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Let's Talk - Melissa Hartmann

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Ever have it where someone asks you a question and your mind goes completely blank?  Like, no matter how hard you try, you can’t think of an answer even though you know you know the answer?  That was me when I was asked to be a part of this community and write a blog.  It took me weeks to think of something worth writing about.  If I’m honest I sort of have negative feelings towards blogs.  I think it’s because it’s becoming more and more of “the thing to do” and as much as I am a supporter of everybody having their own voice, I think some of us don’t need to voice every single thing we think.  So here I am… writing a blog… exposing my thoughts to the world!

It’s funny, I was talking with a good friend a few weeks back about vulnerability and opening up to people that we feel are safe.  A little history about me, I am the Worship Pastor at my church in a little beach town called Penticton.  I was recently invited to speak at my church and most would think that for someone who is in front of the congregation almost every Sunday singing, this should be no problem.  But it actually made me want to throw up and the thought of it still makes me a little sick.  For me, singing in front of crowds doesn’t really bother me anymore.   I could lead a whole worship service and not really give it a second thought.  But the idea of having to open up to people and actually speak what’s on my heart and be vulnerable, I would rather do anything else!

It got me thinking as to why it is so tough for us to be vulnerable with each other.  Maybe it’s because some of us have tried to be vulnerable in the past which resulted in a negative, hurtful reaction.  Maybe for others it’s because it requires a lot of mental energy.  Maybe some of us have low self-esteem and don’t believe people would be interested.  I know a big thing that holds a lot of us back from being vulnerable is shame, either resulting from past mistakes or just an unhealthy identity we have for ourselves.

Shame is such a nasty little guy.  It gets into every area of our lives and it likes to have its say in everything we do.  I would even go as far to say that shame, if it’s resulting from a form of addiction or mistake, is more harmful than the actual act itself.  It creates an isolation in us, and makes our failure look so much bigger than it is, which ends up resulting in us not wanting to be vulnerable and open up to those close to us since we fear that we will be met with the same thing we are being told in our minds.

But believe me when I tell you from my own experience that it is almost never the case.  In fact, when I opened up to some of my close friends about what I was experiencing, I found out that many of them were actually going through the exact same thing!  And suddenly, this shame cloud I was experiencing started to diminish.  It’s power and hold over my thoughts and view of myself began to lose its strength and I was able to step into the freedom and clarity that God intended for me.  I love how Isaiah 50:7 says, “But the Lord God keeps me from being disgraced. So I refuse to give up, because I know God will never let me down.”  God is on our side and He will never leave!  As scary as it is to be vulnerable with people, I believe it almost always results in a new level of freedom and a clearer view of who we really are in Christ.

I’m not saying we have to open up to every single person and air out our dirty laundry.  In fact, I believe we need to be very careful and discerning with who we allow into our inner circle.  But let me encourage you to be vulnerable and honest and raw with those you are close to you.  I am nowhere near perfect at doing this.  I am so far from expert at opening up to people, it freaks me out.  But I know God intended us to be in community with each other.  I know that it scares the enemy when we are vulnerable because it means that the hold that shame has over us loses its power.

We’re all in this together girls! xoxo

Melissa Hartmann

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Greatly Loved - Elyse Brouwer

woman on bridge in a forest

A few weeks ago, I had a FaceTime conversation with another young female leader living in a different province. She and I had a conversation about God, rest, work, life… one of those conversations that reminds you that time really does fly when you’re having fun. 

At the end of our call, she asked for a word that she could keep in mind when praying for me. After a few seconds of thought, I said, “Love. Love is my word.”

In that moment, I wasn’t sure why I said “love,” as beautiful and wonderful and deeply complex as the word is. Just a few days later, though, the question of why God would put love on my mind was answered as I was reading from the book of Daniel. In just a few verses, I was profoundly reminded of the importance of love in leadership:

“He made me understand, speaking with me and saying, ‘O Daniel, I have now come out to give you insight and understanding. At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.’” (Daniel 9:22-23a)

“And he said to me, ‘O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.’” (Daniel 10:11)

You are greatly loved… Man greatly loved

Not man of great visions and insight. Not man of great talents and abilities. Not man of powerful influence. Man greatly loved.

