Questions & Conflict

As I have spent the last 6 years of my life pursuing learning and growing as a leader, two things I have heard often is “Great leaders are always asking questions” and “Great leaders embrace conflict”. Neither one of those things come natural to me. I have tried hard to grow in both of those areas. I have taken notes on the kinds of questions other great leaders ask. I have taken notes on how people I respect handle conflict and then gone back and studied them.  I have read books about asking questions and embracing conflict. I have asked questions about asking questions but still often left feeling like I was missing something. I would often leave places frustrated at the great questions that were asked and that I hadn’t come up with any of them even when I had tried. I would often question God with “Am I just not worried to think like that?” “Am I not smart enough to think the way other’s think?” It would leave me frustrated and feeling like a failure.

Yesterday I had an interaction with my father at the hospital as we were sitting in the waiting room that caused me to have an epiphany. He simply said “somebody needs to take that kid out and make him mind” I hadn’t even noticed the child. I had to look around to figure out what he was talking about. The child was running around a bit right around the adult he was with but wasn’t making any noticeable noise and the adult didn’t seem bothered but was engaging him in the play. My father saw it as misbehaving. I saw it as being a child. Later that day I had another discussion with my father that caused me to realize I had been taught my whole life that questioning authority and engaging in conflict were disrespectful and inappropriate.  My inability to ask “good questions” and “embrace conflict” wasn’t because I wasn’t capable, it was because I had unknowingly accepted a mindset that questioning and conflict were bad. I had been taught my whole life that children are to be seen and not heard. They should sit quietly and respect their elders. When an adult tells you something, never question them. When conflict arises, turn the other cheek.

Even though that was not what I had taught my own children or even what I knew to be true, I had unknowingly allowed that thought process to stay hidden in my heart somewhere. Even though my desire was to become a better leader, my upbringing and the mindsets that were so ingrained that I didn’t even realize were there, were preventing me from letting go of the fear of being considered disrespectful, mean, and arrogant.

Realizing there is a problem is only half the solution. If all I do is admit I am wrestling with the wrong mindset, I won’t grow. I have to develop a plan for how to overcome that mindset when I feel it creeping in. That got me thinking…what things in our past…thought processes, belief systems, failures, or even successes have hindered us from growing to the next level? And what are you doing to prevent those things from being a hinderance.

Tweetable Leadership # 337

#337 Fear is Faith in Reverse


Fear has always been one of those battles I have struggled with. I can remember as a child sleeping with a baton in the bedrail beside me so that if anyone came in at night to get me, I could hit them over the head with it. Yes, I’m serious. At a young age that was what I thought about.In college I even had my own paperbag that my friends and I had decorated with scriptures to remind me not to fear. I took with me everywhere in case I had a panic attack and started hyperventaling. As I got older and had children, I can remember the first night I was home alone with all three of my kids. Up  to this point I had a plan if there was a home invasion. I only had 2 kids and 2 hands, but now there were 3 kids, what would I do? Fear had this incredible way of gripping my heart and paralyzing my body!

I knew fear was from the enemy but I couldn’t shake it no matter how hard I tried. I can remember talking to my kids about how the enemy attacks the you in a way that will keep you from fulfilling your destiny. There are all kinds of fear – fear of heights, fear of enclosed spaces, fear of bugs, snakes, and spiders, fear of failure, fear of man, but it all FEAR!

Fear says when things get hard “I can’t do it” – Faith says if God told me to do it, He will make a way.

Fear says when you hear you have cancer “I am going to die” – Faith says “my days are number by God”.

Fear says when opportunities present themselves “What if I fail?” – Faith says “What if I succeed?”

I heard another quote by Jim Wideman that amplifies the very idea that Fear is Faith in Reverse…The Isrealites saw the Giant and thought “He’s too big to kill” David saw the Giant and thought ” He’s too big to miss!”

The greatest turn around for me was when I started repeating outloud “The perfect love of Jesus cast out all fear!” everytime I felt fear rising up. I didn’t have trouble believing God loved me…SO I JUST HELD ON TO WHAT I COULDNT ARGUE WITH. His word does change things even when we don’t understand how and changes our perspective.

What things in your life have you allowed fear to overcome your faith? What steps will you take to change your perspective?

