The tall mountains of Macedonia are rolling stubbornly in the clouds. There’s a blue haze of heat and humidity layering the peaks, in darker and lighter shades. 

We left Ohrid. 

Jackie is sleeping, dreaming of hugs and laughter. She has adopted an army of aunts and uncles. She has had memorable connections and conversations, has played hard and grown visibly in strength, spirit and wisdom. 

We are physically tired but spiritually energized. 

A few years ago Liviu invited us to join this diverse group of people. And we went. 

We found there willing hearts, brave spirits, honestly in the aftermath of conflict. Brokenness and healing by grace. People who are vulnerable, leadership inclined, followers of Jesus. Ambassadors for a better world. 

We are all ambassadors, the difference is our willingness to cultivate the skills and embrace the values. But also to accept and carry the burden and responsibility of leadership. 

For most of us it takes some time to embrace the identity of a leader. We need it to be affirmed by someone with authority. And then, guided, with purpose and context, to gain balance and strength. 

The changing of my mind is fluid. We are called to continuously renew our mind, because otherwise it gets stagnant and too comfortable in its own environment, culture and society.

As ambassadors for a better world, if we are to follow the Bible’s perspective, there is a direct correlation between being an ambassador and being a servant of Jesus. 

Good ambassadors (in the tangible sense) don’t forget who sent them. They don’t forget the flag under which they act. They know their home is not the place they are sent as ambassadors. 

They are optimist and believe that change is possible. Whilst they are realist, understanding the brokenness and the slowness of change, and are appreciative of the small steps.  

I’m a leader. There is no way around it. Even if I want (or not) to admit it. God has empowered me to be intuitive, aware, creative, smart. He has given me the courage to believe and the avenue to express my faith in my (live and work) community. 

Leadership is hard, and peppered with struggle and doubt. But doubt is an asset if you have faith. It keeps you humble, grounded, seeking God, pleading for wisdom. 

A good leader also gives society what it needs, not what it expects. Being a liaison of cultures, and an empathetic speaker, I’m always aware and concerned with how my words and actions are perceived, and I adjust my expression of belief and convictions, for a successful response. 

I ought to let go at times, of the focus on peoples response, and push forward in faith. Be the one who responds to God’s calling, and incline the balance in discerning what society needs in contrast with what it expects.

An inspiring contributor of The Forum for Leadership challenged the attendees in the past to write down their goal for the next year. Another one, this year brought the focus on finding out what we love, and diving deep in loving what we set our heart on. Asking God for wisdom, with gratitude, and pursuing that wholeheartedly. I believe that when you do something you love, the work doesn’t feel hard. 

And don’t be afraid to dream small. The size of the object of your love, does not make it more or less valuable or impactful. 

Doing work out of love, like Jacob, will make 20 years seem short. 

On the other hand I’ve invested in projects I didn’t love, and I still have a lingering bitter taste of how it felt to be unmotivated. Every minute I had to spend on the project I didn’t love, was dreadful. But being the responsible person I am, I finished what I started. 

One night, sharing about gratitude and vision, Jackie was in the front row, on the edge of her seat, eyes bright, smiling, listening intently. Such an encouraging sight from stage. At some point I said I adopted a girl, and her hand sprung up, with enthusiasm shouting: “me!” 

Observing her behavior, her poise, her applied knowledge this week gave me hope that she does listen to us, and more. 

God walked with us so far. Often times I wonder if we know what we’re doing. Because the daily grind of parenting can be messy. Jackie is a gift, and as we move on to the bigger chiseling aspects of child rearing, we find the space to give her freedom, and guidance to grow in her independence, knowledge as well as love for Jesus. 

We can’t take any credit for how extraordinary she is. It would be unfair and untrue. Her Heavenly Father grows her, in stature and wisdom. We are just the Gardners who clean the weeds here and there, and we water her abundantly.