3 Sins of Refusing to Rest


Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.   Exodus 20:8-11

Have you ever noticed that of the 10 Commandments, God gives the most description to this one?  Four verses devoted to explaining why we need to rest.  No other commandment is given this much dwelling time.

But even with the extra explanation, I still violate this one the most.

I believe the inability to honor the Sabbath is a leader’s greatest danger.

Here’s why…

Leader’s thrive on accomplishment.  We’re wired for productivity.  We’re naturally inclined to maximize time and opportunity.  A few extra hours to catch up when others are at rest makes us feel like we’re getting ahead of the game.  Some of us wake up early or stay up late to get “just a few more things done”.  We check our phones during time with family to respond to “just this one email”.  Or how about going into the office for “just a couple hours” on a holiday to catch up on a project.  Found time is a precious commodity to us because our plates are full and their spinning fast.

If you’re like me you might be tempted to see the Sabbath as a luxury you can’t afford.  Somehow we are tempted to believe we’re above the law.  And this my friends is a dangerous place for us to be.

3 Sins of Sabbath Violation

1) Pride

Our inability to recognize our limits and to acknowledge our dependence on God is sin.  It’s a violation of God’s directive to us.  When we can’t take God at his word, we are suggesting we know better.

2) Fear

Trusting God with our limitations is frightening.  We fear what it means for our identity, reputation and future if there are elements out of our control.  Out of fear we seek to control and manipulate every moment and opportunity even if it means we’re in violation of God’s command.

3) Selfishness

In Exodus 23:12 we get more explanation for why we should sabbath, “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.

Observing the sabbath isn’t all about you!  This verse explains that when we rest we create space for those we lead to rest too.  Leaders, this is huge!  When you don’t rest, you don’t allow your family or those who work with you to rest.  You are leading them to sin as well.

This passage was an eye-opener for me.  I have been tempted for most of my life to see Sabbath as a gift to me, but that’s a selfish perspective.  A leader’s life is never just about oneself.  How we lead, even in rest, impacts the people we are responsible to lead.

Sabbath is about God and my recognition that it is him that enables me to do what I do.  It’s a weekly reminder of my limitations.  Sabbath is my acknowledgement of my total dependence on him.

Honestly, this is really hard for me.  It’s a weekly battle to turn off, shut down, disconnect and trust God.

How about you?  What is God teaching you about Sabbath and rest?  How are you growing in your dependence on him?

What to Do When Those You Lead Argue and Complain

I’ve been reading through the book of Exodus again.  When I look at all that Moses went through as a leader, it tends to make me feel a bit better about my own challenges.

This time as I read I paid close attention to every time the Israelites grumbled against or quarreled with Moses in the early days of their exodus from Egypt… and it was a lot! 

But here is what is curious to me… each time they grumbled or quarreled with him, Moses went to God.

He didn’t argue with them.

He didn’t try to reason with them.

He didn’t try to explain himself or his decisions.

He didn’t try to make them happy.

He went to God. 

Moses got what I often forget – He knew that he was simply an instrument for God.  Moses understood that he was leading these people for and with God.

I get this wrong all the time.  I’ve never considered myself a people-pleaser and yet if I’m honest I feel a whole lot better about my leadership if people like me and like how I’m leading them.

Moses didn’t seem to care what people thought of his leadership.  He was much more concerned about whether he was leading them as God had called him to lead them.

Moses’ motivation for leadership wasn’t centered on his personal need for achievement or approval.  He was compelled by fulfilling the calling that God had given him.

What is your first response when those you lead argue or complain?

Who do you turn to first?

May we all grow to be leaders who go to God first.

#OC15 Assessment Key & Notes

I had the great privilege this past week to speak at The Orange Conference.  What a fun, energizing and inspiring few days!

For those of you who were there, here is the key to the assessment you took:

The Extraordinary Leader Assessment

♦ = Heart

Ο = Soul

★ = Mind

✖ = Strength


Here are the notes from my session entitled “The Extraordinary Leader”:

Embedded in the larger story of redemption is a principle we must not miss:

God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things in the lives of others.

