I wonder if your world got as hectic last week as mine did!? I suspect that’s the case as we had so many less comments. I do hope you’ll pick back up this week, reading chapters 6, 7, & 8. Here are my responses to those chapters. I look forward to hearing yours!
Chapter 6–Make Up Your Mind Already!
1. Where in your life is indecision holding you back?
2. Describe a time when you sensed God’s direction in making a decision.
3. Identify a situation in which you need to be taking the next best step.
4. What issue most commonly traps you with indecision: control, impatience, listening, avoidance, or fatigue? What re some ways you can avoid this trap?
SJ – Decision-making — as an introvert, I tend to do most of my processing in my own head, needing time to think through situations before responding. I have learned how important it is to also take time to talk through situations with colleagues as well..that two-minds-are-better-than-one idea. What can happen in a team setting for me is I find myself agreeing with every suggestion/idea as they’re presented, seeing good and purpose in them all…still needing time to process all of it before I can feel good about the best idea. On a staff that has so many extroverts, I don’t always have the luxury of having that time to myself. 🙂 So I am learning to lean heavily into God, trusting His leadership, opening myself up to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in those situations. I so agree (p. 75) that we are “stewards of people and resources God has entrusted to us,” so that holy discernment is of utmost importance.
Oh, and then there’s the wanting to know the end from the beginning (p. 75). It’s so nice to know I’m not the only person who thinks like this. God is so good at giving us only the next step, and on my journey I have to say Jenni’s advice on “next-best-step decisions” is spot on (p. 76). I can’t think of a time that God gave me the big picture. He gives me the next step and I have to have “faith for the unknown and obedience to the next step of action” (p. 76). Simply remaining faithful to our next step keeps us under God’s authority and plan, it keeps us sane, it helps to keep us from the trap of indecision.
She gives us a list of issues we deal with when trapped by indecision: control, impatience, listening, avoidance, fatigue. I can honestly say I deal with all of these at some point. God has been trying to teach me how to wait on Him for YEARS. Impatience is my natural wiring, so working toward patience take much intentionality. My own busyness can keep me from taking the time to listen for God, and I am not a big one for confrontation, so my natural tendency to avoid tough decisions is something else I have to overcome (through the strength of God). But I think fatigue is my big Achilles heel. When I’m tired, I over-react, I become very susceptible to falling into my “natural” wirings listed above, and I let my emotions run amok. I have to make myself take the time for rest in those high-demand seasons (which isn’t natural for me).
I loved Jenni’s use of Esther throughout this chapter…probably my favorite, most-identifiable character from the Bible for me, is now even more relate-able. The fact Jenni could outline the steps Esther took in making her big decision is remarkable and a great example.
“Fight against the voice of pride that tries to convince you that you have to have it all figured out” is a truth that is very freeing for this independent pleaser (p. 83)!
Chapter 7–Go Big or Go Home
1. When in your leadership do you notice tiny heart syndrome?
2. What scares you most about dreaming big?
3. Do you work in an environment that encourages big thinking? If not, are there things you can do to change this? What are they?
SJ-Tiny Heart Syndrome, such an interesting concept, and so true! How many times have I heard people say things like, “Just don’t have any expectations, then you won’t be disappointed.” Sherry is so right that we can limit ourselves out of fear instead of dreaming big out of faith (p. 86). Then I read what she says about what it really looks like to be a leader who dreams big…”exposing your vulnerabilities and putting yourself out there for people to tell you all the reasons you can’t (p. 88).” Whoa. No wonder we hold back! In my experience fear is that thing that will keep me from trying something “out of the box.” I’m a perfectionist, so the thought of not doing something successfully is tough to lean into. Being okay with trying my hardest and failing…just doesn’t compute. But I am seeing that there is an element of risk in ministry. We’ll never accomplish exceptional things without trusting that God can give us everything we need to try all that He call us to. Gulp.
