By Jerry McNellis
Habitat for Humanity had a tradition where they started each session with a prayer led by a different board member.
Lisa asked me if she could lead one of the prayer sessions. I said I didn’t think it was appropriate for her to do so because of our role facilitating the retreat.
After I said “no” the look in her eyes was like I had stepped on her newborn kitten.
When our work was done after two days, we stayed overnight for the morning worship service. I got up at 5:30 a.m. and went looking for board member Bishop Dr. Gerard Mpango, Anglican Bishop of Western Tanganyika, Tanzania.
I found him and told him what I said to Lisa and how absolutely lousy I felt about it. He told me not to worry…he’d fix it.
About 8:00 AM the Habitat board members and our team gathered for worship.
I looked around for my daughter and couldn’t find her. Then out from a parlor came Bishop Gerard with Lisa.
Printed worship bulletins had been distributed for each of us.
Bishop Gerard told us to take a pencil and scratch out where it said Bishop and write Lisa next to it. He then joined the rest of us and had Lisa lead the service.
I went from the valley of disgust with myself to the mountaintop of pride in my daughter Lisa as she did such a beautiful job leading our service that Sunday morning.
Bishop Gerard turned over leading a worship service to a 19-year-old college freshman for leaders of an organization of such renown as Habitat for Humanity.
He taught me an unforgettable form of leadership. There is a time for a leader to “turn over a position ” as well as “there is a time you can or should get off the stage.”
It seems so simple an act to write about today; however, at the time Bishop Gerard’s humble act was a surprise which spoke loudly to all.
Last Monday Lisa and her husband Mike presented this world with twin daughters. Mother and daughters are doing well.
I am proud to share with you my newest grandchildren: Emmalin Grace and Hannah Marie Ilyankoff