—Paul David Tripp

What Does Extraordinary Mean?

  • Going beyond what is usual, regular, or customary
  • Exceptional to a very marked extent
  • Rare
  • Uncommon
  • Unique

The Leader’s Greatest Commandment

Luke 12:30-31

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Extraordinary Leadership Is Found…

In a leader who has searched to discover his or her authentic self and

from that place influences others to accomplish great dreams through:

–intentional relationships (heart),

–spiritual awareness (soul),

–wise counsel (mind), and

–relentless vision (strength).

Leading With All Your Heart (Relationships)






  • Always encourage
  • Seek to connect
  • Show compassion

Leading With All Your Soul (Spiritual Awareness)


‣Faith as guiding principle

‣Desire to lead people closer to God


  • Model a life submitted to God
  • Be a servant
  • Pray for wisdom

Leading With All Your Mind (Wisdom)




‣Continuous Learning


  • Discipline
  • Stewardship
  • Accountability

Leading With All Your Strength (Vision)


‣Provides Hope

‣Defines Potential

‣Protects and Propels Momentum


  • Inspire with confidence
  • Have courage and conviction
  • Be patient and persistent
  • Be the Chief Reminding Officer

Leadership is not the private reserve of a few charismatic men and women. It is a process ordinary people use when they are bringing forth the best from themselves and others. When the leader in everyone is liberated extraordinary things happen.

- James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

—Philippians 1:6 (nasb)



Teams That Thrive

I love great teams.  I love building great teams.  I love building teams of great leaders.

I echo John Maxwell… “everything rises or fall on leadership.”  The power of leadership through teams is exponential.


Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird have recently written this great book: Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership

Here is an excerpt from the book followed by some great offers! 


Seven Straight-Forward Actions of Great Team Leaders

by Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird

The best teams define leaders more by what they do than by where they sit in the organizational chart. Sometimes great leaders sit in the chair at the head of the table, and are the team’s formal, positional leader; other times they do not. Wherever you are sitting around the table, here are seven practices of effective leaders to help you focus your efforts as a leader.

  1. Structure the team for success. You cannot force a team to become great, but you can help put the pieces together and encourage greatness. Focus on structuring and facilitating productive team communication practices, as we explain how to do in our new book, Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership.
  1. Establish with your team a 5C purpose (clear, compelling, challenging, calling oriented and consequential). Effective teams commonly aim toward a North Star. Good leaders facilitate processes to cast and clarify both vision and strategy.
  1. Get the right people on the team. Great team leaders take team membership seriously, but not too seriously. Getting the right people on the bus won’t solve all your problems, but it will help. Usually the right people possess essential skills and abilities related to the team’s purpose (in a balance with others), a strong desire to contribute to the vision and the capability to collaborate effectively. Leaders evaluate the strengths and skills of potential team members to find the right mix of skills the team needs.
  1. Facilitate goal setting in pursuit of the team’s vision. Great leaders break down lofty vision into manageable chunks by setting specific, time-bound goals. Take some time to clarify, at minimum, monthly and annual goals.
  1. Set priorities and focus on achieving team goals. Great leaders don’t play politics within the team (that’s not being trustworthy), don’t focus on relationships at the expense of task accomplishment, don’t make everything a priority and don’t drown the team in a bunch of unimportant drivel. They laser-focus on accomplishing goals.
  1. Unleash talent by allowing others to do real work. Great team leaders recognize that team members possess strengths they don’t, so they step back and allow members to exercise those strengths. This isn’t giving power away, or empowerment. It’s self-control.
  1. Do real work themselves. Great leaders don’t just supervise, coordinate or delegate tasks. They do real work for which other team members can hold them accountable. Remember, much of what people learn is “caught, not taught.” What are others “catching” from your leadership?

Certainly one person doesn’t have to do all of these things. In our visits to churches, we saw these practices often shared among several team members. These teams realize that everyone can lead, not just those at the very top of the organizational chart. We encourage you to create a team climate where every member of the team “leads” your team in various ways.


