Do You Want to Be Popular or Do You Want to Be a Leader?

Middle school and high school were miserable for me.

I desperately wanted to fit in and be liked by the popular kids.  But I was awkward, quiet, shy and a little A LOT insecure.  I wanted so much to fit in that I stifled so much of who I was.

As a result, I never really made a mark with that season of my life. 

My fear of not being popular kept me from being who I was.  In looking back, I think if I had asserted myself and my natural leadership instincts I might not only have been a good leader to my peers, I may have also gained some popularity along the way.

Because I stifled my uniqueness, I neutered myself from having any influence whatsoever.  I was neither popular nor a leader. 

Fast forward 20 years and I still see the same tendencies in myself.  While I’m much more comfortable with the fact that being a leader is part of who God has created me to be, I still shrink back some days.  I still long to just fit in and be accepted.  I don’t want to be the one making all the difficult decisions all the time.  I want to blend into the crowd – the popular crowd, that is.

I want to be loved and accepted for who I am without actually being who I am.

It doesn’t work.

I can’t want to be liked more than I want to be who God has called me to be.

I can’t want to be known more than I want to do what’s right.

I can’t want to be popular more than I want to be a Godly leader.

So anytime I don’t feel like being the leader I need to be, all it takes is a flashback to my awkward 14 year old self to remember that while I won’t always be popular, I’ll always be more comfortable being the leader God has called me to be.

Do you ever struggle with wanting to be accepted more than wanting to do what you’re called to do?

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  • Mark Riggins November 3, 2011  

    Jenni thanks for your transparency. I can relate to those teenage years and my desire to find my significance through other’s opinions. Thanks for the encouragement!

    • Jenni Catron November 3, 2011  

      Mark, I’m kind of sorry for you that you can relate to this one but glad to know someone else understands. Thanks for sharing!

  • Marybeth6 November 3, 2011  

    I wrote a similar post today on my personal blog called “I Could Care Less” as in I could do a better job of caring less what other people think and embrace my individuality as a unique gift. if you’d like to read it.

  • ash November 3, 2011  

    “I can’t want to be liked more than I want to be who God has called me to be.” dang. such a good challenge.

    • Tiffanie Shanks (@tashanks) November 3, 2011  

      And a much needed challenge! I completely agree. I also liked, “Because I stifled my uniqueness, I neutered myself from having any influence whatsoever.” Great word choice to really make that statement shocking and effective.

      Awesome post, Jenni!

  • Morgan MacGavin November 3, 2011  

    All the time…it feels like some days I spend more energy trying to balance out those two things than just letting God work and me roll with it.  Really great post, Jenni…thank you!

  • Hilary Beebe November 3, 2011  

    You are totally speaking my language. 

  • Tracee November 3, 2011  

    I can get lost in the game of comparison when it comes to leadership. I am a strong leader, but get insecure looking around. It hinders me from being the leader he has uniquely wired me to be when I try become insecure or shift my focus on be  part of the crowd vs. leading them. if that makes sense. SO glad get your words today. Love your heart!

  • Andy Depuy November 3, 2011  

              I’m going to let you know how I feel about this blog. In my eyes you are both, cause I see what God is doing in your life everytime I’m at crosspoint, cause you popular and you are still being a leader. You might not think you are both. But I see something different, the reason I see this is cause you take the time to talk to everyone that wants to talk to you,but when you need to lead in a situation, you do. So weather you think you are not popular you are. God has given you the gift of leadership. Being an amazing leader, you become very popular cause you my friend listen and that is why you are both. You listen to the people you lead and that makes you popular.

  • melissa1970 November 3, 2011  


    I think there can be a flipside to this also.  I have a tendency to not really care what people think (do to my understanding that life is very short), and therefore, sometimes do not understand that I have influence.  Lots of time I don’t put enough thought into how my actions (albeit good) can affect other people.   I definitely don’t need to get caught up in the “approval trap”, but I know I definitely need to put more thought and preparation into what God calls me to sometimes.   Great post Jenni!

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  • Tamara Taylor November 5, 2011  

    Heck yes.
    There are moments when I just want to be liked and so I wont speak up about something. My small group recently became less of a Bible study and more of a social group and I’m ashamed that it got that unfocused. It took someone else to stand up and say something.

    That can’t happen.

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