Summer Reading Plan: Relevant

Relevant

The historian and moralist known as Lord Acton is credited with saying, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

The “great men” Lord Acton referred to are those in positions of power—leaders and influencers. What a despairing viewpoint of something that was intended to be a God-given gift!

Have you ever wrestled with the desire to control?

In this month’s issue of Relevant Magazine, I’m sharing my thoughts on Leading When You’ve Lost Control.

You can click here to continue reading at RelevantMagazine.com
PLUS, as part of my Summer Reading Plan series, I’m giving away a one-year subscription to Relevant Magazine!

Leave a comment telling us how control has impacted you as a leader.

Summer Reading Plan: Atlas Girl

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Okay everyone, I couldn’t be more excited about this week’s summer reading giveaway… Atlas Girl is a beautiful memoir from a precious new friend, Emily Wierenga.  Emily is guest posting today so I’ll be brief and encourage you to read what she shares… and then comment to win one of two copies of her book.  You’ll instantly love her!  Plus she shares some powerful truths in her post that every leader needs to be reminded of.

5 Secrets to True Success (and memoir giveaway)

By Emily T. Wierenga

 

Jenni Catron

I’ve always wanted to be famous.

We were walking home from college one day, my boyfriend and I, the sun on our faces, the wind at our backs.

Trent was asking me what I wanted to become when I graduated, and this girl in the blond hair and bell-bottoms said, “A television news anchor.”

“Why?” he said.

I looked down at my feet. “Well, I guess, I’d like to change the world.”

In high school the boys had always just said, “You’d be great at that, because you’re so pretty!” I liked that response much better.

“Why do you need your face to be on television in order to change the world?” he said then, this farm boy who volunteered at kids’ club and bowled with his Grandma on weekends.

“I don’t know.” I was nearly running, trying to escape the past, but its legs were longer than mine. I was still the lonely preacher’s kid who was always comparing herself to others and turned anorexic.

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Trent put a hand on mine. “You don’t have to be seen to make a difference,” he said, and I knew then I would marry him.

“But if no one sees me,” I said, “then who am I?”

I’d believed all those self-help books that say we are what we make of ourselves, that the power of success lies in our hands, that the highest rung on the ladder is the aim.

It’s been 15 years, and I’m an author and a speaker, and I’ve learned this: my husband was right. True success is not about being seen, or about having the right labels or the right job. It’s about this:

  1. Humility. Success is about treating others better than you treat yourself; it’s about seeing the person versus the mass; it’s about being small, and assuming the lowest position of service and waiting for the right time to be lifted up and recognized. Those who steal the show receive false glory.
  2. Integrity. Success is about doing the right thing, the hard thing, even if no one sees you do it. Because someone Higher and All-Powerful does see you, and he will reward you at the right time.
  3. Patience. Success is not about fast fame; it’s about slow and steady wins the race. We’ve lost the art of waiting.
  4. Honor. Success is about doing something well, and about the honor finding you. It’s about detail and beauty and respect and the fine wine that take ages to perfect; it’s about doing something people will talk about for centuries, versus days.
  5. Quiet. Success is about listening to what the rest of the world is too rushed to hear. The whispers of longing, of regret, of ache. Success is about hearing those whispers, and responding to them. One person at a time.

 

It’s not about us, friends. It’s about something so much, so the question is—How can your particular, amazing story become a candle that leads others home?

 

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My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away TWO copies today. Just leave a comment below to win!

From the back cover:

“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.

“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”

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Click HERE for a free excerpt.

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I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: atlasgirlbookreceipt@gmail.com, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.

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ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
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Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.

Summer Reading: Fly A Little Higher

The story moved me before I even read it.

Zach Sobiech, just a typical teenage boy living a not-so-typical teenage life.

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Fly a Little Higher: How God Answered One Mom’s Small Prayer in a Big Way is Laura Sobiech’s story of watching her son live his last days.  Zach and his entire family chose to make their tragedy not about themselves but about how they could inspire others (they understood their CLOUT).

Zach once said, “I want to be known as the kid who went down fighting and didn’t really lose.”  Once you read this one, I think you’ll agree that Zach reached that goal and then some.

 

I have a copy of the book to give away.

In the comments, share with us the story of someone you know who in spite of personal tragedy has stayed focusing on loving and serving others. 

I’ll pick a winner this Friday, 7/11

Summer Reading Plan: A Fruitful Life

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Eric Bryant has a new project that just released called A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be.

Eric serves at Gateway Church in Austin, and previously he served at Mosaic in Los Angeles. His previous book is called Not Like Me: A Field Guide for Influencing a Diverse World (also known as Peppermint-Filled Pinatas).

