The foundation of all things leadership I learned from Ryan. Ryan used to be on staff at my church and one of his responsibilities was outreach. In 2007 I started helping my friend Justin with outreach. I had read this book, Under the Overpass, and realized that it didn't matter what I did I just wanted to serve other people and let them know that Jesus loved them.
Justin realized right around Halloween that year that he didn't really want to lead that way, God had a specific call on his life and leading outreach wasn't it. Our church was doing a massive Helicopter Candy Drop at the time, so I worked with Ryan to get everything coordinated and off the ground (pun intended).
Just after the 1st of the year Ryan said that with Justin no longer leading outreach, the staff wanted another volunteer leader for outreach and they would like me to do it, if I agreed.
Can I just pause and say that I didn't actually expect that to happen? Ok good. Because I didn't. Although I'm working on it very hard; at the time I didn't have a lot of confidence in anything that I did. I still felt like I was inconvenient for most people around me and that my worth was in what I accomplished, what I did. In short, I was comfortable with the idea that I was a work horse and I really didn't want anything other than that. So even though I tried to be all chill and "whatever dude" on the outside inside I was all, "Are you sure you're asking the right person?"
I clearly agreed. But I also let Ryan know that I had no idea how to lead anything. I didn't think I would be very good and I was basically terrified of letting people down and screwing something up. I couldn't have asked for a better guide through the beginning of leadership than Ryan. He gave me his attention, his time, his resources (this would be my introduction to the world of reading other peoples blogs, and boy I still haven't found the bottom of that rabbit hole). He encouraged me in ways that are to numerous to list. One of which is a card, just a small card that may have been written off the cuff not a big deal, but it still hangs on my refrigerator.
I'm a memories person. I like to be able to look at things over and over again, sometimes to convince myself it's real. Even though Ryan isn't on staff or my uplink for leading outreach anymore, sometimes I still look at that card while I'm by the fridge and I will feel encouraged just like the day I first opened the mail.
Ryan taught me that it's ok to fail. That it's not truly failing as long as you're failing forward, learning something as you go so that when you get up (because you need to get back up) and do something else you will do so with what you learned when you failed. I'm still really afraid to fail, but comparatively speaking, I'm a lot braver than I used to be. He told me that he had my back (when I was dealing with a particularly difficult group of people) and gave me the freedom to lead even if I fell flat on my face.
I know that I wouldn't be half the leader that I am today (and I don't know what that counts for really) if it weren't for the guidance of Ryan through the first almost year of my leading anything.
There is nothing like being led by a good leader, and Ryan is an awesome leader.