I’ll never forget a time back in high school when a teacher of mine laughed at the fact that I chose to join the school's mock trial team. She implied that I was "too soft spoken" and that my soft voice wasn’t fit for any public speaking clubs. I didn't really care about what she thought and decided to audition for the team any way. I managed to land one of three lead roles as a mock attorney on the team and the team reached unimaginable heights that year. There's a valuable lesson to be learned here: we should never limit people's interests and/or their potential. Do I believe that the teacher was evil or had ill intentions towards me? No, not at all. In fact, she was one of my favorite teachers! She, like many leaders often do, got caught in what I like to refer to as: "Categorical Syndrome". What in the world is Categorical Syndrome you might ask? It is a terminology that I made up for leaders who categorize individuals into a certain box based on their own ideologies of how people ought to be and act. In other words, it is the act of limiting or refusing to cultivate a person's gifts and potential because that person's appearance or character doesn't fit the model that you've created. What my former teach tried to do (which is wrong) was put me in a box. Due to her ideologies of what a public speaker should be and sound like, her vision was blurred. My teacher was so blinded by her own selfish opinions that she couldn't see what I had the potential to become.
As leaders, we must be very careful not to fall into that way of thinking. We have to be very intentional about expanding our views so that we can identify the limitless possibilities in the lives of the people that we are called to lead. Think of it this way: parents who have multiple children can attest to the fact that while their children are all raised under the same roof, they each have their own unique differences. As a mother, I can't tell you how often I think about my son's future. I often wonder about the things he will like and about the type of man he will grow up to become. I would be lying if I told you that I didn't have a few personal preferences as it relates to his future career path and interests. Furthermore, I would be lying if I told you that I don't observe his current behaviors as a child to indicate what type of character that he might develop when he is older. All of these things are what we as leaders often do to the people that we lead. We often decide for ourselves who they should be or we limit who they have the potential to become, all based on our personal ideologies and preferences. We must be intentional about not allowing our opinions and our selfish desires to infringe on the interests and desires of the people that we lead. The best thing that I can do for my son as his mother is to educate him and to expose him to as many opportunities as possible, so that he can gravitate to his purpose and calling. I will be doing him an injustice if I push him in one particular direction not knowing if God has a different plan set for him. My mother has been trying to convince me that at the tender age of 10 months, my son already has a favorite color which she believes is red. To test my mother's observation, I put three colorful toys in my hand (blue, red, and green) and presented them before my son and he immediately reached for the red one first. I removed the red one and presented just the blue and green one to him and he reached for the green one. I brought back the red one to see if he would reach for it again and he did. Notice how when I removed the red toy he settled for the green one? Depriving those that we lead from certain opportunities will cause them to abort their purpose and settle for the next best thing. As leaders, we should just educate and allow God to do the rest. Our teachings should not be biased--they should be unaltered and based on truth. That is how/when we will truly allow for people to identify their true selves in Christ and their purpose in society.
PART TWO EXCERPT: "Once we get to a place of allowing people to freely become who they are called to be, we must be careful not to feel threatened by their potential! A true leader's desire should be for his or her students/followers to surpass what he/she has done. Too often we stifle the progression of those underneath us because we want them to serve us forever OR we fear that they might accomplish more than we did."