I had the chance to ask Eric a little more about this new project:

Jenni: What is A Fruitful Life all about?

Eric: According to Jesus, we have unlimited capacity to influence others spiritually. No matter what we’ve experienced or what we regret or where we are from, in Christ’s Kingdom we can become fruitful – transformed and transforming the lives of others.

Derived from Jesus’ parable of the soils, A Fruitful Life will help you with the following:

  • Discover your calling.
  • Make decisions using a grid for hearing God’s voice
  • Overcome the most painful moments of life.
  • Make progress in areas where you are most tempted.
  • Experience renewal and bring change to others.

Jenni: In working with leaders, I often help them find their place to make a difference. What are some of the insights you share that can help people find their niche?

Eric: Sometimes we make simple things complicated. Jesus explained that if we can avoid being like the first three soils, we could have a life that is described as fruitful. In other words, if we can learn to be receptive (hearing God’s voice), tenacious (not give up on what we know we should do), and intentional (avoiding distractions), we will be who we’ve always wanted to be.

Applying the Scriptures to our life and developing the skills derived from the parable of the soils really is life-changing. I have seen God do remarkable things in my life, in the lives of others who went through this material in small groups, and in the lives of those who experienced the material in the context of a retreat or sermon series. When we are spiritually receptive, tenacious, intentional, and proactive, we are in the right place for God to work in our lives and through our lives.

Jenni: What makes this project different from others?

Eric: Like you, I am fascinated by creativity and innovation, so it was important to me to share this message in a unique, fun, and helpful way. By teaming with the Snippet App, we are offering something that is far more interactive than a paperback and much more than an e-book. Each Snippet in this series includes videos and other discoverables, plus the ability to interact with each other.

Jenni: You mentioned to me that you have a special offer for those who frequent my blog.

Eric: I do! I appreciate your leadership and your message to the world so much!

10 people in your audience will win the entire series. Here’s how: download for free A Fruitful Life: Becoming Who You Were Created To Be and be sure to check out the last chapter on how to become a winner of the next four snippets in the series.

Jenni: Thanks so much! Congratulations on this project!

More on Eric:

Dr. Eric Michael Bryant serves with Gateway Church in Austin as the team leader for Central and South Austin and as part of the teaching team. Known for their mottos: “no perfect people allowed” and “come as you are, but don’t stay that way.”

Eric coaches church planters and campus pastors, teaches on Post Christian Ministry, and leads a cohort for a Doctorate of Ministry in Missional Effectiveness through Bethel Seminary where he earned his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership. More on these opportunities can be found here.

Summer Reading Plan: What Life Are You Waiting For?

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This week’s summer reading is Pastor Pete Hise’s new book, What Life Are You Waiting For?

What Life Are You Waiting For Book Promo from Quest Community Church on Vimeo.

Pete is one of those guys who lives what he teaches.  His belief in the life-changing power of God will compel you and challenge you to take the transformational adventure that he believes God has called you to.  This book will push you to ask tough questions, grapple with unresolved heart issues and, most importantly, compel you to ‘push play’ on life.

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If you’re interested in winning a copy, share with us in the comments one adventure you’re taking this summer.

Happy Monday!

 

Summer Reading Plan

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Hi everyone!

I hope your summer is off to a great start.  I love this time of year… the end of the school year, the start of vacations.  My instagram feed is full of pictures of beaches and big smiles.

For the summer months here on the blog, I’ve decided to take a little vacation too.  I’m still getting settled in my new place plus I’m feverishly working on my next book manuscript.  With all of that going on, I’m not posting anything terribly inspiring or original. Sorry about that!

So there’s my plan:

Every week throughout the summer I’m going to feature a book and do a book giveaway.

Summer is a great time to rejuvenate, so let’s rejuvenate our minds with some great reading!

We’ll kick off with one my favorite leadership books, The 21 Most Powerful Minutes in a Leader’s Day: Revitalize Your Spirit and Empower Your Leadership. I read it almost every year.  It’s structured in devotional style so it’s easy to absorb in small doses.  Perfect for your summer schedule!

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In the comments, share what you’re learning about leadership right now.  I’ll randomly select a winner this Friday, June 13th.

Monday Inspiration

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I’m just wrapping up Shelene Bryan’s book Love, Skip, Jump: Start Living the Adventure of Yes

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Since I made my recent jump, I’m quite interested in hearing how others have jumped too.

Shelene’s book is equally convicting and inspiring.

Here are a couple of quotes I enjoyed:

“An attitude and lifestyle of giving can make life truly thrilling.”