Because I participated in the book project by writing an expert commentary, InterVarsity Press is offering my readers a 30% discount on the book. To access the discount, order online at ivpress.com or call 800-843-9487 and use coupon code 506-447.  This offer expires April 30.

For more tips on providing great team leadership, as well as a host of other tips to help your team thrive, see Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership.

Bonus Offer, But Only Until April 30! Get a free accompanying workbook entitled “Have a New Team by Friday” by ordering by April 30 and submitting your receipt. Details at www.TeamsThatThriveBook.com.

Excerpted with permission from chapter 9 of Teams That Thrive: Five Disciplines of Collaborative Church Leadership by Ryan T. Hartwig and Warren Bird, InterVarsity Press, 2015. Visit www.TeamsThatThriveBook.com for the book itself, exercises, and other tools to help your team.

I Am Not the Light

I’ve always wanted to be a star – to shine – to be known.

I dream great dreams.  I want to accomplish great things.  It seems it’s who I am.

Others have affirmed this too.  I’ve been told,

“You were born to shine.”

“You will change the world.”

But my heartfelt dreams and these well-intentioned affirmations have often lived in contradiction with finding my place from a Kingdom perspective.

In our #LentChallenge reading this week, John 1:8 says:

He (John the Baptist) himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.

My aspirations to be a star are misplaced.  I am meant to reflect the light… to point to the light,  but not to be the light.

In an era of selfies and celebrities, how do we keep our perspective properly placed? 

How do you reflect the light without trying to misplace the light?



But First…

I like to think I’m obedient.

But I’m most obedient when I trust an outcome.  I’m obedient when I understand and can see the big picture.

In our #LentChallenge reading for today, Jesus is teaching about the cost of following him.

Luke 9:59, 61 (emphasis added)

He said to another man, “Follow me.”

But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.”

What is your “but first” response to God when he calls you to something?

See as leaders, we expect others to follow us.  We get irritated when they don’t trust us or willingly follow.  We are annoyed by their excuses – their “but first”s – and yet we often rattle off our “but firsts”….

But first I have to save up.

But first the kids need to be in school… or out of school… or on their own.

But first I need to explore all my options.

But first I need to have a plan for my retirement.

But first I need to finish a project.

Our “but firsts” aren’t usually bad things.  They are good things.  They may even be responsible things.

I don’t think this passage is about shirking responsibility.  It’s about faith and obedience.  For me, it’s a reminder of how many times I run to excuses when God calls me to a bold move… to something uncomfortable or scary.

Where might God be calling you and what are your “but first” responses?

Lonely Places

Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Luke 5:16

Jesus work on Earth was being noticed.  People were flocking to him for healing.  They were eager to hear his teaching.  His influence was growing.

And yet, he “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

This is both convicting and freeing.

As the pace of influence and leadership grows in our lives, the demands become greater.  People’s expectations escalate.

I’ve often felt guilty for how much I long for quiet, for space to think, for time alone.

Jesus modeled this for us well.  He withdrew.  He got away.

He withdrew to lonely places.  Places of solitude.  I think the word “lonely” here is significant because to be lonely implies some discomfort.  It would probably have been more enjoyable to get away with just his closest friends, but to make himself lonely suggests that he wasn’t just seeking relaxation and retreat.  I suspect that he went to lonely places because it is when we are stripped of everything common and comfortable that we are more attuned to God.

And in those lonely places he prayed.  He knew that at the peek of his influence he most needed to hear from God.

For those in seasons where your influence and leadership are growing exponentially, be all the more diligent to seek lonely places to get alone and pray.


#LentChallenge Day 12


I don’t want my life to be hard.  I naturally gravitate toward comfort.  Sometimes I expect if I’m doing everything right my life will be pain free.  Sorrow is something I fiercely avoid.

I realize that thinking is inconsistent with some of my core beliefs but it is amazing how pain avoidance sits at a deep subconscious level.

