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Trusting God to Lead - Dayna Slusar

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Ever wonder if it’s a prerequisite for a leader to feel like she’s not cut out for the task?

Maybe people have said that leadership comes naturally to you. You might deny it, you might take it as a genuine compliment, or you might wear it as a crown. If you’re like me, you like to take the lead on things. You like control. You like to set an example for people to follow. Rules and following them are one of your strengths.

But leadership is about more than just making and following rules, right? For one thing, leadership is about leading yourself—something God has taught me in a very real way this season.

Our capacity is limited; God’s capacity is not.

Stress is a part of life.

Everyone gets overwhelmed; it’s unavoidable.

It shouldn’t be a big deal.

It will pass.

These are excuses we tell ourselves as leaders when we feel burdened by our commitments. We can’t be honest with anyone about how much we can handle, so we give our yes because we can’t trust anyone else to do it right. We sacrifice rest because it makes us feel guilty— “if I have time to rest, I have time to work.” We work harder because it feeds our sense of accomplishment. And when we reach a point of breakdown, we complain and blame ourselves for taking on too much. We should have known better. Our pride comes from having it all together all the time, no matter how many hats we wear.

Perhaps you’re thinking “Oh, have pity on the overachievers,” but if you’re anything like me you’re thinking “I hope I never become like that.” That’s what I was thinking when I reached this point.

It's a hard truth to face when we realize we aren’t leading ourselves well. Our commitments slip out of control faster than we can make plans to keep up with them. People count on us to be prepared, to be one step ahead of them, and we aren’t. When we don’t lead ourselves, our leadership is compromised for anyone else.

So, how do you decide what’s important? Which roles are really worth your time and attention? If the typical answer to this is all of them, then you’re right where I was earlier this year.

Let’s reevaluate together.

Often, it’s a matter of bringing it back to the basics. One day and one task at a time. It’s humbling because we might think we’re better than this. Has your status or level of experience in a role or season of life ever made you feel self-conscious about how you have to handle stress sometimes? Writing lists and setting timers just to get the simplest of tasks completed? It’s not easy.

If you’re doubting your capacity for the task (or tasks) you’re facing, know that you have a limit.

Ultimately, our capacity has a limit. Maybe you came up on it about three yeses ago, but didn’t notice until you were on the verge of a breakdown. That’s not unusual, but it’s also not necessary.

The truth is, God’s capacity has no limits (and all the overachievers said “Amen!”). God will do what we physically and humanly can’t. It’s not our responsibility—even our capability—to save people. Only God can do that. Our responsibility is to be obedient in our service to His Kingdom and a big part of that is learning to lead ourselves in a wise and healthy way.

When our responsibilities pile up, when we feel overwhelmed by our leadership, it’s a sign of our priorities not being in order. We’re then working out of haste, not rest. Leading out of guilt, not calling. And working out of pride, not intentionality.

Proverbs 11:14 reads “Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances” (MSG). As a leader, direction and wise counsel are very scary to lose.

It comes down to trust. When we trust that God has a much clearer view of everything than we do, we can trust that He knows the people we’re influencing and can reach them in a way that we can’t. When we don’t trust God can do that, we panic because we feel it’s up to us. But it’s not. Trusting God is the a key part of leading well. When we know He’s in control, we don’t have to put so much pressure on ourselves to do it all.

The verse I keep going back to in all of this is “keep vigilant watch over your heart; that’s where life starts” (Prov 4:23 MSG). When my heart is unprotected it leads me to allow self-doubt and pride to keep me from facing the fact that I needed to get my balance back. We need to surrender the details to God and prioritize properly the leadership roles we hold in life. We can trust God to lead, trust that He has control, trust that we are cut out for the task, because our rest is just as important to Him as our work.

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God in the Deep - Leanne McAlister

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1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

The Spring of 2017 brought some very difficult circumstances for me. My brother Randy was shot and killed on the morning of April 26th in Penticton, BC.  Randy struggled with addiction and homelessness for many years, and in some ways I had expected what I felt like was the inevitable, but nothing prepares a person to receive that kind of devastating news. 

I was unexpectedly thrown into pain just as I was entering into a season of joy.

Let me explain.

Randy died three days before four members in our family graduated with various degrees from thee different institutions.  Ten days after his death my youngest son Benjamin married Annie.  Four days after the wedding we held a funeral.  After Randy’s death, my mother had a significant and rapid health crisis that had me running to appointments several times a week in neighbouring Abbotsford.  (We live in Langley.) Our daughter Robyn would go on to marry Dylan in early July. 

I have never had life pile up on me so dramatically and I was constantly shifting between grief and joy. 

