any leadership in the group. As an introvert, I kind of hung back from the crowd. I didn’t stand out. I was just a quiet participant.
Which is why the staff had no reason to make me anything more than an Assistant Bible Study Leader.
But it Prepared Me for Leadership
As disappointing and embarrassing as this was for me, it was also very formative.
I had thought I was pretty awesome. So awesome that they should have just seen my amazing leadership skills. But, obviously, not everyone thought I was as awesome as I thought I was. Being a leader would require much more than what I currently had to offer. I would have to grow into that calling.
That was a rough lesson for me. I still had a really great time on Summer Project, but I had to swallow my pride. I had to learn humility.
God Will Use Whatever You’re Going Through
That humility was the lesson I needed to become the leader I would later be called to be. A year or two later, I was elected president of our local Campus Crusade group at Slippery Rock University.
Here’s my point. Growing as a leader isn’t just about gaining great leadership experience. Sure that’s part of it. But God uses difficult, even painful, experiences, too.
Whatever you’re going through now–good or bad–God will use that to build you into the leader God is calling you to be.