Confession #85: I See Their Potential: Turning Bossy into Leaders

Tuesday night.Image

Tuesday night may, in fact, be my new favorite night of the week.

No, it isn’t because Glee or New Girl is on TV or anything. (Remember, I live without cable here in Haiti.) Rather, it is because on Tuesday nights, I get to sit around a room with six of my favorite teen girls and watch them grow into young women after God’s own heart.

I recently read a quote by Sheryl Sandberg that said, “I want every little girl who is told she is bossy to be told she has leadership skills.”

At first, this quote caught me off guard. Silenced me, even.

Oh, how many times as a little girl was I called “bossy”?

(The answer: Too many times to count.)

I started to have flashbacks.

Flashbacks of gathering all the neighborhood kids for community parades. I was always the leader. Always. Flashbacks of playing school with other kids and I always had to be the teacher. Or playing church with my brother where I was always the preacher.

Oh, my poor little brother. Growing up with a bossy, big sister like me was not easy, I’m sure.

Kids often referred to me as bossy. Sometimes they didn’t even want to play with me. But I was blessed enough to have a mother who saw through my childish behaviors and through to my potential. She just called me strong-willed. And from an early age she taught me how to use my bossiness/ strong-willedness for God’s glory.

Now, here I am, leading teenagers in Haiti. She was right- my mom. I did have leadership skills.

Just like my mom saw potential in me, I also see potential in our girls at Emmaus House.

  • Where some may see Jenny as bossy, I see the potential for her to be a passionate leader.
  • Where some may believe Evelyne can be too talkative, I believe she was made to teach others about Christ.
  • Where some may think Guerdine is too quiet and too little, I see a hard worker and a light that is larger than life.
  • Where some see Josie as too social and outgoing, I see her potential to inspire others.
  • Where some see Arianne’s shy nature, I see her gentleness and willingness to serve.
  • And where others see Kencia as loud and also just a tad bit bossy, I see a beautiful, young leader in the making.

I can see the potential talents in all of our girls, talents just waiting to be awakened, talents in desperate need of wisdom and direction. Time and time again, our girls have been told they were unworthy or unqualified. As a little girl, I was blessed to have parents who never degraded my personality, but instead encouraged and directed my potential. And now, my prayer is to do the same for our Emmaus girls. Sure, they can sometimes be full of sass. But you know what, I think sass is moldable. And I think sass can precede leadership possibilities if steered in the right direction. I’m living proof.

So on Tuesday nights I am guiding my girls through a Bible study. I’m not leading them. I’m not even teaching them. I am simply joining them and participating alongside them. An idea given to me by my sweet husband. We are going through the book of Ephesians. Each girl is taking a turn each week to teach, lead worship, and prayer. And I simply participate as a learner, a friend, and a spiritual mentor.

Last night Evelyne started our Bible study with Ephesians 1. And ya’ll, watching her teach gave me chills. If equipped and given the confidence she needs, this girl can move mountains for the Lord! She had everyone’s attention. Making eye contact with all of us, she PREACHED! She kept us all engaged, asking us questions, giving us real-life examples, and even a little humor to go along with it. Her words were full of passion and her lesson full of love. And she was full of joy- joy because she was using the gift God gave her.

I want you to pray for our Tuesday night Bible study. Our girls have so such potential, but they need wisdom, guidance, and opportunity for their potential to grow. My prayer is that Tuesday nights will be a launching pad for many of them- a time for them to study the scriptures with friends, learn from their peers, and discover their part in God’s grand story. Will you pray with me?

~ Jillian

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