Written by Cindy Beall
For years studies have typically shown that a woman speaks more words in a day than a man. Sometimes two times as much, maybe more. That statistic alone makes us more inclined to sin with our mouths than a man does. Whether we are talking too much, saying too much or divulging too much, the fact remains, we have more words to get out in an ordinary day than the average male.
Several months back, there was a mentor training event at my church. My dear friend and pastor’s wife, Amy Groeschel, and I both spoke and then I held a Q&A with Amy. During the Q&A, we were talking about being good stewards of our time. We discussed knowing how to get out of situations where people are justing asking for advice but never implementing what we’ve told them. And I said, “So, you’re talking about an askhole? Someone who asks for advice but it goes right through them.”
That’s right. Askhole.
In front of Amy. In front of my husband’s staff. In front of our sold-out, key volunteers, who remained silent and stunned for a bit before the laughter ensued.
From that moment forward, God began to work in me something fierce. I must have beaten myself up over that comment and lapse in wisdom for the next week. I felt Him so heavily say that if He is going to trust me to mentor, to speak into people’s lives, to influence leaders and speak from a stage, that He had to be able to trust what came out of my mouth. That included but wasn’t limited to gossip, course joking, extreme sarcasm at the expense of another, cussing, you name it.
(Cindy Beall cusses?)
We are women leaders in assorted roles within our churches and ministries. People are looking to us to lead them. If you are on staff, you probably have some group of people to lead – other staff or volunteer teams. If you are married to a pastor, you are in a leadership role whether you want to be or not. For me, I want to be someone God can trust with His sheep, with His people. In order for that to happen, I have to align my life with His will and allow Him to show me areas that need a major overhaul. I have to continually ask Him to show me where the clutter is in my life so that it can be removed. When it is, there is more room for the Holy Spirit to occupy my life and lead me so that I can lead others. If I want to be someone people can follow, I better get to work on my mouth.
We’d be wise to heed Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:29, which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Man, that verse is a killer. No unwholesome talk whatsoever. That is difficult for me as I’ve already shared. It is a high standard and it should be what we strive for. We are called to build others up. Our words should benefit listeners.
I’d like to give you a few things to think about in your own life in regard to your mouth:
- Be careful what you say. It is wise to consider what you say each and every day. A daunting task, yes. But so worth it as God continues to refine you. Before speaking, ask yourself: Is what I’m about to say beneficial? Is it uplifting? Am I building up or tearing down? Will this make someone uncomfortable?
- Be careful how much you say. Oftentimes people look to us to speak, especially in meetings or small group settings. Consider how often you speak in those types of settings. If you speak too much, no one else will. Also consider asking yourself this question: Am I saying this so that others can be impressed with me? A rule of thumb I try to live by is if it has already been said, there is no need for me to say it again.
- Be careful when you say it. Timing is everything. Consider when to say something. Oftentimes we end up saying something inappropriate for the setting we are in at the moment. This typically stems from a feeling of insecurity. Ask yourself: Why do I want to say this? Is it to gain attention because I am uncomfortable or feel a need for attention? I try to get to the motive behind my words. It helps my heart stay pure.
I’ve still got a long way to go. The sheer fact that I’m a talker doesn’t help matters. I’ve bitten my tongue and withheld more jokes and comments during the last three months than I can remember. My tongue is quite sore. Yet, at the same time, I’m finding more and more freedom. I hear the Holy Spirit gently nudge me and say, “Don’t say that.” And nine times out of ten, I am choosing not to. It’s an incredibly freeing experience.
Spend some time with your Heavenly Father on this issue. Ask Him to reveal to you the areas you need to change in regard to your mouth. Then, find a verse or two to commit to memory as you work on getting this area under the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
Written by Brandi Wilson
Back in 2011 I stood in the back of a hotel conference room filled with 140 pastors’ wives and I exhaled. Our first Leading and Loving It re:treat was underway and my heart was full… and my body and mind were exhausted. But we had done it, Lori and I had dreamed for months about taking our virtual LALI community from computer screens and phones to face-to-face interaction and here we were, our dream a reality.
But getting there was tough and I personally felt challenged in so many ways. I was using an entire gift set I wasn’t sure actually even existed in my personal DNA… and I had to also deliver a 30-minute message (cringe). I was exercising event muscles that I had never used before. Lori and I had hoped for 30 women and we had 140, more than 3 times what we had planned for. At that point in my life, the largest events I had organized were preschool birthday parties for my own kids. As much as I was proud of what had been accomplished I also felt completely stretched… in all honesty I was just about ready to snap.
Leadership has always created a tension in my life. Not because I didn’t love it but because it isn’t natural for me. Being a mom is a natural role for me, I don’t always get it right but for the most part I don’t double guess my parenting. I’m not a perfect wife by any means, but I have instinct when it comes to loving my husband well. But with leadership my instinct is slow and I often double guess my thought process and decision-making.
