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?

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.

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!

5 Steps for Leading Change

Steps

Whether you’re leading an entire organization through change or coaching a staff person through a transition, leading through change is one of the most important tasks you’ll do as a leader.

In leading through various seasons of change, here are 5 steps I encourage you to consider whatever change you’re facing.

1) Listen Well

When change is imminent we can be tempted to either operate in denial until we’re forced to change or rush to make changes to get it over with as soon as possible.  Either extreme robs you of the opportunity to listen well.  When you need to lead through change, take time to listen.  Listen for lessons from history.  Listen to fears and concerns.  Listen for the reason behind emotions.

2) Question Thoroughly

After you’ve listened well, begin to ask questions…. lots of them.  Particularly if you’re leading change through an issue that is new to you.  Whether it be an organization you recently joined or a project that you weren’t intimately involved with.  Asking questions will help you uncover valuable information about sensitivities, key players, historical nuances, etc.  Questions will help you better understand the landscape and make more thoughtful decisions.

3) Evaluate Rigorously

Change is challenging.  It’s tempting to make snap judgments or jump to quick fixes.  Take the time and mental energy to evaluate the situation from all angles before hurrying to a decision.  As part of your evaluating, seek wise counsel from others who have either led through something similar or who can add helpful perspective.

4) Decide Prayerfully

Once you’ve listened, questioned and evaluated it’s time to make a decision about what to change and how to lead through it.  Consider everything you’ve gleaned in the process so far and prayerfully decide how to move forward.

5) Direct Confidently

Finally, you need to provide strong, confident direction for change.  Your confidence is drawn from the intentional process you’ve followed and the prayerful decision you’ve arrived at.  Now you must direct change with strength of vision and decisive action.

Leading change is not easy, nor should it be taken lightly.  But this is exactly why you are in a position of leadership – to help set the course and lead others in the direction God is calling you.  Taking the proper time to listen, question, and evaluate before you decide and direct is critical to leading through change in a way that honors those you’re leading.  Change is emotional and stressful.  Taking time for process equips you to be aware and sensitive while earning trust with those you lead.  Additionally, the process builds courage for everyone involved.

What change are you facing?  What step do you need to take today?

 

 

Enough to Be Dangerous

I’m not old.

Neither am I young.

In this stage of life I want to be both.  I want the maturity and wisdom of age and experience but I want to cling to the energy and idealism of youth.  I want to believe my ideas are still new and innovative.  In fact perhaps the greatest danger of this season is in both believing I still have great ideas but also the wisdom of experience.

A recipe for dangerous pride.

It’s not impossible to both have great ideas and the wisdom of experience.  It’s just dangerous to assume you have both because of this stage of life.

block

This is the “I know enough to be dangerous” stage of leadership.  I’ve circled the leadership block enough times for the scenery to be familiar.  I know this block well.  I know the twists and turns of the road.  I know where the potholes are.  I’m confident to direct others who join me.

But at this stage of life and leadership, it’s time for my territory to expand.  Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention to the new construction and how it’s changing traffic patterns.  Are there new roadways that now connect to my block that I haven’t been exploring?

Before I exhaust the metaphor completely…

What I’m learning about this season of leadership is that it’s easy to get comfortable with where we grew up as leaders.  We have ideas, systems, and filters for decision-making that are common and comfortable.  If we choose to stay only with this set of experiences we will limit ourselves.  We will be inclined to reject new or different ideas.  We will pridefully rely on what we know.  It worked for us in the past so we’re convinced it will work in the future.

The danger is that the landscape is changing whether you’re exploring it or not.  You must listen to new voices.  You must challenge yourself to consider new ideas.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s stretching.  It batters your confidence.

But our ability to continue to grow as leaders is contingent on our ability to keep ourselves slightly uncomfortable.  It’s in the discomfort where we continue to learn and grow.

Are you in an uncomfortable season of leadership?  What are you learning from it?

 

Ever Have Leadership Questions?

When CLOUT released I had the privilege of connecting with Bob Tiede. Bob has been on the staff of CRU (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ) for 43-years. He serves as the Director of Global Operations Leadership Development, and is passionate about seeing leaders grow and multiply their effectiveness.  Bob just released a free ebook in which he shares 103 quotes that have inspired his leadership.  I thought you would enjoy checking it out!  Here’s more from Bob about it:

103

I love questions!

That’s certainly no surprise.  By asking questions and really listening to the responses, I’ve learned a lot as a leader and as a person.

I love quotes!

In my quest to learn and lead with questions, I’ve come across hundreds – 103 to be exact – quotes that really inspire me to continue asking and listening.

These quotes offer me daily inspiration.  I thought they might do the same for you.  So, I’ve compiled my favorite quotes about seeking and listening and put them in an E-Book for you.  It’s my gift to you.  I hope it brings you joy and inspiration.

Here is a sampling of:

 103 Quotes Your Mentor Will Share With You Sooner or Later

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”  Henry David Thoreau

“No one ever listened himself out of a job.”  President Calvin Coolidge

“A fool finds no pleasure in understanding, but delights in sharing his own opinions.”   King Solomon

To request your free E-Book – please click “HERE” to go to my Blog:  LeadingWithQuestions.com

Don’t Ignore the Ops

Why did you get into ministry leadership?

Was it to process 501 (c) (3) paperwork?  Maybe create budgets?  Build organizational charts?  Fix broken computers?

