The joys and learnings of being a team leader

Ruth Snalam decided to take a step of faith when she volunteered with Tearfund as a Team Leader in Tanzania. Over her three month placement she found that her leadership skills flourished and God was with her at every stage of the adventure. Here Ruth tells us a bit about her experience.

Behind the scenes – leading a Tearfund team
I've just returned from a three month Tearfund placement to Tanzania, where I joint-led a team of five as we served God by partnering with African Inland Church Tanzania (AICT). Our placement involved teaching, farm work, visiting rural villages, leading Church groups, spending time with community children and much more.

Initially I felt apprehensive about leading, but I found that through the joys and challenges, I loved it and learnt to rely more on God. I believe that God didn't call us to lead and serve alone, He surrounded us with many people who were uplifting us in prayer during our time in Tanzania.

As a team, we quickly bonded and became close friends. We spent time studying God's word together. We prayed together, worshipped our Creator and lifted our struggles and experiences up to him. God wasn't just 'inserted' into our lives at certain times of day, but conversation and prayer were interwoven throughout our days. Alongside deepening our relationship with God, this also really strengthened our relationship as a team.

Leaning On God
Becoming a leader seems to be a continual journey of learning through experience, making mistakes, and being inspired by people in my life.

I couldn’t have imagined leading a team five years ago but as I lent on God, he gave me strength and the ability I needed. Praise God that he gives us the Holy Spirit to prompt us and fill us every moment of our lives as we choose to walk with Him.

There are aspects of so many Bible character's lives that I long to bring into my own relationship with God and my leadership skills.

There’s David who humbled himself to call on God through his triumphs and mistakes, and Moses whose heart desire was to help the people of Israel and lead them to the fullness of life that God had for them.

Then there’s Esther who showed incredible boldness, bravery and humility at a time when she was risking her life to save others and Dorcas who had amazing dedication and love to those who are around her.

And ultimately – Jesus' heart for each person, to make known to each of us that we are seen, known, and loved.

Learning to Lead
I've learnt that leading a team means trusting that God is in charge. A big part of leadership, is about knowing God's heart and character towards you, and trying to show that to others in any place of authority He has given you.

It doesn't mean being a dictator; leading by being respectful of others means mistakes are allowed and consequences faced, but embraced with love and not anger. It means encouraging and cheering each small step that is taken; delighting in being with people for who they, rejoicing with those who rejoice and weeping with those who weep. It’s trying to be trustworthy; building up others gifts and helping them reach their potential; seeking vision; taking firm authority against the enemy when asked for help; speaking the truth but listening to the hearts of your team.

As a leader I still fail, let people down, want to run, get frustrated and make wrong decisions yet in all of this, God sees my efforts and my human heart, and still chooses to love me. God leads me in my weaknesses, strengths, pains and joys – and being a leader is about trying to accept and lead others in a similar way, whether that's in Tanzania, England, or wherever He might call us to lead.