This made me pause and think about the place of love in a leader’s life. The love of God has profound implications for the way we lead, two of which I want to highlight: first, our identification as “one greatly loved,” and second, identifying those we lead as “greatly loved.”

Identifying ourselves as women greatly loved by God is paramount for healthy leadership. It reminds us that our value is not based on our accomplishments, performance, or influence; our value is rooted in being recipients of God’s gracious love. Being secure in this identity gives us joy, confidence, and courage in our leadership; at the same time, it is the antidote to insecurity, envy, and comparison. Love also makes us resilient leaders: when we make mistakes, or get discouraged, it doesn’t have to overwhelm or devastate us; we know that regardless of what’s going on around us, we are deeply loved – and that’s enough.

Identifying those we lead as greatly loved is also crucial to godly leadership. I was invited to preach at a retreat, not too long ago, when God had to gently remind me to love the people in the audience, no matter what the response to the message was. Our advice may get ignored, our concerns dismissed, or our appointments cancelled last minute (or stood up). Worse, we may get hurt, let down, or blindsided… It’s in these moments that we forget that we’re shepherds called to love our flock regardless of how they behave, just as God loves us regardless of how well we follow Him. Love is key, love is paramount, love is “the greatest of these” (1 Cor. 13:13). We could be the most gifted, charismatic leader around, and yet without love, we’d be missing the point. Love transforms how we treat those we lead.

So I invite you to reflect on two questions today, in prayer and time spent with God:

1. What is your identity as a leader rooted in?

2. How can you better love those that you are leading?

As you consider them, may you be challenged, encouraged, and blessed by the answers that God reveals to you!

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Talk about a Balanced Life? Are You Crazy? - Karen Milley

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A good friend of mine called me several weeks ago and asked if I would speak to a bunch of young pastors about work life balance. My response, I laughed out loud. “Me, are you joking?” Why did I laugh so loudly? Because I have only learned some work life balance because I had to.

Let me explain ..

For most of my pastoring journey I took it on by the horns. I worked at least 60 hours a week, sacrificed time with my husband, my extended family and my friends to serve the church. I was working for Jesus which brought me great joy but it came at a great price. I lived a very unbalanced and unhealthy life.

THEN our world was flipped upside down when my husband and I brought home our daughter, Deepika from India in February 2014. My world as I knew it came to a dead stop as we adjusted to being a family of three!

In May of that same year I returned to pastoring. I tried to learn how to be both a mom and a pastor. While I was doing that, our daughter was trying to find her way. She did not adjust well to being in a family, to Canadian life, to school or to church. We saw her struggle every day. Then this thought came to me (which I believe was from the Holy Spirit), “what is the point if I am a good pastor but a lousy mom?”

That thought changed my life… it changed my thinking… it changed my plans and my future. I resigned from my pastoring position that year and I went from being known as Pastor Karen to being known as Deepika’s Mom. My focus would be helping my child adjust and thrive in her new life. Now, I did get a volunteer gig so I would not lose my mind. But my first priority would be our daughter.

Work Life Balance … forced on me yet so welcomed and so needed.

In January 2017, I returned back to full time pastoral ministry as a lead pastor at an inner city church. How was I going to be a full-time pastor and be a full-time mom? Would I fall back into my habits and work like crazy? Would my daughter suffer from my need to be a good pastor?

With God’s help, I was able to set healthy boundaries. I have learned that I do not have to be at every event. I have overcome that guilt that says “you can’t leave early.” I use different methods to pastor and care for my people. I have confronted my need to be liked and realized that God’s acceptance trumps what other people think. I also get to pastor an awesome church that has welcomed us with all of our challenges and messiness. It has been a wonderful journey.

My last thought ...

Unfortunately, many churches have long praised high productivity, long hours and out of balance dedication. Many pastors’ families have paid a high and unnecessary cost for such values. Our churches should be places where our pastors can be both in ministry and be family people. As leaders, we need to model the proper priorities. I am grateful that God was able to get a hold of me and help me be a mom first, then a pastor. I would not want it any other way. The best title that I can be known for is “Deepika’s Mom.”

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Just Show Up - Hailey Armoogan

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I don’t know about you, but my life has turned out nothing like I planned it. In fact, it’s actually better than anything I could’ve imagined! Yes, there are certainly things that I thought I would have or do, that haven’t come to pass yet, and maybe never will. But I honestly can’t say that my life has been disappointing, or that God has not been faithful, or that I’ve got it all figured out.

