The week after I returned from France, I had the privilege of serving as a Cluster Facilitator for the UIUC session of the Institute by LeaderShape. For those who don’t know what the Institute by LeaderShape is, it is a, “a six day immersion program that challenges participants to lead with integrity while working toward a vision grounded in their deepest values.”

So what does that translate to exactly? This means I got to spend six days with a group of almost 60 participants (aka students), an awesome group of Cluster Facilitators, and two LeaderShape Co-Leads (the program leads/curriculum experts). We dove deep into conversations about social change, visions, values, the changes we hope to see in the world, and ultimately, the individuals we strive to be.

Going in to the experience, I was nervous and unsure of (a) if I could do the job and (b) what I would learn or take away from the experience. Little did I know that (a) I would have SO much fun working with the students and (b) I would take away so much more than I could have ever expected.

On Day 4 of the Institute, we had the opportunity to talk one-on-one with another individual about the person we want to be. I had the opportunity to sit down with two other members of the “pro-staff” team and through our conversations I had two realizations that hit me like a ton of bricks.

The person I want to be extends so far beyond the labels. Of course, I’d love to be a wife and mom one day (when I told one of my participants this, she told me she thought I’d be a great mom one day and let me just tell you, I almost melted into a puddle on the floor). I want to be a world traveler and a change maker. There are bucket list items I want to cross off and big goals I want to reach, but at the end of the day, the person I want to be is so much more than that.

In our discussions surrounding values, I reflected on two of my top values, faith and grace, and what those truly mean to me; they are guiding factors in my life and shape how I see the world and the ways in which I interact with it. God is the ultimate lighthouse – the keeper of the brightest light of them all – but I’ve realized I really want to be a lighthouse for others; a shining light in the dark, a strong and mighty structure who doesn’t waver, and a beacon of hope, security, and safety. I want to be an extension of his lighthouse. I want to emulate His promises and spread His promises of light, safety, comfort, and security out into the world.

It was in this conversation and in the one-on-one conversations I had with the members of my Cluster Family that I realized that something that sets my soul on fire is just reminding individuals they are loved, worthy, equipped, able, and destined for big and beautiful things. I love to talk to passionate people and watch them grow into their truest self – their destined identity. Whether it be planting the seed, watering it, pruning it, tending to it, watching it grow, and eventually seeing it bloom – watching and helping someone see they’re a rose when they’ve always seen themselves as a thorny plant just completely fills my soul. While I’m not sure that that means for my journey or my life, I do know that it’s important.

It was a long week filled with long days, but ultimately, I left the experience so much more filled than I could have ever expected. Open doors and opportunities for growth don’t always look like you’d expect them too, but they are always good.

Until next time,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s