Just Lead! Week One

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.

Extra thoughts

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!


Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

8 thoughts on “Just Lead! Week One

  1. CA-I started writing my comments and ran out of room so I have started over so I can respond with shorter notes. I first accepted the position of Human Resources Manager at my company (after much prayer). I lacked a college degree but I had a Vice President that allowed me to take classes in HR. I attended a staff meeting every morning with all men in the beginning and it was very scary and lonely at first. Definitely gender was an isolating factor. Over time I developed a working relationship with them and had more self confidence. God provided just what I needed all through my career.

  2. VT-As the first born of 4 siblings, leadership came pretty early for me, just ask my siblings. In addition to being born first, I was also a military brat which meant you either lead or you got left behind. My biggest role model was my father, who always instilled in me to be a desire to think for myself and be independent. You ladies have come along just at the right time, as I have begun a new role as manager and I will be leading my first bible study class this fall at New Cov. God has provided this study and you ladies to me at a time when I really need to “Just Lead”. I look forward to hearing from each of you about your experiences as women leaders.

  3. KB – I could really relate to the dilemma of appearing bossy compared to leading. I have been guilty of “just doing it” and not developing other leaders as much as I should. It is a conscious effort to nudge and even allow others to lead. I have been working on that especially with my daughters. One question in the first chapter was to think of a woman in your life who has made a marked difference. That bothered me because I could hardly could think of any. Before I started intentionally seeking God in my faith walk, it was men that encouraged me to lead. It has only been in the last 10-12 years that women have been a source of influence which reinforces to me the need for women to be more encouraging, challenging, and affirming to other women. I thought it was interesting that one of my “encouragers” was also a challenger in my life but most were one or the other! Insecurity, fear and pride…I recognized myself in these also. I think I am afraid (fear) of being wrong (pride) and looking like I don’t know what I am talking about (insecurity) which then leaves me not articulating my thoughts as clearly as I would like which then makes me frustrated (inadequacy)! LOL And lastly, thankfully, I do feel like I am in a supersonic-got-my-back-pray-til-the-cows-come-home SWAT team that I don’t get to SEE enough but know they are there for me any time of day or night. Hopefully they know I am there for them in prayer or presence when they need me. I thank God for this group of Godly women! I think often of who I “want to be when I grow up” and many Godly examples are younger than me! I still hope there is time! HA! LOL I love the way this study is encouraging reflection but also action! Looking forward to hearing from others!

  4. KD: This book offers (already in the first 2 chapters) many thoughts about leadership and God’s role for women in it. I do find it exciting that New Cov has so many women in leadership roles (both paid and volunteer)! I feel this brings a variety of thoughts, experiences and knowledge to the entire church body!

    Jenni’s story touched me the most. (although I’m sure all of us see some part of ourselves in both Jenni and Sherry)! From a young child to a grown adult I have always set back in every new situation until I feel I have either enough information to share or an encourager or challenger comes along and directs me to step up to the plate. I was always surprised and still am as I think back on my life and wonder how I got this leadership position or that position and why! Usually out of uncertainty or fear I can easily go “IN”! Like some others, when I think back to who was my biggest encourager and challenger it was my father. Maybe because I was the first born and also because I definitely wanted to please. But many special friends and women have definitely been encouraging me on this life long journey!

  5. KD: A SWAT team is a great name for accountability partners! Love that!! I have been blessed to not only have a great Women’s Bible Study here at our own church, but I have a great group of women (college and H.S. friends) that make up my SWAT team! Prayer Warriors is usually what we call ourselves.

    If I am totally honest though, that fear of failure (pride) or inadequacy has caused me to not always listen to those encouragers. I can often times keep looking “UP” instead of stepping out of that boat in faith. (Probably hoping I didn’t hear it correctly or maybe God will change His mind!) I do love this book’s encouragement of seeking those you trust and asking questions. It’s ok to ask questions and seek help. Don’t empower the enemy! Don’t stay isolated! And in prayer, trust God’s direction!

  6. There is so much in this first reading that I’m not sure where to start. I think my first memories of wanting to lead in some form or fashion was in elementary school. This led me down a road into nursing, then into secondary education, then into a different field altogether. Off & on during my entire working career I volunteered in the church as a teacher in upper elementary, middle school, high school & adult education. I discovered that I am happiest teaching adults in the Christian education arena. The one person that always seems to come to mind who was a voice for me was my mother. She was the education director of the church we belonged to for many years & she was a great Christian influence on me. I struggle though with the fear that I am going to do or say something that will steer someone in the wrong direction, so often times I am almost paralyzed to do anything. I also quite often fear what I say will be criticized so I sometimes don’t say what maybe I should. So I have a tendency to “go in”, but I am working on going “up” more. I need to work on scriptures to help me do that. I also know that I don’t have the challengers that I need & I think part of that goes back to the fear & some uncertainty of how others will respond to me. I know I need to start praying for that person or persons whom God sees fit to be my challengers. I need to start praying more, reading more & seeking out others who have been successful at leadership in order to become a more effective leader.

  7. I tried to leave a reply Thursday night but I think I was so tired I hit the wrong button or didn’t hit the right one! So I will try again! I remember enjoying making decisions as a young child! What games we should play who should have what parts when we performed a little play, what clothes I wanted or didn’t want to wear! I didn’t like to waste time so when a discussion came up about what to do, I usually was quick with a suggestion and conclusion! My mother was my model as she was a volunteer 4-H leader and church officer but she was more quiet in her service style. She also was very encouraging and could put a positive spin on anything. For example I was ‘bossy’ ‘headstrong and strong willed’ and a bit impulsive. My mom, however, would say I was ‘asertive’, ‘Determined with perseverance’ and was good in ‘Impromptu’ situations! Aren’t Mom’s great?! I struggle with being too much ‘in charge’ and have to try hard to stop interjecting MY perspectives but rather draw out Other’s comments in groups! I am learning as I age that although I do have thoughts to share, it is really rewarding to listen more and that some silent pauses are OK in a group. I still struggle with over commitment that leaves me short on preparation time, but I still thoroughly love meeting new people and helping them Fit into any group I am a part of. My career is service and people oriented which is usually different everyday and that suits me fine. It keeps me challenged and having young interns under my supervision keeps me on my toes. This fast paced daily schedule is why I really like my weekly relax and refocus class. I meet new people, I help others feel better, and it Makes Me SLOW DOWN and Listen to a short scripture in a QUIET atmosphere-something I rarely get! (but I still get to choose the poses!)Have I mentioned I need to work on ‘control issues? Looking forward to next weeks readings!

  8. What a great week of sharing! I’ve enjoyed hearing your stories & perspectives. I’m already learning so much about each of you & marvel at how God gifted & called you into leadership early in life. I feel I’m already thinking a little differently…and we’ve only begun!!
    Let’s challenge each other…hold one another accountable to finding an encourager & challenger to intentionally walk beside us. I’ll be asking who you’ve found!!
    I notice those who’ve registered as contributors seem to have more space to comment–so yea!
    Talk to you tomorrow about Week 2! Honored to walk through Just Lead with you. In Him,

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