Being Transformed

The 2020 Vision Statement of Freedom to Lead:
In five years we will see 5000 storycentric leaders in 25 under-resourced countries
being transformed into competent Christ-centered leaders.

For the FTL Summer Blog Series, we have been unpacking our Vision Statement for the next five years. First, we took a look at the “Freedom to Lead” part. What do we mean by “freedom”? Next, we examined the numbers, 5000 leaders from 25 countries. Last time we looked at the word “under-resourced.” And today we are talking about “being transformed.”

I live on the third floor of an apartment building. I do not have access to a yard or a place to grow a garden, though I do have a small balcony. And because I decided my place needed some fresh life to it, I went out and bought a couple of planters not too long ago.

First I started with seeds. After weeks of the wildflower seeds being burrowed with no visible fruit I was getting rather discouraged. Just as I was about to throw it away, this teeny tiny sliver of green gave me hope. Still, patience has never been something I’ve been good at. Perhaps the blooms will come yet.

This time though, I decided to pack my planters with dirt, go to the nursery to pick out already blooming plants, and start from there. This time, I am determined to see them stay healthy. So far they have not died on me.

Then I went to the craft store. I wanted to create little wooden signs to be planted alongside these flowers. Each little sign has a person’s name written in white paint. It’s a metaphor, really, a symbol if you will. Each morning I go out and press my fingers into the soil to check for its moistness. I brush off dead petals. I wipe the dirt off of each green leaf. And I pray. I pray over each little sign, each representing a person that I have committed to pray for by name during this season. These are the names of some young people who are being placed in situations this year to grow as competent Christ-centered leaders. All of whom are being transformed. It is my “Garden of Prayer.”

garden of prayer

Those who are in the business of developing leaders like to use words like these: Passion. Impact. Transformation. Growth. Changed Lives. All of these are very good words. However, it would be presumptuous to say that Freedom to Lead is doing the actual “transforming” or “growing” of its leaders.

Cultivating Christ-centered Leaders

Instead, Freedom to Lead’s mission statement talks about “cultivating Christ-centered leaders.” Just like I do for my little planter on my apartment balcony, Freedom to Lead creates the conditions for which under-resourced leaders can gain access to relevant resources. We provide opportunities for people to be set free in their leadership. We trust that each of these leaders has a name and a story that God has not finished writing. But ultimately, we don’t do the transforming. God does.

Now if I let my poor plants go more than two days without water, especially in this sweltering heat, the petals will wither. If I don’t cut back some of the stems, the flowers will be overgrown and choked. But I can’t yell at the plant, I can’t beat on the plant, and I certainly can’t manipulate the plant to grow. I leave the process of the growth and transformation up to God.

Additionally, in this transformation process, just as in the sanctification process, we acknowledge that we do not ever completely “arrive” at being a leader. “Being” implies a continuous action. And the transforming work happens by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Today as I went out to water my garden I noticed that a brand new flower had blossomed overnight, and a hummingbird was having a visit. Mr. Hummingbird lingered for a bit and then went on his way. In the beauty of that moment it was almost as if the Creator God was saying, “I’ve got this.”

In the meantime, we do our work. We pray. We trust. And we watch the stories unfold.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

(1 Corinthians 3:6-7, ESV)

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