Paul says to be thankful in all circumstances.  Was I supposed to thank God for this tragedy?  No.  Scripture does not say be thankful for all things… it says be thankful in all things.

Thankfulness is about perspective.  It is a posture that says whatever comes towards us in our relationships, circumstances and responsibilities, two truths remain:

God is sovereign and God is Good!

God sovereignty means that absolutely nothing that happens in the universe is outside of God’s influence and authority.  John Piper says, “There are no limits to God’s rule.  This is part of what it means to be God.  He is sovereign over the whole world, and everything that happens in it.  He is never helpless, never frustrated, never at a loss.  And in Christ, God’s awesome, sovereign providence is the place we feel most reverent, most secure, most free.”  I may not “get it” and I may rail against it, but I ultimately rest in the assurance that that He is indeed in control.  He is working out His plan and purposes in my life.

When we face difficulties, it can be hard to see the goodness of God.  I realize that I often attached His goodness to “pleasant outcomes.”  I saw God as good when things were working out in my life.  But is He still good when things are falling apart?

What I am learning is this:

God is not good because we have a pain free life; God is good because whatever we walk through, He comes near us.

I have the craziest stories of “God coming near” after Randy’s death.  Friends rallied around me and helped me in so many practical ways.  When I felt like I was walking through mud, my best friend came alongside and helped me pull off a beautiful wedding for my daughter.  I had supernatural “God moments” where it was like He “flipped a switch” and I was able to experience incredible joy.

While I would never wish my experience on anyone else, these past 18 months have been filled with unexpected gifts.  I have been brought to a place of gratefulness and it is not because I am “super-spiritual” (believe me) but because I have experienced God in amazing ways.  I have had a fresh revelation of His grace, His joy and His peace.  When I came to the end of myself, I discovered that he was there in all His strength and fullness and He was enough.

What are you facing today?

Have you received a diagnosis that is completely messing up your plan?    Maybe you are facing uncertainty at work, wondering how you will support yourself… or perhaps you are grieving a loved one.  (I am so sorry.)

As someone who has walked some deep waters, let me say this to you:

Don’t focus on the circumstances you face, but focus rather on God…  Look for His promises and lean into His character.  Watch to see how He comes near to you because coming near is what He does!

He is sovereign and He is good.  

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Lead Bravely - Megan Wylie

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“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.  The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear” – Nelson Mandela

Think of something you’ve always wanted to accomplish. So why haven’t you done it yet? Not enough time, not enough money, too lazy, no one to do it with, too fearful?  

 

As a young adult, I was quick to take risks, to follow my heart, to try new things and to step outside my comfort zone. If I wanted to accomplish or experience something, I just did it.  I made the necessary changes, set up accountability, cast aside my nervousness and walked bravely.  But I’ve noticed that as I’ve aged, my ability and desire to take risks has declined.  I’m not as willing to sacrifice, to get uncomfortable and to be brave. 

 

When we remain comfortable, when we resist change, when we don’t follow the will of God, when we are unable to trust God, what kind of example are we being to those that follow us?  We all have people following us, whether it’s in ministry, at work where we lead 100’s of employees or at home where we are under the watchful eye of our children. Are we showing our followers that it’s okay to take chances even when we’re terrified?

 

I’m not talking about risky behaviour that will negatively affect you or someone else.  I’m talking about doing what you’re called to do, getting out of your comfort zone, following your heart and doing these things with courage! Taking risks is about pushing the boundaries of your comfort zone and growing into your full potential.

 

There are many reasons why we fear taking risks: possibility of failure, scared because of past failures, negative self-talk, fear of succeeding and then not knowing what to do, comfortability with the current situation, fear of losing friends or followers, or too many unknowns.  Maybe you struggle with one or all of these. 

 

My daughter just recently learned how to ride her bike.  It was an extremely exciting moment for her (and for me).  She was terrified of riding alone, of falling and of failing, and she was terrified of what others would think.  And you know what motivated her to continue trying?  Her best friend (who is a year older and a confident rider) and myself, getting on our own bikes and riding alongside her.  

 

I share this example because I believe it’s a very normal way that people learn.  Learning by example, having friends or leaders walking (or in this case, riding) alongside us and having leaders cheering and encouraging from in front, beside and behind.

A great example of this comes from Joshua 1:9. God is affirming Joshua in his leadership of the Israelites after the death of Moses.  He tells Joshua, ‘Be strong and courageous.  Do you not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’  God desires for us to be strong leaders and to follow Him in the ‘risks’ He calls us to.  God gave us a ‘spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control’ (2 Timothy 1:7).

