It wasn't the assignment I asked for.
Years ago, I opted to be an editor - perhaps more out of pride than anything. But when I started in journalism, I figured I'd stay a reporter until I retired.
Anyway, I've certainly discovered the ups and downs of being an editor. It can mean really long hours, stress and lots of responsibility.
I've often said that much of my character has been formed in the fiery furnace that is a newsroom.
Now, it's not that a newsroom can't be a fun place. Reporters and editors are well-read, knowledgeable, fun, smart people. But there are deadlines and pressure and equipment that doesn't always work and sources who don't call back when you need them to.
And when you're working with people, you're working with different temperaments, backgrounds, philosophies and stress-tolerance levels.
Sometimes there are fireworks in a newsroom even when you have the best people to work with and managing a group of intelligent, talented people can be a challenge at best.
Trust me when I tell you that the long hours, larger workload and potential for all kinds of "stuff" isn't something I look forward to when my boss is gone and I'm in charge.
I've been in charge for the last two weeks and after my boss was injured in a fall, it looks like I'm going to be at the helm for a while.
Knowing this, I've been doing a little reading.
The other day I paused to re-read a segment in "Front Line - A Daily Devotional Guide for Christian Leaders" by Carolyn Tennant, a teacher, preacher, administrator and writer.
The segment is called "Tea Bags."
In this segment, she compares leaders to tea bags and says that their true strength comes out under hot water. She basically says that we don't know how strong we are until a crisis occurs and then we find inner strength from God who gives us what we need to lead people.
She directs her readers to the story of Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea. It's found in the book of Exodus, chapter 14. In this account, the Israelites and their leader are in a really tough spot. On one side of them is a sea and on the other is the Egyptian army which is bearing down hard on them. The Israelites become terrified and start asking Moses the "What have you done to us" question.
But our God-following leader stays steady and tells his people to do the same.
"Do not be afraid," he says. "Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring to you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14: 13-14.)
Carolyn talks about what a brave promise this was. At this point, Moses didn't know what God was going to do.
Just continue reading the passage. It's after Moses makes his brave statement - and not before - that God tells him to raise his staff and stretch out his hand over the sea and then it will part so the Israelites can go through on dry ground to the other side.
Carolyn says how leaders often stand by themselves against incredible odds.
And like Moses, they don't have all the answers.
Yet she encourages us to stand firm (like Moses) and not give up. She also urges us not to forget God's power, creativity and ability "to perform the impossible in the face of unbelievable odds." She states how critical it is that we take a stand and know that what we need will be there in the midst of pressure - and that the people will place their trust in God and their leader.
I love Carolyn's writing and I think I need to start reading more of her devotional and to review what I've already read.
Carolyn has a great way of reminding me that leaders like Esther, David and Nehemiah faced great odds, but overcame them.
Because God was their strength.
And he's our strength today, too.
We just need to lean on the God who parts seas and commands us to stand firm and trust him.