Yeah, probably not.

In fact, when you considered getting into ministry leadership, these things probably didn’t enter your mind.  You didn’t study accounting, HR or IT.  But while operational issues aren’t the most compelling reason to be a leader, paying attention to operations is essential for any great leader.

Operations are like the oil to the ministry engine.  Without effective operations, the ministry engine is not going to run well and eventually poor operations will burn a ministry engine up.

Low_Oil_Lamp_Red

That’s why it’s critical for us as leaders to value the operational needs of our organization.

Operational issues don’t get me up in the morning but they will keep me up at night.

While you’ll probably never be an expert on operations, here are some things that you can do to make sure operations are properly supported.

  1. Invest in qualified staff.  It’s tempting to put off hiring operational roles when there are pressing ministry needs, however good operations staff will save you a lot of time, money and headaches in the long run.
  2. Reinforce operational systems.  Most of your staff are not going to be excited about filling out the proper paperwork for a check request or creating their annual budget, but as the leader you must reinforce the value of these processes.  The easiest way to reinforce it, is to model it.  Meet deadlines and turn in the proper paperwork.  Don’t expect to be given exceptions because you’re the leader.  What you value, others will value too.
  3. Keep your nose in it.  Even though you hire qualified people who understand it better than you, don’t allow yourself to become too disconnected.  I personally sign every check that our accounting team processes.  This takes a couple of hours of my week but it helps me see in real time how we’re spending our ministry dollars.
  4. Meet regularly with your operations staff.  Create a regular meeting time to check in with this team to hear their needs, frustrations or concerns.  By creating time for them, you convey the value of operations to the overall ministry needs.  It will also create an opportunity for you to hear of concerns before they become crisis.
  5. Don’t underestimate the value of your Board.  Enlist a Board of Directors with proven competency in operational issues and fiduciary responsibility.  Be accountable to this team and heed their advice.

Ministry leadership is a great honor and privilege.  While operational issues will rarely be the motivator to get you up in the morning, poor operations will be the thing that keep you up at night.  Too many ministries have floundered because a leader took their eye off of this important element of leadership.

 

Balancing Conflict & Confidence – Guest Post by Chris Rivers

Today, Chris Rivers is sharing his thoughts on balancing conflict and confidence.  I connected with Chris recently to learn more about CultureBus, the new organization that he has launched “to help ministry leaders create a culture development model that helps increase their leadership pipeline and accomplish their vision”.  If you need help getting your team to embrace the vision and DNA of your organization, you should check out what Chris is doing with CultureBus.

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Conflict is everywhere. We all face it. Some call it opposition, others call it tension, but you can guarantee that if God’s calling you into greatness, you’re going to meet conflict. I’ve found that conflict is like a close neighbor- you are bound to run into it at some point. Conflict can trip you up, cause you to lose focus, and also forget about another neighbor that you may not have seen lately- confidence. Confidence is a very different neighbor from conflict. It is always ready to encourage and lend a hand whenever you are in need. You never want to avoid confidence, as a matter of fact, you love when it’s around.

When I think about people in the Bible who had confidence in the midst of conflict- Joseph always comes to mind. From Genesis 37-41 we watch Joseph ride a conflict rollercoaster. He was sold into slavery by his brothers, wrongfully accused of raping his boss’s wife, thrown into prison, and forgotten by someone who could have helped him. When the time comes for him to be brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dream, instead of seeing it as an opportunity to prove himself or a moment to escape his circumstances, he stands in confidence. When asked by Pharoah if he could interpret dreams, his response is: “I can’t, but God can.” Joseph found confidence in God’s abilities, not his own. He realized that God was orchestrating all his circumstances, which included conflict.

In the face of conflict a confident leader:

  • responds in faith
  • accuses no one
  • accepts his/her circumstances
  • is patient with others
  • doesn’t complain
  • is not afraid of the outcome
  • has focus
  • embraces seasons of unknown because he/she knows who makes the seasons in the first place

When we are faced with circumstances full of conflict, we have an opportunity to find confidence in God’s ability to see us through it. By embracing conflict as part of our process, and facing it head-on, we have the chance to grow our confidence in who God says He is. When you know that God stands with you, you are able to face conflict with a different mentality and strategy.

ChrisRivers2

It’s not what I know, but who I know that helps me move from conflict to confidence. Focusing on my identity in Christ will lead to confidence. For those of us that call ourselves Christ followers, we should expect that while conflict is inevitable, it is an opportunity to become more confident in our identity. Conflict should always accompany confidence, because we have the help of the one who knows the end of the story.

Propel Women

“Yes! Yes! Yes! YESSSSS!

Was my exclamation when Chris Caine began sharing her heart for Propel Women.

Propel believes in the passion, purpose, and potential of every woman every where. Propel exists to honor the calling of every woman, empower her to lead, equip her for success and develop a sense of God given purpose.

Whether you are leading one or one thousand, we hear you. Whether you stumbled into leading or were called into leading, we see you. Whether you want to lead or are trying to find your way in leadership, we are here for you. Propel wants to launch you forward.

Check out this video from Chris to learn a bit more…

Propel Women Trailer from Propel on Vimeo.

If this sounds like you, if it’s something your heart resonates with jump over to PropelWomen.org to download our free digital magazine.  Propel will launch in full force in 2015 and I can’t wait to see what God has in store!

Great days are ahead for women who lead!