Before this Mission Year started my overall goal was to be an authentic leader. When I thought of an authentic leader I thought of someone who was aware of their gifts and worked in them, humble enough to accept and acknowledge weaknesses and fears, unwavering in beliefs regardless of the circumstance, and spoke their true thoughts and feelings when necessary. I also thought they were able to ask for help, sought to edify rather than please people, and understood their true and consistent need for a savior.  For me, this was as simple as being honest if I need to go to sleep as oppose to hanging out or going beyond my limits in order to please another.

There were a few reasons why I had such a strong desire to lead authentically. For one, my generation longs for authenticity especially for authenticity within the church. Too often we hear people say, “Church people are fake. They act as if nothing is ever wrong with them. They’re ‘happy’ all the time. They live just like everyone outside the church.” As the church I believe we had good, yet flawed, intentions in putting on the front that “since Jesus came into my life all my rainy days are gone.” We wanted to make God look good and we wanted others to believe that our lives have been fabulous since accepting Christ with the hope that others would want to believe him too. But the Christian life (in the Bible) is often marked by suffering and a growing understanding of our need for a gracious and merciful God. God doesn’t need us to be happy all the time. He desires that we give our WHOLE (the good, the bad, the ugly, and the downright disgusting) selves in order that he may use our WHOLE selves for his glory.

Another reason I longed to be authentic was because it goes against some of my normal tendencies. Too often I’ve done things to please people at the expense of my true authentic feelings, thoughts, or beliefs. This is not good and cheats people of one of the best gifts I can give them… me. A real me. A true me.


Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo


Stephanie Cassell is a current Mission Year Chicago alumni leader. Originally from Mint Hill, NC, she attended UNC Chapel Hill. Learn more by visiting her donation page.