In our #LentChallenge reading for today, I’m struck by Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:38:

My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.

If Jesus faced sorrow, he knows how to meet us in ours.  Don’t run from sorrow, run to Him.



The new year comes roaring in and before I know it all my well-intentioned plans are sidelined.  As February begins I wonder what happened to my commitment to breathe deeper, to revel in scripture more, to Sabbath well and sit with God more frequently.  It happens E V E R Y year.

For the last several years I have joined Margaret Feinberg in the #LentChallenge and I’m excited to partner with her again this year.  The #LentChallenge is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in scripture.

We will launch into this #LentChallenge on Wednesday, February 18th, wrapping up on Easter (April 5th). Our hope and prayer is that at the end of the next 40 days, you’ll be so spiritually full, you’ll never want to live on empty again.

What You Need:

Here’s how it works:

  • Carve out 10-15 minutes to read the Bible each day. The Gospels contain 89 chapters. That means reading the Bible in 40 days requires reading about 2.2 chapters per day. About 10-15 minutes a day for forty days—and you’ll journey through the Gospels.
  • Before you read each day, begin with the prayer: “As I read today, Lord, reveal that which I most need to hear but least want to hear.” Be alert to what God reveals.
  • Invite someone to join you. No matter what challenge or goal you set, it’s always easier when you have someone to cheer you on, hold you accountable, and adventure alongside of you. Ask your small group, Men’s or Women’s Bible study, congregation, neighbor, co-worker, in-law, or spouse to join you! Invite non-believers to learn more about Jesus.
  • Share what you’re learning during these 40 days on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or your own blog using the hashtag: #LentChallenge.
  • If you miss a day, pick up where you left off. No guilt. No shame. Pick up wherever we are, don’t worry about catching up. Just more Jesus every day.

I hope you’ll join us!

2015 Coaching Group Dates Announced!

Some of my best leadership development has occurred in the context of a small group of peers who find themselves wrestling with the challenges of daily life as a high capacity leader. That’s why I believe in the power of coaching groups for intensive leadership development.

I’m excited to announce that we’re accepting applications for our 2015 Coaching Group!


April 23-24

October 15-16


  • Women who serve in a high level leadership role in a church or ministry-related non-profit organization
  • Leaders who are in a season of challenging growth or transition that would benefit from the intensive discussion of a small, focused group
  • Leaders who are committed to the hard work of personal development that will result in growth for yourself and those you lead
  • Leaders who are willing to make the time and financial commitment

What you get:

  • Four days of coaching sessions
  • Special guests for relevant topics
  • The opportunity for transparent and honest discussion with other women who think and lead like you
  • Focused attention on your key issues or challenges and a committed group to share that growth journey with you
  • Two one-on-one coaching calls with Jenni
  • Supporting books and curriculum
  • 4 nights lodging at the beautiful Oceano Hotel & Spa in Half Moon Bay, CA

What you invest:

  • Commit to participate in 2, two-day face-to-face coaching sessions in beautiful Half Moon Bay, CA
  • $2500 per person + travel expenses (rate is based upon double occupancy)
  • Time to prepare and participate fully

A few more details:

  • This will require some commitment so I want to challenge you to pray about it and apply as God leads you
  • You can download the application here.

What an honor to have been part of Jenni Catron’s leadership coaching group. Her genuine love for women in leadership exudes through everything she does. Jenni uses humor, personal experience, outside experts, and biblical authority to lead women towards discovering all God has for them. The way she guides women through a process to self-discover how to lead from a healthy core is unprecedented. Being a part of her coaching group is an unforgettable experience for anyone looking for their next challenge or to grow their leadership and influence with others.

Rhonda Hinrichs, Guest Experience Coordinator at North Point Ministries

Jenni’s coaching network is stretching in multiple areas. I was so grateful for the focused time on my leadership and personal gifts. Being connected in a group of women that are all leading and facing similar obstacles is both refreshing and empowering.

Linda Rankin, Executive Leadership Eastlake Church