A few months back one of our staff members, Holly Brown, was giving a staff talk on development. She used the expression “We need to grow and be stretched as leaders, but not to the point of snapping.”
That phrase really stuck with me. Often the tension I have felt in leadership is being stretched and growing but not to the point where I snap, and sometimes that is a very fine line. I have a friend who always says “I’m just trying to stretch my capacity” and I’ve thought many times “I’m at capacity, I don’t need any stretching.” But after being in leadership since my early 20s I’m starting to appreciate the stretching. I’m able to acknowledge when I know things are getting close to snapping and recognize what drains me, what grows me and what fills me up.
Stretching is probably the one truth I wish had been shared with me when we entered into leadership. I wish an older pastor’s wife had put her hands on my shoulders, looked in my eyes and said, “You’ll never have it all figured out. You will morph and grow into the leader God has designed you to be through busy seasons, tough times and celebrations. God is constant, circumstances are not. Trust that He will carry you through and strengthen you in the process.”
In leadership we often feel like when we’ve taken hold of the wheel and gotten the boat steady before another storm rolls in… a beloved staff member exits, your church has to add additional services, you’re running things on a shoe string budget, a relational conflict flares up, a new event is created that has everyone working 60 hour weeks, you’re in the middle of a building project. The list could go on and on, but in leadership we live life fluid to the situations developing around us and lead through them.
Three truths when being stretched…
- Surround yourself with community. Whether it is relationships from your church or relationships created through Leading and Loving It ConnectLIVE or ConnectLOCAL groups, avoid isolation and seek out friends who will encourage and support you. I could have never made it through seasons of stretching if I didn’t have cheerleaders cheering me on.
- In seasons of being stretched, there is no greater reminder that I am incapable on my own. In my weakness He is stronger and there is no great truth I want lived out in my life.
- Embrace the season you are in. Sometimes we get so caught up in the details of all we have going on and we forget to recognize the work God is doing in us and through us. We get to be His vessels of change. Don’t forget the importance of enjoying the moment. Don’t focus so much on the final product you don’t appreciate the process.
Here we are, gearing up for our 5th re:treat and I’m hosting again in Nashville. Even though this is my third re:treat in my home church, I know stretching will come before November 10th gets here… This time I’m choosing to take my own advice and embrace the stretching!
Take some time today with God and thank him for growing you into the leader He wants you to be.
Written by Lori Wilhite
I have control issues.
I like to pretend that I am super laid back. But I’m not. It’s so much cooler to be laid back than to have opinion domination issues. But, alas, that’s where I’m at. *sigh*
When it comes to delegation, I know all of the right things, but actually doing those right things is an entirely different challenge.
What holds me back from delegating? Brace yourself for a truckload of hard-to-admit-truth.
1. I know how I want things done; I’m pretty picky. I’m not sure people can do it as well as I can. And, shockingly, people can’t read my mind. Can you believe it?! One of my many struggles as a leader is being able to effectively communicate vision. I’m learning and growing in this area, but it is so hard to get thoughts and ideas from my mind, into discernible words that can be translated into the brain of someone else accurately. It is usually like the telephone game gone terribly wrong.
2. I don’t have time to involve others. Y’all, it takes time to delegate tasks. And, I don’t know about you, but I struggle to find time to get my laundry and grocery shopping done. So, finding time to teach, instruct, and explain seems a little daunting at times.
3. I hate delegating what I consider busy work. I stink at administrative stuff. I have to surround myself with people who can make spreadsheets and run budgets. So, I struggle handing off admin tasks because, even though I know better, I think everyone despises those jobs like I do.
4. I really don’t like delegating to my already busy friends. This is probably my greatest struggle. I know my friends are buried under mounds of ministry, family, and personal tasks. Rather than ask my swamped buddies to add one more thing to their long To-Do Lists, I’ll just jump in and take care of it.
So then, why do I push, push, push myself to delegate anyway?
Check out Exodus 18:12-27 MSG:
“Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a Whole-Burnt-Offering and sacrifices to God. And Aaron, along with all the elders of Israel, came and ate the meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God. The next day Moses took his place to judge the people. People were standing before him all day long, from morning to night. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What’s going on here? Why are you doing all this, and all by yourself, letting everybody line up before you from morning to night?”
Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me with questions about God. When something comes up, they come to me. I judge between a man and his neighbor and teach them God’s laws and instructions.”
Moses’ father-in-law said, “This is no way to go about it. You’ll burn out, and the people right along with you. This is way too much for you—you can’t do this alone. Now listen to me. Let me tell you how to do this so that God will be in this with you. Be there for the people before God, but let the matters of concern be presented to God. Your job is to teach them the rules and instructions, to show them how to live, what to do. And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men—men who fear God, men of integrity, men who are incorruptible—and appoint them as leaders over groups organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They’ll be responsible for the everyday work of judging among the people. They’ll bring the hard cases to you, but in the routine cases they’ll be the judges. They will share your load and that will make it easier for you. If you handle the work this way, you’ll have the strength to carry out whatever God commands you, and the people in their settings will flourish also.”
