So here’s the picture: The year is 490 B.C.and there is a war going on between an alliance of Greek cities led by King Leonidas of Sparta and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I. As the two forces meet for the final confrontation, you see a large man standing in front of his small but elite army which started at 300 men and are now slightly depleted. The Persian army stands in front of them with a huge number advantage. The hero, King Leonidas, stands before the enemy with sweat glimmering from his chest and muscles bulging from everywhere. This intimidating figure stares fearlessly into their eyes of the enemy moments before the final battle begins.
Why is it that our image of “Hero” has to be a big muscular man whose muscles are larger than our heads? I think it’s because the world has taught us that in order to do anything worth while, even to do something good like saving the world or rescuing the people you love, you have to be built, you have to know how to fight and you have to be the strongest of them all. You can have weakness but you better be able to overcome it, or else you are not a real hero.
The past few weeks I have been feeling like the Lord has been calling me to step up as a leader – to be more of that “Hero”. My first thought is always, “God?…. Me? You want me? You must be talking about the wrong fuzzy-haired missionary…. You must be thinking of someone else? I can follow… but there’s no way I can lead”. And yet, every time I hear the Lord reply with a simple invitation to follow him.
Throughout my life I have been given mixed messages on how weak or strong I am. Doctors have told me “You are weak, just take it easy, don’t push your heart too hard. You might not be able to handle it”. Other people have said, “Wow Felix you’re so strong in your faith, you’re such a good guy. Thank you for all you do.” Throughout my life, these mixed messages have confused me. Which is it? Am I weak or strong? Am I part of the 300 and to fight for what I believe in while following someone stronger, someone who knows what he is doing? Or am I being called to stand up and to be that man who is standing in front of the army, ready to lead the army into battle. Am I called to actually lead others in a big way?
As I grew closer to God and began to follow Him in the life of a missionary I thought that my role was just to lead by example, to follow the lead of others and encourage others to do the same. Sometimes this is my role. But recently I feel like God is calling me to be more of a leader. I have been asked numerous times to lead prayer experiences, to give numerous talks and testimonies, to help with the weekend missionary schedule and even serving as MC for an 8th grade retreat for St. Mary’s. I am uncomfortable being in the front and leading a group of people. I am way more comfortable following someone else and encouraging others to do the same. But As Pope Benedict XVI said “You are not made for comfort, You are made for greatness!”
As I have been seeking to grow as a leader and trying to be open to God’s invitation, my prayer has been “Lord, let it be you who moves through me.” After this past week with St. Mary’s 8th grade class I have come to find joy in leading on the front line. Though I still get nervous and uncomfortable, I can see the ways the Lord was leading me. One thing I did realize is that even when I was the leader in the front, I was never the real leader. It was always the Lord leading me to lead others. I am nothing like King Leonidas in a physical sense. I do not have big muscles. I do not have a crimson red cape or a unbeatable battle plan. I don’t have the awesome deep pitched voice of a leader or the cool facial hair.
But there is one thing I do have. I have confidence in the Lord because, as I have learned these past few weeks, “The Weak Will Lead The Strong.” I am weak but God’s “power is made perfect in weakness”. Even though I feel less suitable to lead others or I feel like I’m the weakest around, I have learned that as long as I depend on the Holy Spirit and trust that it is God who is leading through me, then no matter how many we have on the battle field and no matter what our strategy is that we will be victorious and we will be able to show the world the love of Christ.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:9)
This article was first published on Lifeteen
Image credits: Ngo Quang Minh