An Interview with Harriet Cheema-Grubb
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I split my time between London, where I’ve grown up, and Durham, where I’m studying for a degree in Modern Languages. I love to travel and meet new people - studying languages affords me the wonderful opportunity to spend next year working and studying in Austria and Italy, which I’m very excited about!
Alongside my degree I fence for Durham, pursue art history, literary and photography interests, and I’m part of the university Christian Union. I love relationships because I think they can be such a reflection of the Father’s love for us, and I’m passionate about seeing my fellow students come to know Jesus. Last year, myself and another student organised a carol service in Durham’s thousand year old cathedral where 2500 students heard the good news. Over the last seven months I’ve been part of organising ‘Story’ - a week of events hosted by the CU. This year we’re doing it a little differently than it’s been done in the past, and inviting students to explore the Christian story by asking them ‘what’s your story?’. I’m running the social media campaign and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.
What does it mean to you, to be a leader/influencer?
They’re almost two different things. You can be a visible leader and have influence, but each one of us is an influencer - even if we’re not ‘leaders’. We have spheres of influence, mission fields, areas where we can shape the atmosphere with how we speak and act. We are each surrounded by people who - whether we know it or not - are impacted by the way we carry ourselves, and that to me is being an influencer - recognising that and wanting to effect change in environments I find myself in, by constantly modelling myself on Christ, living out of His love for me and for every person I meet.
The Bible beautifully encapsulates what it really means to be a leader. Jesus came as the most powerful and revolutionary portrayal of leadership ‘not to be served but to serve’ (Mark 10:45). Being a leader means being humble, and not merely being willing to serve but desiring only to do so; embracing your weakness because in doing so you embrace His strength.
A year or so ago I was challenged by how much I conformed to society’s view of leadership - that is, the ideal of having some kind of position or platform and the power that accompanies it. Matthew 5:14-16 says ‘You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.’ I love that final sentence because it captures what it really looks like to lead, or be an influencer, for Christ - yes, being a city set on a hill for all to see. But that everyone who sees you and knows you is pointed straight to Him. Often we get enchanted by leadership opportunities and the chance to shine for ourselves, but in truth I don’t want to ever be leading someone anywhere but Jesus, because He alone sustains me and is my joy and my salvation - I’m nowhere near perfect but He is! So, being a leader is using my voice for God’s glory and not my own.