Moses listened to the counsel of his father-in-law and did everything he said. Moses picked competent men from all Israel and set them as leaders over the people who were organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty, and by ten. They took over the everyday work of judging among the people. They brought the hard cases to Moses, but in the routine cases they were the judges. Then Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law who went home to his own country.”
Whoa. The Bible makes a great case for delegation. I don’t care if you’re leading 60 people, 600, 6,000 or the some 600,000 people that Moses lead – you can’t do everything for everyone all by yourself. Why? Because “You’ll burn out … you can’t do this alone.” I don’t want to burn out. I certainly don’t want to do ministry and life alone. And I want to have the strength to carry out whatever God commands me.
So, how do I delegate?
1. No, things may not get done exactly like I have them planned in my head. But *gasp* they might get done better! I had a friend tell me a few years ago that a team will function at 70% of the capacity of the leader. So, a level 10 leader would have a team functioning at a level 7. Well, I knew right away that I was no level 10 leader. I needed to remove myself as the ceiling over certain ministry areas, because I knew my team could out perform me given the opportunity. I had to get out of the way so that they could flourish.
2. I’ve got to set aside time to delegate so that I can save time on the back end. And time, my friends, is a hot commodity that we all could use a little more of. So much more can be accomplished when you have additional hands doing the work.
3. Delegation blesses people with the opportunity to serve and grow. Thankfully the Lord has given us all different gifts. There are people that would love nothing more than to use their gifts to serve God and help others. I can’t rob them of the opportunity to help just because I don’t personally have that gifting. I’ve got to learn to do what only I can do, and release others to do what only they can do.
4. I have to stop saying “No” for people. I have a wonderful member of our team that I’ve been friends with for years. I’ve known how busy her ministry and family life were, but I wanted to bring her onto our leadership team. But every time I would think about asking her, I would talk myself out of it. I would say “no” for her without giving her the opportunity to decide for herself. Stop saying “no” for people. Trust that they will say “no” for themselves if they need to. Extend the opportunity to serve.
What can you do to today to share the load a little bit more? Who do you need to stop saying “no” for and give them the opportunity to serve? What are the things that only you can do?
Written by Linda Seidler
What does it really take for me to be a confident leader? Is there a quick formula, a tried-and-true method, a step-by-step instruction manual that can help me?
These are questions that I’ve asked myself, and I believe that many of you may be asking yourself as well. Leadership is often very scary. It can be downright overwhelming if we’re being totally honest. Staying confident as we make a commitment before God to lead, guide and even nurture people as we walk along a path together is a big deal!
Throughout the bible we see accounts of people who were not completely confident in God’s call on their lives. When Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites, he was never completely confident in his ability to speak (Exodus 5:10). And in a conversation with the Lord, Jeremiah told God that he was too young to do what God called him to do (Jeremiah 1:6-8). These men led and guided groups that ranged from only a few people to groups in the thousands and even millions. And somehow they learned to manage their doubts and lead in the midst of uncertainty. How did they do it?!
In November, 2014, I hopped on a plane to Las Vegas to attend my 4th annual Leading and Loving It re:treat. I want you to know that I almost didn’t get on the plane that day because of some incredibly stressful circumstances. Six months prior, our church purchased and moved into a new building in a different state, and I was overwhelmed by the magnitude of the transition. During the same time, our congregation doubled in size, and I was stretched in leadership and time management. Because of this, my confidence was beginning to be challenged on every level.
Yet at the encouragement of my husband, I went to re:treat. While I was there, I became vulnerable and open to the voice of God. I became honest with myself, acknowledged both the doubt I had in my leadership abilities and my fear of fully grasping the call on my life.
In this significant moment, I began to recognize that my confidence would be boosted from a shift in my thinking. And if God believed in me, believed in my potential and put me in this position, then I had to believe it too.
Maybe you have been in the same place, or maybe you’re there right now and are feeling discouraged and alone as you lead.
Well, I want to take a moment and boost your confidence! Let me start by reminding you that leading is a journey and not a final destination. Every leader is in continual transition. So anything we can do to help each other along the way will help us become stronger as we lead.
Here are some tips to help you stay confident as you lead.
Confidence Tip #1: Give yourself grace to make mistakes.
