Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Senior Bucket List: Be Unnecessary

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, people.

Here’s your chance to get a tiny glimpse of what I was like as a high schooler. Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the terrifying pictures from freshman year (just starting to grow out my bowl cut—no joke).

Go back in time four years and read the words of Amy the high school senior:

They say it happens every year: the seniors suddenly become unbearable.

It’s the pressure, most people say. These kids are going to be on their own soon, and they’ve got to decide what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives. Who can blame them for cracking under the pressure? Or it’s simply the fact that they’re the oldest now, the most experienced, and feel that they have the right to take charge.

I remember people saying last year, ‘I’m so glad so-and-so is graduating. She used to be so nice, but something happened her senior year.’ And I thought to myself, I don’t want anyone saying that about me. So I decided that I want to make as many people miss me next year as possible.

Great, goal, right? Make friends, be a good example, don’t pull rank or slack off just because you’re the big kid in the school. And that’s what I did my senior year.

Now I’m coming up on another senior year. And this is not my goal. Not anymore.

First, let me say that high school Amy had the best of intentions. And I think God used that decision in my life to make me more intentional about how I acted my last year of high school.

But I’ve come to realize that it’s easy to make yourself necessary. That, really, was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the one who was at the center of anything fun that was happening, the one who came up with creative games and contributed to group projects and gave the most thoughtful answers in Bible study and got the trivia questions right and sang the solos and set up chairs and was loved and admired by everyone.

There was a lot of pride going on behind the scene in that seemingly noble desire to make as many people miss me as possible. I wanted to be needed, to have people sigh after I was gone and say, “Boy, I wish Amy was here.”

Yep, it’s easy to make yourself necessary. But it’s hard to make yourself unnecessary.

Okay, I take that back. It’s also easy to make yourself unnecessary if by that you mean that you don’t contribute, don’t build any relationships, and sleep through all of your classes. No one will miss you when you’re gone, and it will be your own fault.

But what I mean is losing the arrogance that says you must lead and everyone else must follow. You have to be the one who gets the credit, who is known for witty comments or intelligent thoughts, and who did the planning and the hosting and the speaking and pretty much everything else.

Making yourself unnecessary means delegating responsibilities so events will go on smoothly without you. It means listening and asking questions instead of always being the one to dominate a conversation. It means encouraging other people’s passions instead of just using an enthusiastically forceful personality to persuade everyone to do what you want to do. It means serving and mentoring instead of commanding.

And it’s hard. At least, I think it is, because I haven’t figured out how to do it well. Not yet, anyway.

So, this year, I want to make myself unnecessary…but hopefully still wanted. Because, in some ways, high school Amy was right: it’s good to be missed. There are parts of me that I can’t delegate.

But I want people to miss me for who I am, not for the things I do.

(P.S. For those of you waiting for another installment of “Really Annoying Writing Habits” that I promised last week, sorry. I just wasn’t feeling the biting sarcasm, especially since it could be interpreted as directed at others instead of myself. I even edited the “Part One” out of the title of last Wednesday’s post so you can’t prove I meant to do more in the series. And this message will also self-destruct.)

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