This month will mark twenty years that I’ve been in full-time vocational Christian ministry. I’ve served in pastoral roles, been a global worker overseas, served as a ministry specialist and a host of other roles and responsibilities. I have found the sage wisdom of one of my Bible College professors to be very true, “Seize hold of every opportunity and experience that you are given, because it’s like a key that goes on a key ring, and you never know when you’ll be standing in front of a door that one of those keys will open.” 

My life and leadership journey has certainly not been a random series of events. I do believe in “calling” and I do believe that God calls people to serve Him in specific ways, for a lifetime or a season and we are asked to be obedient to Him. I’m pretty driven so I approach life, faith, calling and ministry at full-throttle. I don’t believe in doing anything half-way, but with quality, simplicity and excellence. I’m a more Hebraic than Greek thinker, in that I do actually believe that “all things are to be done unto the Lord." I’m also a pretty strategic thinker – which alas, yes, it does mean that I often overthink things. But God knows this about me, it’s how He created me and He certainly leans into it when He’s leading and directing me. I also greatly value “being” and have learned in recent years the practice and discipline of this. “Being” with God is equally, if not more important than “doing” for God. I’ve learned that God speaks loudly in my silence, that taking time to just be with God and be in His Word—not for study or teaching preparation—brings me into deeper relationship with the Father.

I’ve also learned that while we need to be strategic, thoughtful and intentional in our leadership lives, sometimes we just need to show up. Wayne Gretzky is famous for saying, “I skate to where the puck is going, not to where it’s been.” Whether we like it not, the familiar is comforting. Tradition elicits warm fuzzies and fond memories. I have been involved in ministry and leadership long enough now that I have a fair amount of experience. I’ve developed philosophies of leadership and ministry, I have tried and true approaches and can even lead in certain areas by rote – which is a little dangerous. 

There are million good things that we can invest our time, energy and passion into. I have about 20-30 really great ideas per day; truly amazing things that I can be doing to make Jesus known, build His Kingdom and basically serve humanity. But in reality, maybe two of them are actually things that God wants me to do. As great as the other 28 are, He’s actually only asking me to partner with Him in doing two. Which is really the crux of the matter, what is God inviting me to partner with Him in?  What is God inviting you to partner with Him in?

In John 5:19-20, Jesus said, “… ‘Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.’…” What is the Father doing and am I doing likewise? Or, am I trying to do my own thing – as good as it may be? Jesus is skating to where the puck is – to where the Father is leading and at work and that’s where I want to be in life and leadership. I want to be about the Father’s business. I want to show up where He is and be apart of what He is doing. But I don’t just want to show up empty handed. I want to show up with my bulky key chain of life experiences that He has given me that can open doors that He leads me to, a heart that is turned towards Him and knows how to simply be with Him and a will that is obedient to Him wherever He may lead me.

So I encourage you, to find out what the Father is doing in your life, family, church, spheres of influence and just show up ready to partner with Him.

 

Hailey Armoogan

Hailey Armoogan currently serves as the Lead Pastor of Fort Smith Pentecostal Church in Fort Smith, NWT.  She has been in full-time ministry for 20 years, having served overseas for eight years as a PAOC Global Worker in Israel, as the Children’s Specialist for PAOC International Missions and in various pastoral roles across Canada. 

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How to Lead from the Desert - Rebekah Malbrecht

cloudy sky, wooden frame on an empty beach

We all know the end of a sun-soaked beach day by heart. Bundles of big, brightly colored, slightly damp towels get shoved in along with empty coolers and over-sized umbrellas. Inflatable balls, sand-castle equipment and the sunscreen bottle that is as slick as a stick of butter gets tossed in, and in crawls every sun-kissed (or scorched), smiling face sticky with the evidence of an ice-cream that was devoured. The music is that perfect summer soundtrack and you could practically hold the Polaroid picture of pure happiness in your hand. 

Fast forward an hour or two (or a day, or a month, or half a year) or (good grief) next summer. You triple vacuumed the car. You shook out every towel, swept, rinsed, washed and packed away. Why are you still finding sand everywhere? It’s like no time has passed since that breezy day on the beach — probably because the content of every hourglass you’ve ever seen is somehow tucked into every nook and cranny of your life.