We are not striving to be perfect. We are strivingto be better leaders. Making a mistake here and there can actually help you as you develop in your leadership. Forgetting to call someone; speaking unkindly; over-scheduling meetings… A mistake doesn’t mean you are less of a leader. It means that you are a human leader. What’s most important is getting past the mistake, learning from it and starting again. Don’t allow a mess-up make you feel like a screw-up! Remember that with any mistake, God gives his grace willingly and freely to you. It’s important that you do the same to yourself. Being a confident leader doesn’t mean you’re a perfect leader. We are all imperfect leaders leading imperfect people under the authority and grace of a perfect God.
Confidence Tip #2: Your “voice” is the right voice for you.
What is the thing that you’re most passionate about and the thing that drives you as a leader? What is your “voice”? Your “voice”, by my definition, are the giftings, passions and desires that are unique and given by God to you to use for his purpose and glory. And while your “voice” may sound much different than someone else’s, that’s perfectly okay! Some of you may preach; some may lead the children’s ministry; others are involved in missions; while still others are on the worship team. We devalue ourselves when we try to be like someone else instead of who God has prepared and positioned us to be. It always leads to frustration and lack of confidence in ourselves. God didn’t intend for you, nor does he want you, to be like anyone else. Be confident in YOU because you are enough. You really are.
Confidence Tip #3: Be ready for critics but not afraid of being criticized.
So here’s the deal…we cannot avoid criticism. If you lead, you’re immediately in the forefront and visibly seen. But do not be afraid! Sound familiar?! This is the same statement God spoke to Joshua right before he entered the promised land (Joshua 1). Why? Because God knew that Joshua would come up against people and difficult circumstances and would be openly criticized and condemned. God wanted to assure Joshua that he would strengthen him and be with him every step of the way. And God wants you to know the same. People can criticize you, but they do not have the power to defeat you unless you allow it. Remember that with God’s help, you are able to stay strong, and with the strength of Christ you can do all things. Through God’s word you have the firm foundation necessary to withstand anything that comes your way!
Written by Tiffany Cooper
Many years ago I discovered a connection between my kids and their occasional frustration filled outbursts. I tried to blame it on sleep deprivation, hunger, developmental stages, and even hormones. Then one day I had the realization that I was the root cause for their behavior. The moments when I was impatient and quick to raise my voice influenced them to do the same with one another. Even though I was instructing them about how they should use their words, I was being a poor example. In those moments I was living the ineffective motto of “do as I say and not as I do”. Thankfully, I was able to change my behavior to match my words and lead my kids in a better direction.
Leading by example is one of the most powerful leadership principles that impacts every area of life. Our example sets a standard, teaches expectations, and communicates what is acceptable. Leadership is influence. As women in ministry, our influence reaches far beyond our words. The motto “It’s not what you say but what you do” rings true. Although there is great value in our words, our actions show others if we truly believe what we’re saying. Our walk talks louder than our talk talks. (Say that fast 10 times!)
Jesus walked the talk. He’s is the greatest leader we could ever follow. Throughout the Bible, He gives us the answers we need to lead others successfully. In John 13:12-15 he speaks to the disciples:
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Jesus didn’t just set an example for the disciples; He set an example for us too.
Three Leadership Lessons from John 13:12-15
- Jesus set a standard. Not only did he communicate what was important by washing the disciples feet, he was unapologetic about setting a standard for them to follow. As women in ministry, we should be unapologetic about our influence as leaders. Although we don’t shout it from the mountaintops, we acknowledge that our example sets a standard that others will follow. If we desire for our churches to walk in love, to serve, to sacrifice, then we influence others by setting the standard for how to love, how to serve, and how to sacrifice. This truth should inspire us to lead in such a way that we can echo what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11:1 “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”
- Jesus taught expectations. Unlike the mixed messages I was sending my kids years ago, there was no confusion about what Jesus expected from the disciples. He washed their feet and then instructed them to do the same. My kids were never going to meet my expectations for behavior because I was teaching them mixed messages. My talk didn’t match my walk and ultimately my walk spoke louder than my talk. As leaders, it’s unfair for us to teach an expectation that we don’t model ourselves. How can we expect our staff to protect a positive, life-giving work environment if we’re pessimistic and disagreeable? No amount of pep talks about expectations can combat our actions. Our actions communicate what is acceptable. As leaders, we must reinforce our expectations with both words with works.
- Jesus communicated using words and works. The one-two punch. In John 13, Jesus performed a work and then used words as reinforcement. Words are good and works are good. But when we combine the power of both words and works it’s a one-two punch that takes our leadership to a whole new level. Peanut butter is good. Chocolate is good. But when you put the two together and you have a one-two, knock out, whole other level kind of greatness. Can you feel me?
Friends, leadership isn’t easy. Yet, if we study scripture and follow the example of Christ, we have everything we need to know. Successful leadership is rooted in one truth; we lead by example in both our words and our works. Our example sets a standard, teaches expectations and communicates what is acceptable.
What is your example communicating to others? Are you sending mixed messages of “do as I say and not as I do”?