Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Leadership (03/14/05)
TITLE: A Tale of Two Fish
By Deborah Bauers
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Let’s see... My picture showed up in every classroom photograph from first through sixth grade. Yep! There I was, right up front, standing next to the teacher, her hand on my shoulder. I went on to distinguish myself as a Junior Scholastic Poet of Middleburg Junior High and picked up more trash than any other student, earning for myself, the Eighth Grade Citizenship Award for Douglas County. I ran faster, out spelled, and played all-around suck-up to every adult that could offer adulation and enhance my reputation as an “a really great kid.” Every so often, I glanced over my shoulder to check for potential challengers that might try to usurp my self-imposed title of “The Fair-Haired Boy.”
By the end of my junior year in high school, the school trophy case was full of my accomplishments as all around sportsman as well as esteemed academian. I was certainly on track to earn the “Most Likely to Succeed” spot in my Senior Yearbook; or would have been, if I had stuck around to go for it. However, a new opportunity to outperform my own expectations emerged on the horizon and I was awarded the new distinction of graduating a year early, with honors. Wow! I was off to college before even turning seventeen.
As they say, “All good things must come to an end.” When I arrived at college campus, much to my amazement, I found that I was no longer a “ big fish.” My university campus certainly bore no resemblance to the small pond that was my Midwest hometown, either. Within a very few weeks, I saw myself being swallowed up in the anonymity of the lack of distinction that comes with mediocrity. In other words, I was a small fry and it appeared that my trophy days were numbered. Fresh on the heels of that painful discovery it dawned on me, that stripped of my compelling performance in the past, I was quite simply, a nobody. Like the prelude monologue to an episode of the Lone Ranger, I looked at my life and asked, “Who is this masked man?”
One day as I was crossing the campus between classes, someone shoved a circular into my hand. It was one of those “come one-come all” kinds of invitations to attend a gathering of students who belonged to a local chapter of Campus Life Fellowship. I went to that meeting, hoping to find a new pond to call home. I still yearned to be a big fish again. What I found was a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a way to deal with my feelings of failure. In the weeks that followed, I came to realize that I had never been a “leader” in the true sense of the word; but had only managed to run fast enough and work hard enough, to stay out in front of the rest of the competition. To be a real leader, you needed to have a following of those who trusted you to cast a nobler vision. You had to be willing to be out front, not for fame and glory, but to serve and motivate those who were looking to you for leadership.
I’m truly thankful for those whom God has placed in my life as vision-casters and motivators. I don’t know if I will ever be a real leader. I’m finding it quite refreshing to just be a successful follower. For now, I only know that I need someone wiser and more humble, to help me find my way.
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