*Comment for a chance to win a free copy of Tweetable Leadership by Jim Wideman

#244 Rather than sitting back and feeling sorry for yourself, learn to be like David and encourage yourself in the Lord.

Another great quote from Tweetable Leadership by Jim Wideman.

freely-10190I quit! Have you ever woken up on a Monday morning, rolled over and heard those were the words churning in your head? If you haven’t you either aren’t human, aren’t in ministry or just got in ministry. By Sunday afternoon the enemy can take a tough Sunday morning and turn it into the failure of the milleninium.  There may have been 100 things that went right but the one thing that went wrong has grown into this impossible mountain that you just can’t face on Monday morning. You feel like a total failure and are sure God made His first mistake when He put you in this place of leadership.

So every Monday morning you have a choice – do you sit back and feel sorry for yourself? I mean that sounds like a good idea. I have done everything I know to do. I have worked 80 hours last week, I have emailed, called, sent out reminders via snail mail, and resorted to smoke signal to make sure volunteers knew the information but somehow they still didn’t get the information they needed and they are upset. Surely raising the white flag of surrender and wallowing in self pity is justified. Right? I mean no one is coming to my defense. My volunteers and staff are angry and against me, the parents are against me, even my pastor is telling me I need to fix this.  I has to be time to just give up.

Maybe not, maybe it is time for you to learn to encourage yourself in the Lord. I remember coming home one Sunday afternoon and feeling this Monday morning blues hitting earlier and with more force than usual. I made a decision, I remembered where it said David encouraged himself in the Lord. I put on some worship music and just began to worship and cry out to God. Suddenly I realized all the volunteers that were against me turned out to be one that really had just had a bad morning, the parent that was mad at me was just upset and needed an explanation for a valid misunderstanding, and my pastor was anything but against me. He was just trying to help. I was able to gain some perspective when I got over myself and got before my creator. How much grief and useless frustration to we allow ourselves to wallow in before we choose to encourage ourselves in the Lord. We don’t need someone to pat us on the back and say “Good Job!” – althought it’s nice! We don’t need everything to go right every Sunday. – Although it’s nice when it does! We don’t need every person we come in contact with to think we are the greatest thing since sliced bread. – Although it would make life easier.

If you are waiting for those things and dependent on those things to find peace, what happens when it doesn’t come. You have to know how to encourage yourself so that you do not NEED and are not dependent on the praise of someone else.

So how to do you encourage yourself in the Lord?

#28 Effectiveness in ministry starts and ends with loving people.

9276_LOVEWow! What a novel thought right? I mean surely everyone knows that! YOU. ARE. IN. MINISTRY! Seems like an obvious thing but when I heard Jim say it, it was clear this was something he lived not just said.

I think sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in the task of ministry that we forget to slow down and truly care for the people in our ministry.  I think there are many reasons for it but here are a few of the ones I found in my life.

  1. Guilt of the ASK – I felt so guilty about asking people to do stuff for the ministry that I spent all my time doing stuff others could do so I had no time to invest in people. When I finally realized people wanted to be needed and started going for the ask, I suddenly had plenty of time to care for my team and the people in our ministry.
  2. The Lack of Time Management – Sunday comes every week! There is no break to catch up and get ahead. I had taught school for years and was used to having rhythms and breaks built into my schedule, but when ministry came along, there were no breaks to get caught up or get ahead. I quickly realized I could not keep going the way I had always done it and realized time management was crucial if I wanted to keep going and find time for all the stuff to get done and care for the people. Which on another note let me shamelessly plug another one of Jim’s books Beat the Clock Best book ever on time management. Practical Steps anyone can do.
  3. The realization that Sheep Bite – I was not prepared for the brutalness of ministry. I am by nature a very transparent, trusting person. I had no idea what it was like to be on staff at a church and have your every motive questioned by those you geniunely loved and were trying to help. Have you ever seen a kid get bitten by a dog? They tend to become a bit fearful of all dogs because they don’t want to get bitten again. I think we in ministry are often like that little kid. A sheep bites and all the sudden all sheep must bite so we feel the need to keep our defenses up to protect ourselves. Just remember God said He is our defender and our job is to love.

