Comment

A Queen Among Women - Tina Mews

queenblog.jpg

To me, she is a queen among women.  She has no royal blood in her veins, though her name has a sort of regal ring to it.  She stands above the rest, with her calm confidence, godly strength, and humble spirit.  She does not boast of a high education yet walks in wisdom.  Life’s experiences have taught her much.  She has no great earthly riches, but lives a contented life, rich with joy and a deep love for God and her family.  Her hospitality is known to all who know her — opening her home and life to many, young and old, even students like me, for many years.

I was a young, insecure and very vulnerable 17-year-old when I showed up at her door almost three decades ago.  Lonely and uncertain, I grew to love and respect this lady and her family, as they welcomed me into their lives.

I remember many dark nights, sitting in her quiet living room, looking out over the lights of the city, as I poured out my heart.  Some things must have seemed trivial to her, and I’m sure some things may have confounded her, yet she sat and listened to my mixture of shattered dreams and prompted me to move to new and bigger dreams.

She has no credentials as a professional counselor, no degrees, just an ordinary lady used by God to influence the young life of another.  She had a listening ear, a calming word, a non-judgmental heart, and a simple but powerful prayer.  She made time to just be there.  A queen among women, that had a lasting influence on a young girl trying to find God’s will and way at a crucial point in her life.

I grew up in a wonderful Christian home.  When I moved away from that safe haven, I felt lost.  It was as if I were setting sail on a vast ocean, except I couldn’t quite figure out how to use the sails.  God placed this special lady in my life at just the right time!  She gently nudged and encouraged me — more than she ever realized.

In recent days, I have had much time to reflect on this special relationship.  I realize that I am now nearing the age that she was when we first met.

Am I a lady of such influence?  Who am I influencing?  We are all people of influence — good or bad.  Who needs me today, to just be there?  Who is in my circle of influence?

I may not have much, if you look at me through the eyes of the educator... or the wealthy... or even through my own eyes.  However, I have been called by God to serve, to lead, to influence.  Am I living my life to influence the next generation?  I am called to “be there” for another who has lost her way.  No big ado, no planned mentorship meeting, just a listening ear, to share the Word of God, to pray, to encourage, to build up, to help some young lady see the good even in a bad day, to guide her to the Truth and be a friend.

We never know how or why God uses us, we just have to be available and “tuned into” His heart and His voice.  Isaiah 45:3 states, “I will give you hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.” (NIV)

God indeed gave me a hidden treasure at a very dark time in my life.  I knew He had called me, I knew He had a plan, but He used an ordinary lady to keep reminding me, in tangible ways, that I was not forgotten.  Now, I can be that lady for someone else.

Lord, help me be that kind of person to someone today.  Let me not be too busy with my own life that I miss significant opportunities and God-moments.  Help me not miss or take for granted the special friendships that you have blessed me with, or the young ladies that you have allowed on the path of my journey of life, as I follow You.”

It’s been over twenty-five years and even though life’s events separated us for some time, we have since been able to reconnect.  God has allowed me to be a part of her life in a very remarkable way and that friendship has deepened.  She is now a widow, mourning the loss of a wonderful man of God, whom I loved and highly respected.  Our paths intersected at around this same time of loss.  Now, I sit with her on long dark lonely nights, as we reminisce and she shares her wonderful memories.  Again, a year later, when tragedy came to their family, I could mourn with them and be there to share the sorrow and help out in practical ways when their world fell apart.

Our friendship is unique and rich.  God has blessed her with good health, a wonderful sense of humor, an adventurous spirit, and a continued zeal for life and living it for God.  I am honored to share many special moments with her.

God has enriched my life with many special “older” friends, many women of influence.  It has been said that, “A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.”  Thank you, Mrs. D, for believing that I could.

Comment

2 Comments

Silence and Solitude: An Aid to Endurance - Joanne Knight

SILENCE_SOLITUDE.jpg

I used to be a long-distance runner before injury got the better of me and I was forced to hang up my running shoes. When I first started out at the ripe old age of 40, I learned very quickly that it wasn’t about being the fastest out of the gate, rather it was about enduring the race and finishing stronger than you started.

I was blessed to have an excellent coach who tamed my instinct to run too fast at the start; she must have told me a hundred times, “distance running isn’t a race, it’s endurance.” So, I learned how to find my pace, the rhythm that worked for me. I had to allow other runners to pass me and not get too concerned. Invariably I would eventually pass them further along the line. It was about keeping my eye on the goal, the finish line, and doing what I needed to do to finish strong.

There were certain things we could do to improve our endurance, one of them was to keep well hydrated - all the time not just on race day. I was never one to drink much water, so it took a while for me to get with the program. However, once I did I found that I acquired a real taste for it, in fact I still do. My lime green S’well water bottle goes with me everywhere!