“Some of the most amazing things God wants to do in our lives as Christians involve giving Him permission to take us on uncomfortable journeys.”

“Jumping is an act of your will to use your God-given gifts to affect others.”

“You don’t always immediately feel good about obeying God.  How many times have I let my feelings get in the way of an incredible journey that God wanted to take me on?”

Want to love… skip… jump… with us too? 

Be sure to check out the book website to learn more about Shelene and her story.

Also check out all the work she is doing through her organization Skip1.org – amazing stuff!

I have a copy of the book to giveaway! Leave a comment telling us about a time that God asked you to jump.  I’ll select the winner on Wednesday, June 4th. 

Happy Monday everyone!

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Today I sit at the table of my breakfast nook in my new home on the west coast.  The birds are chirping, the sun is shining, flowers are blooming outside the big bay window that overlooks my back patio.

It sounds lovely doesn’t it?

That is a typical morning here in my new world.

But nothing feels typical about it yet.  While I’m here my husband is back in Nashville selling, purging and packing our home as he prepares to join me.

It’s been 11 weeks since I left.  11 weeks of living with just a few furnishings here.  11 weeks of living apart from my husband and Mick… don’t forget Mick, the border collie, who is more child than pet.  It will still be several more weeks before Merlyn, Mick and a truckload of our stuff arrives, but at least the end is in sight.

Or is it?

I like to believe that once they get here, everything will feel normal.  But there really is no normal anymore.

Everything is disrupted.  Family, friends, home, routine, sense of purpose… all of it.

But don’t misunderstand… it’s not all bad.  In fact, most of it’s been really good.  It’s just stretching and different.

In one week, our dream home will be sold.  I expected to live there for 20+ years.  I assumed we’d host parties, throw showers and entertain friends for years to come.

Disrupted.

I was reading this morning N.T. Wright’s thoughts on Mark chapter 1 when Jesus called the disciples to follow him.  Wright described how significant it was for the disciples to leave behind their way of life.  It was counter-cultural to leave family or change career.

Wright explains,

“Jesus was now calling them to trust the good news that their God was doing something new.  To get in on the act, they had to cut loose from other ties and trust him and his message.  That wasn’t easy then and isn’t easy now.  But it’s what Peter, Andrew, James and John did, and it’s what all Christians are called to do today, tomorrow, and on into God’s future.”

Disrupted.

Let me be clear… Nothing about my current disruption is comfortable.  I don’t share because I believe I deserve a pat on the back. Quite the contrary.  Most days I’m embarrassed by how hard it is to let go of what is known and comfortable and to trust that God’s calling is greater than my plans could ever be.

But each day I’m learning to be more comfortable with disrupted.

God says “come” and the only reasonable response is to follow. 

The Connection Question

“How did I do?”

or

Did I connect?”

Which question do you more commonly ask yourself after you speak, teach, lead a meeting, talk to your staff? 

A good leader is always evaluating… always seeking feedback to improve.

But those two questions above nuance a distinction that is critical in our motives for seeking feedback.

The first question is about you.

The second question is about them.

Just this past Sunday, I was hosting the services at one of our campuses.  This was the first time I hosted at this campus and I was very attentive to my “performance” (I use quotes because I don’t love that word but it’s accurate for the context).  My first reaction was to get feedback on how I “did”.  Did I do okay?  Did I say all the right things?  Did I cover the correct content?

For the first few moments the stream of thought was all about me and how I performed.

And then… conviction.   My questions were all wrong.  Yes, I needed to evaluate my performance but my evaluation needed to be about how I impacted those I was communicating with.  Did I connect with them?  Did they feel heard and understood?  Did they receive good information?  Were they inspired?  Did I help them see a glimpse of Jesus today?

Is the connection question your first thought when evaluating yourself as a communicator? 

 

Do You Know What They Need?

“Leaders appear when awareness meets need.”

“A person who knows what a group actually needs must be more aware than those in need.”

Deepak Chopra

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Do you know what your group needs? 

You family, your staff, your congregation, your customer, you small group bible study, your friend going through a crisis… do you know what they need?

Leaders must wake up every day asking, “what does the group of people I’m responsible for need?”  Not, “what do they need from me?”  Rather, “what do they need, period.  And then how can I help lead them there?”

There have been a number of seasons in my leadership where I have lost sight of this question.  I drifted into doing what I’d always done.  I became less engaged with this question and as a result I quit leading.  Afterall, it’s pretty difficult to lead if you don’t know where you need to go.

Great leaders always know what the group needs before the group knows they need it.  Great leaders anticipate.  They see the future and they plan for it.

So today, stop yourself.  Before you make another move, pause and consider the question:

What do they need?