The greatest command is to Love God with all of our hearts and the second is to love others as ourselves. If we lose that, we lose the purpose of why we do what we do. So tell me, what do you do on a weekly basis that shows people in your ministry that you geniunely love them?

#10 Experience is the best teacher, but it doesn’t have to be your experiences that you learn from

2985_alps2So many times in ministry and in life we feel like we have to figure it all out on our own. We try something it doesn’t work, so we try something else….or you just keep trying the same thing because you haven’t figured out what you are doing isn’t working. But what if someone had gone before you and already tried some of the same stuff and failed already? What if you could rule out a handful of things that didn’t work and go ahead and move on to something no one else has ever tried?

I was not great at networking 3 years ago before I went through Infuse with Jim Wideman and if I am being totally honest I am still not great at it but I am better than I was. And as a result of Infuse I have learned the value of networking. There was a wealth of knowledge I learned from Jim’s experience and from the experiences of all the other’s who were a part of Infuse with me.

Today I continue to learn from their experience because many of them became friends in ministry that I go to as a resource, some occasionally, some often, some almost daily. Sometimes my learning comes from asking questions about other’s experience other times it comes from just doing life close enough that I celebrate their successes and feel the pain of their failures.

So my question for today, what has been one learning opportunity you have gained from someone else’s experience?

Tweetable Leadership

Square_Book_01-300x300Three years ago I went through Jim Wideman’s coaching network, Infuse. It felt like every time I heard him talk he would drop a nugget of truth that weeks later I was still chewing on.  I’d have sticky notes everywhere with “Jimisms” written out and posted all over my office. I would ponder on these things until I felt like I had gotten what I needed and then move on to the next one. Recently Jim sent me his new book, Tweetable Leadership. It was like reading all my sticky notes without the mess and clutter and filled with so many more I had not even heard. What an amazing resource.

This book contains over 500 incredible quotes from Jim on leadership, ministry, and life. It is like having a little bit of each of his books all in one place. Tweetable Leadership releases October 1st but you can preorder it now at

There are so many amazing quotes in this book and so much valuable bite size tidbits that I thought it desired it’s own party.  I thought to celebrate the release of his book, we would have some fun. Over the next week I will be sharing my favorite “Jimism” from Tweetable Leadership. Each day I will give away 1 free download of his new book and on the last day will also give away an actual copy of the book.

So how do you enter? Glad you asked! Each day I will leave you with a different question, answer the question and then share that post on facebook or twitter. You can start today by telling me what your favorite Jim Wideman book is and why it is your favorite. Ready? Go!

Help me spread the word about this amazing new resource for leaders.

Power of Praise

L4AS0Y1OT2I was driving down the road the other day and out of no where I remembered this song I first heard in college. The chorus is pretty simple but has stuck in my head for over 20 years.

It’s the power of praise,

the power of praise.

When led by God’s spirit,

It’s a mighty refrain.

It flows with a force,

That carries the current of change.

The power of praise.

Now clearly this song was written in regards to what happens when we praise our creator but it got me thinking…if it’s true about praising our creator, could this situation apply to other areas of our lives. Proverbs 18:21 states “The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat it’s fruits.” If our words have the power of life and death, then that means we have the power of life and death when we speak. So how often do you speak in a given day? How many of those words bring life? How many of them bring death?

Let’s get a little more specific, how many words in a given day do you speak to your child? It is said that for every negative comment it takes at least 4 positive comments to erase the effects on 1 negative comment. Think about that in your own personal life, what if you just completed a major project at work and all your coworkers were talking about how good of a job you did, yet one person came up to you at the end of the day and pointed out the one thing that did not go the way you wanted it to go and said “what an idiot, I can’t believe you thought that would work!” How would you react? I know for me, I would spend the next few hours trying to convince myself I didn’t need to focus on the one negative comment but on the big picture and the overall success but the truth is that one negative comment would replay in my head over and over again the rest of the night.

So what if we used the power of our words to change the atmosphere around our kids. I am not on the bandwagon of “they are all winners because we don’t want to hurt their self esteem” but what if we spoke God’s truth over our kids and instead of the world’s truth. We praise them for the potential we see in them and speak God’s truth over them. Trade in the frustrated response “What were you thinking?” with “You have the mind of Christ, I believe you will make better choices in the future.”  Yes, I realize that is much easier said than done, but no one ever said doing what was right was easy.