I am just entering my tenth year of vocational ministry. Like running, I came to it rather late. When I graduated Bible College I was excited to get out there and get going. I poured my heart and soul into everything I was asked to do. I had no boundaries and my answer to every request was yes!

However, I quickly found that I couldn’t do it all and my “saviour” complex was really getting a battering. What I didn’t know was how to slow down, how to pace myself. I looked around me and most of my fellow ministers were much like me – running hard and running fast.

I entered the cycle of do, do, do… crash; do, do, do… crash. Let’s be honest, we all know that well.

Then I heard from a young adult in our church, who takes herself off three times a year for a silent retreat. As she was telling me about her journey, my spirit leapt within me. The thought of having 48 hours of silence and solitude appealed to me like water to a thirsty runner. I wasn’t sure if I could keep quiet that long, but I was so desperate to slow down and hear from God I was willing to try it.

Our world is so loud, so busy and so distracting. I was finding it hard to keep up the pace and hear from God. Yes, I spent time with him every day, but not extended time, not time in silence just listening.

So earlier this year I headed over to a small island retreat just a short ferry ride away from Horseshoe Bay, Vancouver. I spent 48 hours in complete silence and solitude. I rested, I walked, I read, I prayed, but most of all I listened! And boy did God speak to me. It was the most wonderfully refreshing time I have ever had, just me and Papa. I had the freedom to simply: “Be still and know that I am God.”

I determined to make this a regular practice and part of the rhythm of my life and returned in May. I was not disappointed and was met by the Lord at the core of my being.

An interesting side effect is that I now crave silence and solitude when things are getting full. Just like I got a taste for water, I now have a taste for silence and solitude. I have even turned off my car radio so that when I am driving I get some silence. My car has actually become a sacred space.

My hope is that as I incorporate silence and solitude into my life they will help me go the distance in ministry and leadership. That I will endure the race set before me and finish stronger than I started!

The world will confuse you. Silence will speak more to you in a day than the world of voices can teach you in a life time. Find silence. Find solitude – and having discovered her riches, bind her to your heart.

Frances J. Roberts (Come Away My Beloved, Barbour Publishing, 2002)

 

2 Comments

4 Comments

Light Up The World - Cheryl McManus

Light_Up_The_World_Cheryl_McManus

My first opportunity in ministry came about 6 months after becoming a Christian. I was 16. It was nearly summer, and our children’s ministry had some tables set out in the church lobby asking for volunteers. I perused quietly and politely until something caught my eye. They were looking for people to help do arts and crafts with community kids for a bus outreach they held during the school break. Did I have any experience or even interest in working with kids? Nope. Did I know the Bible stories they were going to be teaching? Nope. Did I expect that 10 years later I would be working as a Children’s Pastor at one of the largest churches in one of Canada’s largest cities? DEFINITELY not. But God did. And it was honestly ALL Him.

Somehow, what I came to refer to as my, “Hey! I can do that!” moment, innocently signing up for that bus outreach, became a catalyst into something that I hadn’t planned for or expected…

To become hooked on ministry. Honestly, I fell in love.

In the years following, I began the process of laying down my need to have every detail of my future mapped out, and instead surrendered to this beautiful adventure of following God. I told Him (as if He needed to be told), that what I really wanted from life was: to be a mom, to marry someone who had surrendered his life to God, and to serve Him IN whatever and WITH whatever He chose to put in my path.

Some paths have been forged more easily. Some have been fiercely fought through.

Some days I forget about that process of surrender and I have to go back to the beginning again.

But here I am. Imperfectly trying to make a difference. And I’m still in love.

I’d love to hear your story. To hear what has made you come alive… Or maybe you’re still wondering if there is a place for you in all of this. Well, let me tell you that there is.

See, I’ve come to realize that the only thing that disqualifies us from a place in God’s mission is if we say “No” to it. He can use any one of us. Me? The painfully shy, introverted and anxious, college drop-out (twice), sin-stained and broken girl. He moved the mountains of my life and called me into the open. The air is so much better here.

I think some of us have waited for a “special invitation” to come in the mail or down from the sky, saying it’s officially okay for us to be part of God’s Story, to be ministers, to be heard. But what I’ve come to realize (and celebrate!) is that we have ALL already been invited, and it’s the party of the century! We GET to step into this Great Adventure, the Great Commission, and have our hearts and expectations blown wide open. Even if our knees get a little scraped and dirty along the way.

I’m learning that Jesus’ death and resurrection were not only our redemption, but they became the great equalizer for those who believed. As we were born again, we all became something. We all became sent. His Spirit proved this to be true in every kingdom.

As women, I think if we believed, REALLY believed, what God says about us to be infinitely MORE true than anything else we have heard or experienced, we just might come bursting out of our hiding places and light up the world.

