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

LentChallenge

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.

#LentChallenge

LentChallenge

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!

Dates:

April 23-24

October 15-16

Who:

  • 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

Propel

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Today is THE DAY!

Propel launches officially with a week of events at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.

A Bit More About Who We Are

For generations women have navigated the nuances of being a woman in leadership without a roadmap, finding their way through trial and error. While there are many books, resources, and leadership networks aimed at strengthening leaders, few address the distinctive role of women in leadership, and fewer still address the calling of women in the marketplace.

While our culture is changing, and professionally women are holding positions of leadership, many women still wrestle with identifying themselves as leaders or feeling empowered to operate within their full leadership potential. Gaps in leadership training have forced women to compartmentalize their lives, separating work, church, and home. Propel exists to help create an interconnected life in Christ, who affirms and acknowledges every woman’s gifts, passions, and leadership potential for the glory of the Kingdom.

“The Lord announces the Word and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng.” Psalm 68:11

This “mighty throng” of women is already within the marketplace. Our desire is to empower women to lead more effectively and to see themselves as an intricate part of God’s plan in all spheres of life.

If your heart connects with the purpose of Propel, I encourage you to join us on the journey.

Check out the website www.propelwomen.org

Get involved

Download the magazine

If you are a woman in ministry or marketplace leadership, I would love to learn more about you!  Tell us about yourself in the comments section below.

Great days are ahead for women who lead! 

 

Fight Back With Joy

GREAT-JOY

I’ve never described myself as joyful and I doubt that others would assign that attribute to me either.  I suppose I thought joy was reserved for the more light-hearted and fun.  Joy felt like a privilege I wasn’t intended to possess.

These were all self-conscious assumptions.  In fact, if probed I would agree that joy was a fruit of the spirit I should be seeking but it seemed unattainable and not fitting for who I am – one who is known to be a serious, contemplative type.

So when my friend Margaret Feinberg chose to fight back with joy while battling the toughest experience of her life, I took note.  How could she choose joy when her world was so dark and difficult?  How could she choose joy with unknown outcomes?  How could she choose joy when what she felt was despair?

 “We don’t just sense joy; we embody it by how we respond to the circumstances before us.”

FightBackWithJoy

Margaret has modeled what it looks like to fight back with joy and we’re the beneficiaries of her fight.

Learn more about the book and bible study at FightBackWithJoy.com

Purchase Fight Back With Joy

Fight Back With Joy 6-Session DVD Bible Study Promo Video from Margaret Feinberg on Vimeo.

New Every Morning… and Every New year

Well, it’s the New Year.

Ideally I would be giving five suggestions for how to best leverage your leadership or three keys to growing as a leader this year.

Most years by the time January 1st rolls around I’ve written out my key goals for the year and planned out the entire calendar.

But for some reason this year I have not done either of those things.

For some reason I’m reluctant…  I’m reluctant to welcome a new year.

2014 was a year of tremendous change.  Last year at this time I had just made an enormous decision to change jobs, sell most of my possessions and move across the country.

It was a good choice. It was the right choice.

But it did not make for an easy year.

2014 uncovered parts of me that I had not previously paid attention to. Pieces of my heart that needed tending that were often ignored because of pace and priorities became exposed when all of my usual comforts weren’t there to lean on.

It’s not that I’m not looking forward to 2015. I am. I’m hopeful to experience the fruit from all of the pruning of this last year.

But the pruning was tiring. It’s left me longing for a little more time before I have to turn the corner to a new year with new adventures, new goals and new plans.

In some ways I feel too tired to take on a New Year. I want to cling to a few more final days of 2014 for rest and rejuvenation. The driven, achiever in me feels the pressure of a new year ahead of me and the compulsion to not waste a moment of it. Who wants to get the New Year off on the wrong foot?

In my angst over welcoming a new year, the scripture “his mercies are new every morning” kept ringing through my mind. His mercies are new EVERY morning, not just the beginning of the New Year. What if we didn’t think a new year was our only chance for a clean slate, but every morning? In some ways it takes the pressure off of January 1st but perhaps increases the need to embrace that truth every other day of the year.

What if this year every day was new? Every day was a clean slate? Every day was an opportunity to chase those God-given dreams and experience the newness of God’s love, joy and mercy for us?

How are you feeling about this New Year? If you’re feeling overwhelmed or ill-prepared, start with experiencing his mercies new and fresh each morning… one day at a time.

Leaders as Curators

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Have you ever had one of those experiences where you’ve offered advice to someone and for whatever reason they just didn’t listen to you?   And then someone else comes along, says the same thing and this person who you’ve been spending time with, pouring your heart and soul into, offering advice that you think is important for them to hear… heeds the advice of someone much less connected to them?  Basically the new voice gets the credit for what you’ve been telling them all along.

It happens all the time.  With our families.  With our friends.  With our staff.

For much of my leadership life I’ve been irritated by this dynamic.  I can give direction over and over but it’s often an outside voice that breaks through.

As leaders, we can either fight this dynamic or embrace it.  Embracing it doesn’t mean we give up on giving the direction we need to give.  It just means we need to look at our roles in a different way.  While we need to both speak and model the way, we can also embrace outside voices to reinforce the principles we’re trying to cultivate in our teams.

Your role as the day-to-day leader in an organization is to be the curator of content.  You must bring other voices to speak to the issues your team needs to hear.  You can’t say it all and they won’t listen to you all the time anyway.

Rather than feel the need to be the one with every brilliant idea, bring voices you trust to say what your team needs to hear.

This is an act of humility because it means acknowledging that outside voices will often be stronger than yours.  It’s a willingness to let go of the need to be the “know-it-all” and trust that your job is really to bring the information to the table in whatever form will actually get through to your team and influence change and growth.

You are the curator of content.

When you embrace this role, you can relinquish the need to be the one developing all the ideas and instead direct your energy to finding voices who can help say it for you.  Scour DVD teaching series, YouTube, training resources from subject experts, Podcasts, business leaders in your community.  Look around you for people who are saying what you need to say but perhaps in a different way.

And when you see that “ah ha” look in the eyes of your team, rather than get frustrated or jealous that someone else said it, be proud of the fact that you made the connection.

Being the leader doesn’t mean being the only voice.  It means knowing how to curate the voices that will bring the right ideas to help your team effectively carry out the mission.

Be the curator!