Sand sticks. It just does. And when you think you have finally eradicated it all, you turn out your pockets to find a dormant sandcastle. 

This week, I found another deposit from the sandman. Only this was no fun-in-the-sun sand. It was the sand from a wilderness I walked a few years ago. You just can’t forget the deserts. You can try but the thing is, sand sticks. 

I found myself sitting with a few women through this week who were all smack in the middle of their wilderness. They had walked the circle, worn the path and were feeling the agony of that desert place. I reached into my pocket and felt the grains of time run through my fingers. I was right back in that place, remembering the feelings and hearing the questions. I remember. 

Here are notes for a desert-wanderer from someone who has wandered a desert and still finds its sand in her hair sometimes…

In all you've come through... the many wonders, miracles and signs, the clarity of God's voice and the feeling of His presence... you are now found here. The wilderness. You may or may not know why you are here. Stinging winds blowing the earth in your face, barren wastelands, and a numb heart. Defeat seems to echo in your ears at all times telling you this is where you are meant to stay. But find strength in this: The path you are on is well worn. Many have been here, and many will come through here. All will come to find that the sand sticks.

You won’t stay there, no matter how long you’ve been roaming around. Find hope. Ask to see the sand in other people’s pockets. That sand proves they’ve seen the ground you are wearing out beneath your sandaled feet and that God brought them out. No one forgets the deserts. 

In Deuteronomy 11, God is speaking to a nation of desert-wanderers as they finally find the boundary lines of their wilderness. Israel is finally staring through the store-front windowpanes at their Promised Land. God tells them to “love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him and to hold fast to him” (Deut 11:22 NIV). These are the things the wilderness begs of us to learn by heart. God tells the bedraggled wilderness-wandering Israelites to remember.

Then He says something every desert-wanderer needs to hear: “Every place where you set your foot will be yours: Your territory will extend from the desert…” (Deut 11:24a). He says, “It starts here. You own this desert. This is where the Promised Land begins for you and everywhere you step from this point on is ground you can claim.” 

One thing that tends to happen in the barren wastelands our souls encounter is we lose sight of the victory we've been given. We hit those sandstorms in our lives and suddenly the earth beneath our feet becomes more powerful than the One who created it. Take heart, the land does not own you. You will one day sit across from a desert-wanderer and she will need you to turn out your pockets to see that there is hope. You will be able to do that because you own that land.

God made sure that sand sticks.

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Why I Love Being in Leadership - Tammy Junghans

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I love being in leadership because I can easily say “If I can grow into this then you can too.” 

As a Mission Canada worker and a student, I lead a university ministry that began eight years ago and serves our campus and beyond. Segue, our student community, is passionate about helping students transition well, building a strong faith community on campus and addressing issues of injustice. We have over 100 nations represented on our campus, many of these students will return to their nations and use what they learn here to impact their communities. We are leading and investing in leaders who already have influence and can impact far beyond our reach.

Of course, there are many pieces to my story but this chapter began when I was a 34 year old stay-at-home mom of four with little post-secondary education and what I perceived as even less experience in leading. At that time the little confidence I did have was not in my capacity to accomplish great things, but in the “knowing” of where I was supposed to go, who I was to serve and a deep trust that God would show the way forward. I began this chapter with saying “I’m not this” and “I don’t know anything about that.” I have learned that in everything that I am not I know that God is, including my ability to lead well.

I love being in leadership because I love influencing.

I have found that in the process of serving and caring for others my sphere of influence has given me a voice into issues I never would have had. I do not serve and care in order to build influence but I love using whatever influence I have to advocate for those in need and to shift the culture around us.

Partnering with others who share my passion also increases influence and builds a strong voice to combat injustice and to speak hope and love into the lives of the people around us. We can use our influence to change culture and to change lives.

I love being in leadership because I love networking.

Networking is one of my strongest gifts. I love not just meeting and discovering the amazing things about people but also connecting them with others. Using my networks can look like:
-     Connecting students with people in their fields of study
-     Connecting student leaders from our campus with leaders on other campuses
-     Connecting students with mental health resources they need
-     Connecting with global and local pastors and leaders sending students to our campus
-     Connecting students with local churches
-     Connecting students with issues of injustice and those who are working on the front lines
      to combat them.