So, let me reassure you… your invitation didn’t get lost in the mail. You weren’t left out of this party because your clothes didn’t match the part. The Bible tells us that before the world was even formed, you were created to make a difference. You, my friend, have a call on your life and a place in this world, carved out just for you to stand up in it. You aren’t just a woman who KNOWS someone who is called. You ARE someone.

You have a voice to use, a heart to love, hands to serve - and you’ve got the BEST cheerleading squad at your side. God specifically planned you to be a woman of influence, in whatever corner of the world you are in. And as you step into that, He just may lead you somewhere you never expected.

So, let’s be women that scream “Yes!” to that invitation, whether we feel we deserve it or not. We can’t live our lives by comparison, or tangled up in the fear of imperfection. I think it’s our time to just be brave. I think that’s how we will change the world. 

Are you with me?!

4 Comments

Comment

Delight Yourself in the Lord - Wendy Burton

ZCP_Wendy_Burton.png

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Ps 37:4

I fuss sometimes, I can admit that. Ask Maisey, my pup, who spends the day with me in the house. Fussing, trying to get my head in God’s space, with plans and purposes and His will and my will. The graphic would look like an etch-a-sketch that a toddler has been playing with and thrown on the floor. I seriously doubt that is ever His intention. This is the occupational downside to being a project manager: trying to “manage” Jesus!  

Chatting with women, I often hear that the idea of “delight” seems like a luxury we can’t afford: an aloof, far off, unattainable myth of faith. There’s no time, no boundaries, too much noise, I’m too busy, too committed, it’s too complicated, just too… too… too… fill in your own blank. But, God! 

God knows us so, so well. In His infinite wisdom, He knew that even noble, believing, smart, capable women would attempt to use Him as a means of getting ahead. Our motive for seeking God is often self-focused. It is hard to see that in writing, but it is often a reality.  Scripture tells us that He enjoys being sought for the pleasure of His presence. He delights in allowing us to discover wonderful gains, but because He knows us so well, He has methods for redirecting us and making the most of our sometimes-questionable motives.  He allows our greed to lead us on a hunt where we ultimately unearth the greatest treasure of all.

Psalm 37:4 is a classic “feel good” kind of scripture. God knew we would find rest in his promising the desires of our hearts.  He also knew our self-seeking search could lead us to an incomparable sustaining treasure. The end result motivates the first approach to Psalm 37:4: “He will give you the desires of your heart.” The “end” causes us to consider the means: “Delight yourself in the Lord.” True to our human nature, we become attentive to the means so we can reach the end.

 “How can I delight myself in the Lord?” We can almost hear Him whisper, “I’m so glad you asked.” As we make ourselves available to delight in God He slowly revolutionizes our approach to finding fulfillment. Those who seek to delight in the Lord will ultimately develop a delightful relationship with Him. As we ascribe worship, wonder, praise, affection, adoration and honour to him, an evolution begins.

Fussing falls off, the need for control drops away, assurance and peace rests on the heart.

It’s beautiful: as God extends Himself toward the seeker’s delight, the once self-seeking treasure-hunter is transformed.

Anyone who truly delights in the Lord will one day realize that God has become the desire of her heart. When He is our delight, we begin to want to want what He wants. We come to trust His best for us. When we struggle with self-seeking desires, we hit our knees in prayer. We become wise enough to ask Him to overrule any desire that would ultimately betray us. We no longer want anything that lacks His approval; we want to be a part of what He is a part of.

Why is the change of heart so important to the fulfillment of Psalm 37:4? Because hearts that do not delight in the Lord are destructive and deceitful. Jeremiah 7:9 reminds us, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.” To be safe, God must transform the heart. Until we learn to delight ourselves in the Lord, we cannot trust the desires of our hearts. What our fleshly hearts want on their own can lead us to make the worst and most hurtful decisions of our lives.

As a leader, can you remember a time when your heart lead you down a destructive path? I certainly can. I want my heart’s desire to reflect His heart’s desires. I want to go where He is going.

Psalm 37:4 is a transforming scripture. We discover a new depth of relationship with God, an indescribable delight, a safety valve for our hearts no matter what our original motives may have been. When we find delight in the Lord, we have found indescribable treasure for our soul.

Wendy Burton

A few of my favourite things:
Jesus & 7 Burtons – Coffee – Strangers – Shoes

Comment

Comment

Let's Talk - Melissa Hartmann

ZCP_LetsTalk_Melissa_Hartmann.png

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

Comment

Comment

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!

Comment

Comment

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

colorful bowls and plates on a white shelf

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.”

Comment

2 Comments

Just Show Up - Hailey Armoogan

back of two women standing watching a ceremony, orange flowered shirt, black tank top

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. 

2 Comments

1 Comment

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.

1 Comment

Comment

Why I Love Being in Leadership - Tammy Junghans

zoe-community posts-tammy junghans.png

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.”

Comment