Walking in the Footsteps of Faith

Just recently, Ben and I were reminiscing about our Lockheed Martin days. As a part of their Leadership Development Program, we had the opportunity to sit in on executive meetings and observe high-level directors and leaders in their sweet spots. They cast vision. They appointed those who are great executors to their teams in order to bring projects to completion. They ran multi-million dollar companies. They spurred the younger generation on to great achievement and opportunity. It was fascinating to be a part of of the inner-workings and learn from the best. Yes, it was a secular environment with secular goals, but I am still inspired by those three years that I was a part of that company and with that crowd of young leaders. I would not be who I am today without that experience.

As a leader in Ukraine, it is not at all the same as those LMCO days. The honest truth is that there are just not as many leaders to look up to. Who is casting vision, training and equipping, and appointing executors to the team in order to bring projects to completion? Most of the time, that is our job.

Josiah Venture has quality leaders we can look to, learn from and be inspired by, but they are far away, and there isn’t that daily access to them like we had in corporate American. One of the only substitutes is self-leading and self-teaching, where you learn from books (the best mentors). It’s not ideal, and often it is lonely and exhausting. But it is one of the only ways to stay motivated and inspired when there is no one around on a daily basis.

Honestly, I usually feel alone. I have been thinking about this A LOT this summer. Leadership is lonely.Being a female leader in a male context is particularly lonely. I sometimes can’t help but wonder – who is coming to work each day excited to train and equip me as I train and equip others day in and day out?

I long to look to the side and see another female who is doing things the way that I do, but after 10 years, it is still not there. It’s not that I don’t have friends and teammates, because I do and they are wonderful. But, for example, for the past two months between camp activities, we have spent every spare second, literally, at our desks, writing a 50-page attempt at the social sciences context and literature review for our doctorate program. People ask where we’ve been or what we’ve been doing with our time…it is hard to explain. You don’t want to feel pretentious by talking about the program all the time, and no one really understands anyway. Being a 37-year-old student when no one else is a student doesn’t help the loneliness. I never, ever that God has called us to this life in Ukraine and to these studies, but it can still be lonely.

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Luckily I have Ben, who understands in almost every way (except for the female part, but at least he tries to empathize). (Happy Birthday, by the way. 2 weeks belated. I owe you.) We have studied together since 1994. We did grad school downtown Philadelphia together (different schools and tracks, but still at the same time), so plenty of late nights in our orange office in Delran.

We did Fuller Theological Seminary together, 6.5 long years, to be exact, and with two children born in the mix. We stayed on track and stayed together. And then, back in November, we committed to doing the DMin together. So we sit up until 2am, sharing research, sharing book quotes, banging our heads against the desks, laughing hysterically, rejoicing when we find a great article, etc. Just last night we stayed up until 2 or 3am, discussing surveys we read, dreams we have, challenges we are facing.

It’s incredible when your spouse is not only your husband or wife, but in our case, we really do share things with one another in a way that no one else seems to. I’ve always been one to dance to the beat of a different drum, and I may not have peers who understand my life, but Ben really does, in the deepest sense, where I feel the loneliest. He is right there, feeling a bit lonely himself. I am so thankful for a bond of ours that is deeper than marriage, deeper than friendship. It’s one flesh on an entirely different level. I don’t really know how else to describe it, except that almost every single day we look at each other and say, “I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t physically in this, 100%, side-by-side with me. I am so glad that you understand.” _______________

I was reading Romans 4 this morning, and God woke me up to see that my faith really wavers when I look around me, like Peter on the water, and feel that I am so alone. The reality is that Jesus is right there, telling me to come to Him, telling me that this plan to redeem Central and Eastern Europe for God’s Kingdom purposes is worth it. Ultimately, it is he who fulfills my loneliness.

Another reality is that we really are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 11, 12:1-2). Abraham is one of those witnesses, who testifies to the fact that the unknown journey is worth it. Following our Lord and Savior anywhere for any purpose is worth it. He is so important to the people of Israel; I want his life lessons to be important to me to. What do I see when I look at Romans 4 and think about the life of Abraham?

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Hebrews 11 reminds us that “By faith Abraham obeyed when we has called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents…for he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God…Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth“…

What I can learn from Abraham?

  1. God honors obedience. Obedience to come to Ukraine, to become missionaries. Our obedience to lead the team. Our obedience to study at Fuller.
  2. We do not know the future. I may not see the promises fulfilled in my life time.
  3. I am a stranger and exile on this earth. Abraham moved and was totally alone.
  4. I need to stop looking around me, trying to find people who can relate, and lift my eyes up and focus on the eternal (Col. 3:1-2). “But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb.11:16)
  5. Romans 4:12b “Walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had”…
  6. Romans 4:16 “That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace.”
  7. It might feel like you are swimming upstream.  “In hope Abraham believed AGAINST HOPE, that he should become the father of many nations.”
  8. This journey requires supernatural believe in God’s miracles. Romans 4:19 “He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about 100 years old), or when we considered the deadness of Sarah’s womb.”

“No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised.” v. 20-21

“That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness’. But the words ‘it was counted to him’ were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord.” (v.22-24)

Lord, help me battle with the reality of loneliness in leadership. Thank you for Ben, for Abraham, for Your Son, for my job, for my school. In my loneliness I am filled with your spiritual riches that will sustain me until I arrive in your faithful city. I can’t wait. <3

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