I love being in leadership because I love watching lives transform.

Leading students allows me the opportunity to invest in their lives, to call out the great things I see in them and coach them in pruning back the areas that need new and healthy growth. I love seeing students grow in their capacity to love and serve well and encouraging these burgeoning leaders to use their passion, time, money and their education not to just build a life for themselves but to share it with others. Discipling, coaching and mentoring students brings me joy!

I love being in leadership because I love sharing. 

I love sharing my life, my struggles, my joys and my stories. I love sharing my networks, influence, passion, love for God and love for others. I love sharing the leadership lessons I am learning along the way, sharing the load, including students in decision making, walking with them as they learn to love and serve well and releasing them to lead.

At the start of this chapter eight years ago, my first day of class as a University student was also the first day of Kindergarten for our youngest daughter. My husband jokes that he should have bought us matching Hello Kitty lunch kits. Well, this year I am blessed to have my oldest daughter serve and grow alongside me on the campus as a student leader in our community. Everything I share as I lead students I also share with my children as they grow in loving and serving God and others. I can say honestly say to them that “if I can grow into this then you can too.”

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Go for Gold - Kaitlyn Cey

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The 2018 Winter Olympics have captivated the globe with stories of resilient athletic leaders going for gold! The Canadian women’s hockey team was a deflated crew as they received their silver medals in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, February 22, 2018. Jocelyn Larocque, a player on the Canadian team, refused to wear her silver medal for almost an hour. When asked why she couldn’t bear to put it on, the Globe and Mail reports she responded by saying, “Just hard… we were going for gold.” Years of training, discipline and sweat are necessary to compete with the elite. Gold is the goal and it requires sacrifice.

What does it mean to go for gold? Is it worth it?

Eight years ago I was a volunteer at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, along with thirty others. The experience was part of the Christian Leadership program we were enrolled in that year called Kaleo. I remember the exuberance of the Opening Ceremonies as the Olympic hopefuls proudly represented their countries. The pursuit of the podium was fierce for each one.

On the same day of the celebratory opening, the excitement was zapped from the Olympic atmosphere when one Georgian luger crashed and died during a training run. Nodar Kumaritashvili became the fourth athlete to die during Winter Olympic preparations and the seventh to die at either Summer or Winter Olympic games.

Gold was Nodar’s highest aim. He would never see the podium; He wouldn’t even compete. Were the years of training, discipline, and dedication a waste?

I don’t know.

Did Nodar embrace the process of becoming an Olympic athlete with gratitude, joy and personal growth or did he feel like he would never be fulfilled until he reached the podium? Did he live to get to the Olympic games or did the journey to the games give him life? I don’t know.

That year, my classmates and I learned that powerful leaders are always learners. The most enjoyable and best retained learning is not most profoundly motivated by the end result, but by the process of growing: transformation.

It takes faith and courage to set lofty goals, to develop a strategic plan and to “go for gold” in life. However, with eyes set on the future it’s easy to miss the life given today. Great goals can be met while the joy of experiencing relationship with Jesus is forfeited.

When the Israelites travelled in the desert, God provided new manna for each day. They couldn’t eat what was left from the day before and by the next day they would need fresh manna once again.

Leadership 101 says: Plan with the end in mind.

The Israelites did plan with the end in mind, following the fiery pillar each day, while hoping for the Promised Land ending.

Yes, plan with the end in mind but know that the end you have in mind might never come. While glorious ends may be in mind, remember to keep the present the priority. Richard Foster writes in his book, Prayer, “The only place God can bless us is right where we are, because that is the only place we are.”

The end you hope for might disappoint, disorient or confuse you. No one could have guessed Nodar’s life would end before he reached his great goal.

The Israelites’ were learning greater things than any accomplished goal could compare to. They learned to trust God while they tarried hot desert days. The manna in their hands was the daily provision that kept them going and encouraged their weary hearts.

Like the Israelites, you can’t store up manna from yesterday and you can’t eat tomorrow’s manna today. There is new freedom, joy and vitality available through intimacy with Jesus every day. Letting the character of God’s heart shape yours is the greatest goal of all and most beneficial to you, and to the world.