So here is my challenge to you this week. Speak (not just think) the God’s truth over your kids. Go ahead do it! You can even share it in the comments here so that I can read them and get in agreement with you.

Season Setbacks

D8-A007_C069_0225SG-300x169It’s late March and down south we have been enjoying weeks of warm weather as spring has come upon us. Today, however, we woke up to a nice chill in the air. Actually, it was just COLD, 29 degrees cold! As I listen to the news this morning, I heard the strawberry farmers talking about being up all night spraying water on the strawberry blossoms to keep from losing their harvest. I rode by strawberry farms on the way to church and saw the sprinklers and the farmers busy at work. Even though it was 29 degrees outside today, it was still spring. Winter was over and although we had been enjoying the nice 70 degree weather of spring, in a moment, it was taken away and it felt like winter again……but it wasn’t!

Have you ever felt like God was moving you into a new season of life only to wake up one morning and feel like you were right back where you were in the last season of your life? I have! Volunteer recruitment taking off, momentum building, and then the text message that says “by the way next month will be our last month serving!” All the sudden spring feels like winter again.

But today as I drove by the strawberry farms this morning, I gained a new insight into the seasons of our lives. You see, winter didn’t return to the Carolinas over night. It is still spring, though it feels like winter outside. And the harvest that had already been planted and was starting to bloom will not be destroyed as long as the farmers tend to the blossoms during this short cold snap we are experiencing. In a few short days it will be 70 degrees again, farmers will get to sleep at night again and the crop will be saved. But had the farmers just given up and not done anything as the temperatures dropped back to a “winter like pattern” they would have lost their entire crop.

How many times do we loose our crop because we give up hope? The new thing God is doing in our lives is lost because we don’t tend to the crop when winter temperatures return. We feel the tide turning, the season shifting and then a set back that causes us to throw our hands up in the air and give up. Next time you see God moving you into a new season and you get hit with a set back, refuse to give up, determine to tend the crop that had started growing and stand strong until the set back has passed and the season of spring has returned.

Reflections – Leadership Lessons

6753_Storytelling-1024x681Today marked my 6 year anniversary of being in ministry and on staff at my current church. I couldn’t help
but reflect today on those last 6 years and what I have learned. Here are few things that stood out.

You need people in your life that do what you do outside of your city that you trust.

The last 6 years have brought some of the most incredible and most difficult times in my life both in my church and personal life. The church had always been where I  ran when life got hard. I grew up in the church I now serve in so I quickly realized when I came on staff my role had changed and people needed to see me trusting God in the midst of crisis not floundering to find my faith. I couldn’t vent my pain and struggle to the people who had been my confidant in the past – they now saw me as their pastor whether I felt like it at the moment or not. I needed people outside my city who loved me, understood me and had some idea of what it was like to be in my position. People that would pray for me, encourage me and challenge me.

You need a hobby!

Church was my hobby. I was a teacher and had 3 kids. I was a part of the worship team at our church. It was my escape. It was where I went to be around adults and find peace in His presence. When I first came on staff I didn’t want to leave work. I loved being at church. I loved being around the staff. I just couldn’t imagine any place I’d rather be because my family would come to the office to be with me there as well. My boss kept saying “Find a hobby” It took a while for me to realize my need for it but when I felt burn out coming that was when I finally took him seriously. My hobbies changes depending on the season but I no longer doubt my need for a hobby!

Your job does not take the place of your personal walk with Christ.

I got so busy at church doing the work OF the ministry I forgot WHO I was doing the ministry for. If I am not having intimate personal time with the Lord, I lose my passion, my purpose and my vision for my ministry. It becomes nothing more than a lifeless job that I am simply going through the motions to fulfill. It looks like ministry. It smells like ministry. It may even taste like ministry. But it certainly doesn’t feel like ministry or yield fruit like ministry that is lead by the Holy Spirit working inside of you will.

You don’t always get to or need to respond to your accusers (even when you want to).

