Three Ways to Fight

My husband John has been in the leadership boxing ring with a maddening challenge for the past couple years.

I’m on the sidelines, literally jumping up and down, shadow-boxing in our kitchen and yelling “Go to the mattresses!” when he reports the latest crazy atrocities at the end of a day.Unknown

I’m a DO-er!!  I want to take out an Uzzi and FIX this now!  Ok, as a Jesus-follower that might not be the best plan, but for the love of justice!!!

Trying to ratchet back the passion and put on the mantel of patience John seems to wear so easily, I’ve been reflecting on the different responses to THE ROCK AND A HARD PLACE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES I see in Scripture.  Here are three I’ve come up with: Continue reading

Coming up For Air

This morning I sit across from John at Starbucks early.  I keep hearing deep sighs as he sips his skim white mocha.  There’s a mixture of snow and rain coming down outside.  The fire is on in the fireplace, which is the reason for my sighs, but not his.

We just returned from several days of meetings in one setting and he is heading into a long day of meetings in another.  New place, new set of challenges.  He’s trying to ignore the clamoring emails and choose the daily disciplines of devotions and journalling.  It’s a struggle because… there’s just.so.much.

I’m privileged to have a lot of close friends who are world class leaders.  They are humble but brave.  They are wise and trust God for great things.  They are kingdom bringers.  And somedays they make mistakes, and most days they’re praying like crazy for discernment, and many days they are under a tremendous amount of pressure.  Lately it seems even more stressful than usual.  And they’re facing a lot of situations that feel “between a rock and a hard place-ish”.

“World class leader” may not describe you or me, but we all get into seasons when we’re in over out head.  Whether you’re a student or a CEO or a mom or you just feel like you’ve been holding your breath for too long, I want to stand up and shout Continue reading

6 Sentences Jesus Followers Need to Learn to Say in the Midst of Controversy

It’s an unusually cool morning in Florida and the wind is blowing.  As I rode my bike to Starbucks I thought of one day when Katy was little and came in from outside.  She said, “Mommy, the wind struggles me!”

Yep, Katester, the wind has been struggling us this week.  Winds of uncertainty and criticism and emotion and drama all stirred up out of a desire to serve God well and make wise choices that honor Him in a complex world.

Wind-struggling weeks (that we all have) are made more difficult when the decisions we’re making are public and impact thousands of people, like the one the World Vision Board announced this week. The stakes go up and it seems that no one wants to let any critical thought go un-tweeted or un-commented or un-updated.  Even the headline of a balanced article is mis-leading and inflammatory.

We, as Jesus followers, love (I love!) black and white.  We love clear-cut, “thus sayeth the Lord”, and “Bam! Take that you spawn of Satan!”  Ok, maybe not the last, but some responses feel that way – gleeful in their self-righteous put-downs.  And is this what Jesus desires of someone following Him?

This morning Michael Hyatt had an excellent post on 5 difficult sentences leaders need to learn to say.  It made me think that there are several sentences we Jesus-followers need to learn to say in the midst of controversial conversations (what the Bible calls “disputable matters”). Continue reading

Is there Room in Your Chariot?

This past summer at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit I had the opportunity to live blog for Engage Churches, a part of the Willow Creek Association.  I was blown away listening to the teaching of Chris Brown, a pastor at North Coast Church in California.  Here’s some of what I wrote that day…

This afternoon, Chris Brown (not that Chris Brown, a different Chris Brown) started with the story of a man approaching a campfire.  Creeping forward, and then walking back into the shadows while others by the campfire gossip about his failed leadership around the issue of a certain giant named Goliath.

The man is King Saul.  For over a month Saul has been called out and he knows he doesn’t have what it takes.  His ministry is  paralyzed.  His leadership is paralyzed.  He’s a leader in trouble who is bailed out by a kid named David.

And then it goes out on Twitter (as it were).  1 Sam. 18:5-9 “Saul has killed his thousands.  David his ten thousands.”

Huh??  Big gasp.  How is Saul going to react?

“From that time on, Saul kept a jealous eye on David.”

Saul didn’t have room in his chariot for David, the young twerp who bested him.

Leaders struggle with jealousy and comparison.  Pride and ego.  It’s in the Bible.  A lot. Continue reading

One Quality That Sets a Leader Apart

I look around the conference room in a San Francisco church.

The round tables are filled with high capacity young leaders.  Some have brought with them the early career fatigue of balancing family and ministry and finances, and communities resistant to innovation.  There are too few minorities in the room.  And too few women.  We all know more than we do.  We all wrestle to be authentic and not just tell our “success stories”.  Instead, to talk about our doubts and hopes and fears.

As I sit with these leaders for the day there’s something I notice that sets them apart.  They come with the posture of learners.  They have strength and resolve, but also humility. They ask good questions.  They listen.

They live into the belief that anyone anywhere is a potential mentor, whether younger or older, blue collar or white collar, mom or migrant worker.

We often hear the refrain, “Leaders are learners.” and it’s true.  But it’s important to say more than that.   Continue reading

How to Get out of the Downward Death Spiral of Doom

Note:  Last week I blogged for Engage at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit (you can see all posts here).  Maybe my favorite speaker at the Summit was Henry Cloud.

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Throughout the year I have the privilege of facilitating some of the online courses through LIFT (Leadership Institute for Transformation) that’s part of Engage.

Let’s be clear… I just facilitate discussions where participants interact with material presented.  But the teachers?? Holy Buckets!  They are world class!   LIFT has gathered teaching from the best communicators around the country and Henry Cloud is one of them.  I love his LIFT class, Leading for Results which is based on his book, Integrity.  He is just so darn practical!

Friday afternoon at the Leadership Summit, Henry walked on stage with his signature greeting,  “Hey guys!”

He went on to say why he likes leaders (smart move with this audience!).

He said, “Leaders don’t blame.  They take stewardship of what God has given them.  Leaders do hard things.”

But the hardest thing a leader does is to lead him or herself.

Continue reading

Resource Christmas in August

I’m honored to be live blogging this week at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit for Engage International which is part of the Willow Creek Association.   I’ve also been facilitating on line classes for the WCA called LIFT (Leadership Institute For Transformation).  I’d encourage you to check out all the resources Engage and the WCA provide here!

Here’s the beginning of my post for the first session of the Summit…

Every year my husband John and I would say the best two weeks of our summer are the ones in August when we bring a large group of staff and lay leaders from our church to the Willow Creek Leadership Summit, and afterwards go on a staff family retreat in northern Minnesota.

We show up expectant, thinking, “What will God do this time?”

And every year after Bill Hybels’ opening talk, without fail, John says, “Well, I can go home now!”  He’s filled up and recharged, but is always glad we stay around for the “B team”. 🙂

Bill’s talk is always a combination jolt of Red Bull, and a Brave Heart “Get off your butt” rallying cry.

Which is great if you’re a senior leader like my husband.  But I also try to listen through the filter of the young mom, and the staff administrator, and the librarian, and the retired radiologist elder we’ve brought with us.  You know, ordinary folks with ordinary lives who are definitely leaders of their family, or PTA, or church committee, or office staff, but may think “Is this really for me?.”

You can read the rest here!

What Fills You Up?

What fills you with joy or gratitude or spurs you on to higher ideals?  What energizes or encourages you?

Is it particular relationships with people who pour wisdom and hope into you?  Or a particular place or tradition that makes your heart sing?

In what environments does God’s Word come to life for you?

We need weekly rhythms of filling so that we serve out of overflow but I believe we also need seasonal and yearly rhythms of filling too.

Continue reading