Plan with the end in mind and manna in hand and you will find gold that lasts into eternity.

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Kaitlyn is a passionate joy chaser, beauty hunter and vibrant learner! Her commitment to experience and spread the love of God infuses her unique bi-vocational career as Educator and Pastor with innovation. Through her work, play, rest and writing, Kaitlyn endeavors to promote the growth, engagement and flourishing of all people.

Kaitlyn loves to gather people around dinner tables and God-given purposes. She fosters learning environments that cultivate resiliency, belonging and collaboration. She believes relationships are the heartbeat of any powerful life, worthwhile cause and thriving community. Kaitlyn is the founder of Mirror Mirror YXE, a ministry that aims to equip young women with empowered identity and belonging so they will impact the world in God-designed ways.

Kaitlyn grew up on a farm in rural Saskatchewan and adores the lively sunsets and wild canola fields that paint the prairies. She enjoys running paths along rivers, playing hockey with friends, steamed milk, bright spring flowers, painting, playing with her beautiful niece and learning from diverse people and voices.

Connect:
Online: www.kaitlyncey.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kaitlyn.cey
Instagram: @kaitcey

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Leading Myself - Vinetta Sanderson

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Quaker author Parker Palmer said, “A leader is a person who must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside of himself or herself… lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.”

Leaders often lead others better than they lead themselves! They give themselves away to people, to projects, to pursuits and in the process, they can lose their spiritual passion! There is something energizing and fulfilling in doing what we enjoy… exercising the gifts God has given us… serving, giving, organizing, leading, teaching, encouraging, or caring for and helping people. And God intends for us to use these gifts! We are called to serve others and make a difference. It’s all good except when we begin to let what we DO fill, fire and fuel us rather than pursuing Christ alone as our source of empowering and the center of our joy. Working hard for God will never be a substitute for the personal relationship God wants with us or the work God desires to do in us.

How does one lose that spiritual passion that once burned within? Rarely is it a sudden extinguishing blow but a gradual neglect of tending your own fire! We know that an untended fire is soon reduced to a pile of ashes.  You cannot give what you do not have.

In many ways, we in church leadership, have bought into the world’s high-performance expectations. Leaders measure other leaders by accomplishments but who is asking, “Is it well with your soul?” Accountability for what we do is beneficial, but accountability for our soul’s well-being is crucial. When leaders do not regularly tend their spiritual fire, demands distract from devotion to God leading to depletion, disappointment, discouragement, and even indifference. We never intend to let the passion wane or the fire diminish but an untended spiritual life inevitably results in spiritual weakness and often disaster.

We learn personal leadership best from Jesus. While he was involved with people, he often got away from the crowds and occasionally even from his disciples to spend time alone with His Father. He prayed often. He replenished regularly. He could not afford to be distracted or depleted. He refused to compare himself to anyone nor did He concern himself with the Pharisees’ accusations or expectations. He neither rushed nor hurried. He was never too busy meeting the needs around him to the neglect of fellowship with His Father. Jesus was not driven to perform or succeed in the eyes of man. He simply and humbly obeyed God. He followed His Father’s lead and taught His disciples the necessity of tending their own soul. “What do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are lost or destroyed?” (Luke 9:25)

Personally, I have learned, leading ourselves spiritually is not so difficult, but it does require continual attention! Essentially, it is surrendering leadership to the Lord every day! One can read all the leadership books, attend the best conferences, be known for many accomplishments, but miss intimacy with God. That takes intentional time. Roger C. Palms in his book Enjoying the Closeness of God writes, “The riches of the Spirit-filled life don’t just drop from heaven. God meets us in the discipline of daily obedience.” Leading myself means I desire intimacy more than anything else… enough to respond when I hear the quiet whisper of the Spirit call, ‘come away, my love.’ It is only there, in the secret place, in His Presence, where I renew my strength and replenish my soul. Again, I hear His counsel…

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life… Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” (Prov. 4:25-27 NLT)

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God…. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Heb. 12:1-3)

Honestly answer the question… “Is it well with my soul?”

