“I shudder to think of that God would do something like that through me…” - George Frideric Handel
As I stood there next to the grand piano singing the "Jewel song" aria from Charles Gounod's opera, Faust, never in a million years would I think to expect the coach's next reaction to my vocal performance; he simply laughed at me during my audition.
Imagine my horror! I thought to myself, was it my dress? My odd facial expressions? My musical artistic choices?
Well, I stood there singing the aria in full character all the while fully self-editing my performance in complete humiliation. It was a teaching moment and yet a vulnerable moment, but I finished. Not long afterward, I was offered an invitation to attend the highly esteemed Aspen Music festival in the summer of 1993 under the direction of this same coach to learn and perform American works all because I made an impression on him.
I learned so much as a young performer that year, but I also learned some powerful life lessons that formed the young Dianna as well.
Looking back at years of music disciplines in theatre, auditions, coaching, vocal lessons, triumph and disappointments - the artistic process has been a healthy guide to my current landscape of leadership. Being mom of four teenage daughters, wife, church planter, pastor and community leader, I still reap the wisdom of those musical disciplines to this day.
1. Don't be afraid of what you don't know.
Just as in life, I wasn't an experienced or refined classical vocalist. I was a young talent with a big voice and ability. I didn't have an extensive repertoire of operatic roles under my belt, but I was hungry to learn. Those experienced vocal coaches enjoyed sharing and teaching vocal pedagogy, artistic nuances of a certain composition or the mindset of the composer. And, in life today, I can still apply those same disciplines; watching, observing, listening and soaking up those teaching moments of things that I don’t know.
2. Immaturity is a healthy starting point and maturity is not the end.
Being young and inexperienced is not a negative, but a natural part of the journey of learning. With natural talent, a teachable attitude and good dose of joyous humanity, the journey becomes fun instead of a dreadful pressure. As seasons pass us and you gain years of knowledge, don’t lose sight of the things that brought you to the door of your opportunity and experience. Maturity isn’t the end of our leadership journey because opportunities constantly challenge what we do know. But, I’ll say this, friend, we begin to lose when we forget how we started on our leadership and career paths. Remember, everyone starts somewhere.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17
3. Keep Jesus the center of all that you do.
I met the Jesus that composer, George Frideric Handel, wrote about in his work, Messiah. It changed the trajectory of my life so much that I changed my vocation. My life as mom, wife, and pastor, as well as the decisions I make in my area of influence, flow from my respect and honor for Jesus’ life. So, when we encounter a situational challenge or difficulty in our leadership journey, ensuring that Jesus remains the focus of that decision or response removes the shades of gray that we may encounter in our leadership world. It may not always be comfortable, but your convictions will quietly build a foundation of respect, dignity, and hidden opportunity. Friend, even if your decision or response closes a door, Jesus is that powerful to open a door which no human hand can close when you keep Him in the center of what you do.
Friend, your entire life is a canvas of creative opportunity. Keep risking, keep moving and keep learning. The wisdom you reap from beginning to end will be a rich life built by stories of hope, funny vulnerabilities, and a fearless woman. The best part is you’ll live to share it with women who will love you for it!
“Wisdom will make your life pleasant and will bring you peace.” Proverbs 3:17
Dianna is wifeing Shaun Nepstad, homeschooling 4 teenage girls, and leading Fellowship Church in Antioch, CA alongside Shaun. She currently is a communicator and teaches biblical truth at Fellowship Church through their Propel Chapter, small groups and leadership teams.