Hardest lesson ever! We went through a very painful time as a church when our church split and  our staff (especially our senior pastor) were accused of some despicable things that were not even remotely a tiny bit true. I remember my pastor sitting the staff down and reminding us of the story of Jesus when he chose not to respond to his accusers. I am ok with walking away and not responding when people make false accusations against me, but when you start talking about my kids, my pastor or my pastor’s kids that’s a whole different ballgame! It was hard. 

People don’t care what you know til they know that you care.

When I first came on staff I was so excited about saving the world and making our children’s ministry the best place for a child to be on Sunday morning I totally forgot about the volunteers that were helping me accomplish that dream. Six years later there are a handful of volunteers that are serving on my team that were serving when I first started and I thank them often for sticking with me. I am sad to say that if you asked me details about the people who served on my team 6 years ago, I am not sure I could answer much of anything. Today I work hard to show my team I care about them and their families. I still care about the task of saving our city and making Sunday morning a kids favorite place to be but today I do it WITH my team not in spite of my team.

Leaders ask questions…a lot of questions.

Asking questions does not come natural to me, if I know how to fix it, my natural tendency is to just take over and fix it. If my boss or someone tells me to do something, my natural tendency is to say OK even if I don’t like it or understand it…mostly because I have never been a fan of confrontation. But I have learned leaders ask lots of questions. They are constant learners. They don’t want to give you a quick answer or accept a quick answer from you. They ask questions when they know the right answer or the right thing to do so that other’s can come to the right answer on their own and next time will not need that leader there to walk them through the same issue. They ask questions when they don’t know the answers or understand why because they know anything worth doing can suffer no harm if it is questioned.  Even if the explanation is simply “I believe God told me to do it”

Six years from now I am sure I will have a whole new list of things I have learned that as of today I have never even thought of. So what about you? What have your greatest lessons in ministry been?

They Were Never Ours Anyway

helen21Last year I spent some time studying the life of David. As I studied his life, I got hung up on one phrase that he said as he was about to fight Goliath. He told Samuel in 1 Samuel 17:37 “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” Most scholars say David was 12-15 years old when he killed Goliath. That means before he was 15 years old, he had already killed a lion and a bear with his bare hands.

I started thinking about what that really meant. What would I have done if my 12 year old son showed up all bloody after being out in the field? I probably would have said “Honey it is too dangerous for you. Why don’t you stay here and we will let one of your older brothers go.” I don’t know about you, but as a mother of 3, I want to keep my kids safe, protect them from the dangers of the world and from all the things that could hurt them. But what if David’s mom or dad would have done that? Would David have been able to trust God when the time came to kill Goliath? If he had been protected from all the “potential danger” that awaited him in the field tending his father’s sheep would He have known God could be counted on to show up for him with Goliath?

That got me thinking. When did my faith journey really become MY faith journey? It wasn’t when I sang a solo in front of the whole church in children’s choir, or even when I walked the aisle to accept Jesus as my savior. It wasn’t at some great youth conference where I heard a great life changing message. Don’t get me wrong, all of those things were important, but all of those things can fade with time. I had grown up in church, accepted Christ at 5, felt called into ministry in middle school and then had walked away from it all because I wasn’t sure it was real.

My faith became real when I was sitting in a room about to testify in a court proceeding. I felt scared, alone, and hopeless. I remember my pastor praying for me as I crumbled in my daddy’s arms crying hysterically during a recess. As he prayed something happened. I knew instantly it was the peace of God. I felt Him, I knew He was there and I finished my testimony without fear, without intimidation and with the confidence of God. When no one on the face of the earth could help – not my parents, not my pastor, not my friends, God showed up!

After that experience, I never again questioned the truth of God’s word. He had proven Himself real to me. People could argue theology all day long with me but they could not argue or marginalize what I had experienced.

We spend so much time talking about the faithfulness of God, his protection and provision but so little time allowing God to be those things for our kids. We say we trust Him, but do our actions demonstrate that we trust Him? What if God wants to show up in the lives of our kids when they are young so that when they are older they can depend on Him to show up? What if by overprotecting our kids from every danger of this world, we are actually pushing them toward it because they are not learning to rely on the ONE who can save them? Do you trust God enough to allow Him to be God in the life of your child?