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Planning to Let God Plan - Jordan Hageman

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I had plans. I planned to never marry a pastor… but then God put Josh in front of me, a man who was very much called to the ministry and to be a pastor.  I planned to never be one of ‘those’ pastor’s wives… but then God called me to step out and step forward.  I planned to stay home and write all day… but then God sent me to work and gave me three children to love and raise. I planned… but then God.

“The LORD knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.” Psalm 94:11

How many of us make plans in our own strength and find ourselves disappointed, discouraged or resentful when those plans fail?  Why do we keeping putting our trust in our grand plans and our well-intentioned ideas?  Looking back at all the plans I had made I can only say that I am grateful that, in spite of me and my misplaced wants and desires, God’s plan kept winning out.  He has been and continues to be faithful.

A few years ago, God brought me to Psalm 25 and it spoke so clearly and deeply to me.  It starts with “In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.”  It goes on to say in verses 4 and 5:

“Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”

(italics are mine)

I admit, I still keep trying to control my future and make my own plans in my own strength, but God keeps bringing that scripture back to mind.  He keeps reminding me that His plans are greater than anything I, in my humanness, could possibly come up with.  I can confidently and wholeheartedly put all my hope and all my trust in Him and His plans.  But I have to submit.  I have to offer up my plans and place them at His feet and ask Him to take over and show me His ways and His paths and His truth.  I have to plan to let God plan for me.

My plans are futile but His plans are eternal.  His plans will have an everlasting impact for His kingdom and for His glory.

“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” Psalm 33:11

- Jordan Hageman

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5 Encouragements for Your Leadership Journey - Carmen Kampman

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To all the younger, beautiful, courageous leaders, there are a whole host of us mature (gosh, I feel old saying that!) woman leaders who are cheering for you and are looking forward to your leadership contribution in our churches and our world.

 

As a mom of six, five of whom are daughters, I thought I could share five things to encourage you in your leadership journey. They are in no particular order, but they all matter.

 

Be a disciplined, devoted follower of Christ. Everybody follows someone. Jesus lived follower-ship (Jn 5:19). Every great leader must follow Christ. Jesus has a place for everyone – and that place is as his friend and follower. All good leaders are first good followers. And what keeps you humble and focused is your commitment to follow Christ all the days of your life. Christ is the anchor of your life; always keep him front and center, and never forget you are invited to follow.

 

Get to know yourself. The most significant gift you can give yourself is to get clear about who you are and how God has wired you. Why does this matter? Because it enables you to develop your values and helps clarify places your gift(s) might fit. Life can be overwhelming and have all kinds of ‘good things’ vying for your attention, so the more clarity you have about who you are, the more confident you can be in your choices.

 

Study leadership. If leadership is what you’re interested in, then make it a priority to read and learn about leadership. The day I chose to start an MA in Leadership and Management was one of the most exciting days in my journey because where I serve I’m surrounded by theologians. Now theologians are great; we need our theologians. And we also need trained leaders who know what leadership is and how to lead. 

 

Look for opportunities to use your strengths. Markus Buckingham is right when he says “strengths are not activities you're good at, they're activities that strengthen you. A strength is an activity that before you're doing it you look forward to doing it; while you're doing it, time goes by quickly and you can concentrate; after you've done it, it seems to fulfill a need of yours.” Can you name those things? Perhaps it’s preparing and delivering a sermon or Bible study. Maybe it’s coaching a sports team. Perhaps it's being a project manager. Maybe it’s making your home a safe, loving, learning environment for your children. Pause for a minute here and ask yourself, what are those activities that make my soul come alive?

 

Own your journey. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is more responsible than you to steward your life. Your life is a gift and it’s unique. Do you embrace that you are the chosen one of God, dearly loved and called for such a time as this? Are you fully living?  If we were to sit down over tea (I’m not a coffee drinker, please don’t write me off!) and I was to ask you what you’re most proud of in your journey and what you’re aiming for, would you be able to tell me? Or would your answer be, “I’ve got no clue.”  As leaders, we can’t lose sight of the fact that stewardship of our journey belongs to us.

I get that sometimes it’s hard to make sense of our journey, that sometimes we are confused or lacking in confidence, so it would be my hope for you that you have at least one or two friends whom you could turn to that can build you up. Leadership does not have to be a lonely place and the road need not always hard. May your journey be blessed and may you feel the gracious hand of our Lord upon you.

 

Happy 2018!

Carmen

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