Our group continues to grow, which is so exciting! We’ll look at the Introduction and Chapters 1 & 2 today. We’ll look at the questions at the end of each chapter for our main focus, but feel free to chime in on anything that catches your attention in these chapters.
Before you post any responses, please read my disclaimer in BOLD at the bottom. And feel no pressure or expectation to respond to every question. I did to open conversations, but you respond to those parts that speak most to you.
Introduction-Humble Beginnings and Big Lessons
1. What “voices” did you think of that influenced your feelings about your leadership?
SJ -I could go pretty far back…we had women leaders in my home church growing up who modeled great leadership and some who gently nudged/encouraged me into leadership. In high school I had incredible opportunities to learn and practice leadership..some I’d forgotten about till this study. Then I had a season as a young-married where I had several godly women who were in leadership at our church who very intentionally poured into me. It’s humbling and inspiring to realize the ways God has been preparing and shaping me my whole life.
2. I loved reading Sherry and Jenni’s stories about when they realized their leadership “wiring” at young ages. Do you have a similar memory? Any feelings associated with the realization that you are a leader at heart?
SJ -I think my first leadership memory is 2nd grade. I was asked to tutor kids in reading. I absolutely loved the role. Then in 5th grade I was captain of the patrol (don’t laugh). 🙂 Awesome experience in organization and authority…it was a fit. I think it was then that I sensed how leadership is a responsibility & privilege…and can cause you to become too proud…I’m sure that was God.
3. Early influencers in your leadership development?
SJ -I loved the exercise of listing as many as I could think of. I do need to go back and thank them. Some of the influencers were people, like my choir director or youth leader…some were experiences, like Girls’ State or the Octagon Club.
Chapter 1-Only the Lonely
1. How do you handle the isolation and loneliness of leadership?
SJ -For me this has come in seasons/waves. I think so far my loneliest season was early in the current role I have (Dir of Discipleship). I had been so used to sharing leadership in Children’s and Women’s Ministry that stepping out solo was a bit scary and turned out to be pretty lonely. I think God did that intentionally…forced me to rely solely on Him. In “Linda’s Story,” she used another phrase, “Heaviness with the confidentiality.” I really identified with that too…I’m a sharer, so it’s been hard at times to bear some of that heaviness. Again, had to rely on God and not on people…I needed to learn how to do that. I don’t feel like I’m in that season anymore…not to that degree, anyway.
2. Age and gender…isolating factors?
SJ -maybe age?? But I don’t think so. Call me naive, but I have rarely been made to feel like my age or gender negate any of the gifts I’ve been blessed with. I have realized with much humility and gratitude that I have probably had that experience because so many brave women have gone before me and opened those doors. Praise God!
3. Encouragers and challengers…what’d you think?
SJ -both are meant to be positives in our lives, but for some, looking at challengers as a positive is hard. But I hope you could identify both in your life. It was a good exercise for me because God was showing me that those challengers are as important in my shaping and growth as a leader as the encouragers…not sure I was totally aware of that, being the non-confrontational person I am. 🙂 Gives me new perspective. Makes me want to find at least one more challenger.
Chapter 2-I’m Not Afraid
So…God has really been working HARD in me lately about the fear that seems to be a big part of my life, my decisions, my responses to life situations. I literally laughed out loud to see that this chapter was ANOTHER one of those lessons.
1. When do you feel most afraid in leadership?
SJ -For me…it’s the weight of responsibility. Knowing that what I say and do affects others really can cause me panic. I start to over-think and doubt. Fear paralyzes, which, of course, is what the enemy wants…so I pray…A LOT.
2. When you’re afraid…do you go IN, OUT, or UP?
SJ -Such a practical lesson and oh-so true. Lysa TerKeurst teaches a similar lesson about how we tend to respond in situations. So both Sherry and Lysa have learned (as we shall) that taking our responses (to fear, anger…) to GOD will help us be the overcomers God has equipped us to be. Would love to hear your practical strategies. I’m learning to know myself so that when I start down my “bad” path, I can catch myself before I spiral too far. I’m very emotion based and my mind can run away with all kinds of negative thoughts so that very soon that mole hill is an erupting volcano. Scripture and praise music are HUGE for me. They say the truths I can’t say when I’m in that place.
If you haven’t taken time to take notes on the how-to of going up, please do so this week. Writing those important steps down will take us a step closer to being able to go UP when life throws us a yuck-ball. Don’t hold stuff in. Tell someone (time to go to next question!). Bring it all to light!
3. Do you have a circle of godly friends who help you attack worry?
SJ -Accountability. So important. So hard. It takes time and intentionality. If you don’t have that circle of friends, start praying NOW that God will help you grow one. And you’ll have a big role to play in that. You may have to do the inviting, planning, and prompting. Our circles of friends are only as effective as our willingness to share and trust. So don’t ask someone you don’t know very well. You do have to be able to trust one another. And maybe your circle is ONE friend. Do it. Make it work…with lots of prayer and leading from God.
As though this isn’t long enough already, I just want to say that God has been showing me how we’re all wired so differently from one another. I used this particular lesson with our college group yesterday. One of the guys bravely said that fear is just as paralyzing for him, though his response is polar opposite of mine. The second he thinks he can’t, he just quits. He says, I don’t worry…I just don’t. And he regrets all the lost opportunities he’s let fear rob from him. So, don’t hesitate to share with us how you’re wired, how you respond.
BUT — here’s a disclaimer. We’re not behind closed doors. Please don’t post anything here that you wouldn’t want to be read by the world…because anyone can follow a blog. My prayer is that we’ll be able to be honest without being too revealing or specific in this forum. Don’t name names. Don’t tell too much…especially if it will be dishonoring of someone else. I believe God can use this medium in amazing ways…but so can the enemy, so let’s be wise in all we say and do. When we get to the place we need to talk…really talk, let’s meet at a coffee shop or a room at the church and share hearts.
Looking forward to all the ways God will work in and grow each of us!