Several of us did Kelly Minter’s study on Nehemiah, so maybe we can dust out the cobwebs to remember his leadership examples. One of the BIG things I took away from that study was what Sherry points out…he took a lot of time to pray and seek God before taking his first step toward fulfilling the vision God had given him. There’s that patient thing again, waiting on God to give us that next-step toward His plan.
Sherry uses the phrase “don’t step ahead of God (p. 89).” I use the phrase, “don’t RUN ahead of God.” When I get excited about something I tend to RUN with it, then I end up trying to fulfill that vision in my own strength, limited to my abilities to see and do. It’s when I slow down and WAIT for God to show me the next step that I end up walking with God through a project rather than running ahead of Him.
Loved Sherry’s napkin lesson:
1. Wait for God.
2. Do your homework.
3. Don’t do it alone.
4. Never give up.
Obstacles are a big part of risk-taking. I think we have to expect them, ready to lean more heavily into God in those instances, braced and prepared to have that “never give up” attitude.
Chapter 8–Leading Men
1. What do you love most about leading or working with men? What’s the most frustrating?
2. Where do you need to grow most in working with men: controlling your emotions; overcoming bossiness; conveying respect, honor, or trust; or some other area?
3. Is there another area of tension in working with men that we didn’t discuss in this chapter?
I think, looking back, God has always put me in situations that I had to work with men, though until I took my current position, I’ve never had to do so as consistently and directly as I do now.
I grew up with a brother. Some of my best friends were guys in high school. I hung out with my boyfriend (now husband) and his friends more in college than I did my friends. Now I raise three boys, so it’s not unusual to have 6-8 guys in my house on any given weekend. Lots of learning opportunity.
I love how most men take things at face-value. In so many ways they’re simpler than women. They typically say what they mean and take what I have to say at face-value. (We girls tend to read-between-the-lines too often). 🙂
But I nearly laughed out loud (p. 110) when Jenni said, “Many of the men I lead get bogged down by the details.” That is totally my experience. I’m a detailed person, that “implementer.” Someone throws out an idea, and I’m already a mile down the road seeing possible obstacles and challenges. The men…they just want to throw ideas out. Sometimes I recognize this (our differences), and I’m learning to find a way to bring in details when it’s necessary (because, let’s face it, some things need to be thought through, details and all) and to keep quiet when I recognize we’re in brainstorming mode or “flying at 100,000 feet.” Discerning the purpose of the conversation is half the battle, keeping that purpose in mind helps me know when to speak up and when to hold those detail questions in check.
I think Jenni and Sherry had a lot of great insight and suggestions about working with/leading men. I think most women have controlling tendencies and most of us are very emotion-based. I know for myself, keeping control of my emotions is key, and God has helped me come a long way in that department over the years. Where I am now, I think I learned the most from this chapter in the arena of how to speak respect, honor, and trust to people we work with. I have never directly managed men, except in volunteer roles. But I have had recently a huge challenge in supervising another woman, and I’d say she responded to each of these areas of respect, honor, and trust in big ways. Reading this chapter affirmed a lot of what I learned in that season of supervising this woman, so here’s hoping I’ve LEARNED these lessons and that I’ll carry them with me into my future of leading men and women.
I was really glad they addressed the “guy-girl thing” (p. 103). I have a very wise friend who, early on in my ministry, shared what she was teaching her mentor-ee about this very topic. Removing fear from the picture, it is very important to be wise in the where and when we meet with men one-on-one. I am pretty naive, so I know that was a God-thing for her to bring it up. I wouldn’t have thought twice about meeting a guy leader for lunch by myself…and it’s not that I don’t ever, but I do try to be very discerning about where I’m putting myself (and him). I would never want to give reason for anything improper to be suspected. So, I just try to be careful, discerning.
I’m sure we’ve all had such different experiences in this arena. Can’t wait to hear what you have to say!
Blessings for a great week! I pray God is pouring into you as His daughter, a leader for His kingdom, affirming your call, and giving you some insight and suggestions that will equip you for where you lead now…and for the future!