 

So what kind of ‘risks’ are we being called to?  Are we willing to step out of our comfort zone?  Do we lead bravely and with courage as God has empowered us to do?  If so, then we will inspire those around us to do the same. 

 

As we grow older, let’s lead by example, let’s continue to push out our boundaries, let’s follow God’s calling and let’s continue to lead bravely!

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Megan Wylie is a global worker in Bangkok, Thailand.  She is a wife and a mother to three little ones and has worked as a running coach, exercise therapist with seniors, birth doula/coach and currently is the director of health and wellness with Imagine Thailand.  She is passionate about: teaching others to be brave, going on adventures, holistic health and Canadian waffles.

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A Letter to My Niece - Patti Miller

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A Letter to My Niece (and other young women, followers of Jesus, called to be leaders)

Dear Jenni -

So you’re a young Christian woman, and you’re a leader. Young women like you make me SO excited.

You’ve come so far already. You’ve privately dreamed about possibilities no one else knows about. You’ve imagined a future, and then thought, a little embarrassed, “There’s no way that could happen.” But the thought is still there, in the back of your imagination. You’ve come to more than one crossroads, and taken the path that is just a little riskier, just a little different from everyone else. You’re already a “go-to” person that people know can be relied on to get the job done. It’s just what you do.

You’re a leader.

You were created to lead, to cast vision, to break new trails or clear forgotten ones, to bring others with you as you follow Jesus. You may not know it yet, but there are already people who have noticed your gifts, your heart, your passion. They can see God’s call on your life. They are praying for you. And they’re watching you.

Can I offer you a few thoughts as you find your way forward?

Find leaders you admire, and learn from them. Female or male, in your field or another one, current or past. If they’re near you, invite them for coffee. If they’re at a distance, listen to their podcasts. If they’re no longer living, read their biographies. Figure out what it is you admire about them. And when, over time, you notice their weaknesses (and you will) gently take them off the pedestal on which you placed them. They are human too. Give honour where it’s due. Thoughtfully consider how you would live or lead differently, given the opportunity. The point is - intentionally, intelligently choose the kind of leader you will be.

Be wary of cynicism. Leaders are idealistic and optimistic, especially at the beginning. We see solutions as simple, ideals as norms, complications as needless. We wonder why those in charge aren’t just “doing something” … why they seem to be “playing politics” … what the point is of the slow-moving processes. It’s easy to smirk, to withdraw or even to despair, believing you are the only one who sees what needs to be done. It’s easy to become a cynic. In those moments, hold tightly to humility. Guard your heart. Pray for those most visible, carrying the heaviest responsibilities. Don’t abandon your ideals; but do let them mature with wisdom, as you yourself learn to navigate increasingly complex situations, praying that you make the right decisions, accepting that not everyone will understand or agree. And don’t trash Jesus’ Bride. The Church was God’s idea. It still is.

Deal with your issues. We’ve all got some. I know - you don’t - you’re fine. No hidden pain, no unresolved triggers, no lingering unforgiveness. Except, well, that’s probably not entirely the case. Don’t go digging for stuff, but when something pops up to the surface, don’t bury it. Work it through. Acknowledge pain. Confess. Repent. Forgive. Seek healing. Ask for help. Grow. You will come through it stronger, wiser, and more compassionate. And listen: God has not called you because you are perfect. He has called you because He chose you (and isn’t THAT a crazy thought?!). God is not surprised by your struggles. He knows exactly who you are right now; He also knows who He is going to help you become.

Laugh easily. Laugh at your own jokes, because come on - you’re hilarious! There is relief in a good belly laugh. And there is something healthy about being able to chuckle at the things we take too seriously. We live in a world that is outraged and offended all the time. It’s exhausting. Sometimes the only form of amusement seems to be sourced in sarcasm. It makes us hard. Don’t live there. Live joyfully. Smile often. Express appreciation. Refuse to be offended.

Listen, Jenni, you are so much more than you know. You are strong. You are smart. You are creative. You are principled. You are passionate. You are joyful. You’re a dreamer. You’re pragmatic. Idealistic. Courageous, even when you’re afraid. Determined. You are an influencer of people.

You’re a leader.

BE all of that, unapologetically, unreservedly, unashamedly. Don’t hold back. A whole lot of us are cheering wildly for you. We can’t wait to see what you become.

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A Queen Among Women - Tina Mews

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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.

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Silence and Solitude: An Aid to Endurance - Joanne Knight

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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)

 

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Light Up The World - Cheryl McManus

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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?!

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Delight Yourself in the Lord - Wendy Burton

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“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

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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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