just Lead! Week Three

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!

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.

7 thoughts on “just Lead! Week Three

  1. This was a great week for me with this study. I learned more about Nehemiah who had a vision and saw it through to completion. I learned from a napkin to wait for God, do my homework, I am not alone and Never Give Up. What great word of encouragement. From Nehemiah to Winston Churchill, I found that it is ok to dream. and that I should not ever give up on my dreams. God has shown me that I have a voice and can make a difference in peoples lives. I won’t lie and tell you that I am not scared but I am also excited and thrilled about my new opportunities. As for working with men well I must confess I work in a predominately female profession and the bible study I am going to lead will be a women’s bible study so again God has blessed me. With the end of this study coming soon, I am already beginning to think about what is next….Keep dreaming.

  2. These 3 chapters were filled with so much information and its exciting to try and take it all in and so how to implement it!

    Chapter 6: Make Up Your Mind Already

    There have been several Over-whelming leadership roles that I have had; 2 being President of different organizations. Being a rule follower it can be difficult when also being a pleaser to have to make very unpopular decisions and in one organization it involved getting the organization back on track to perform its intended purpose! WOW was that not very popular or fun!
    I love the Esther analogy “For such a time as this!” (clean up a mess and redirect the mission statement)! A lot of prayer was required to keep from falling apart and dealing with the fallout!

    I don’t get talked into these positions very easily and am known for trying to avoid them (especially conflict heavy) if at all possible. Usually hoping someone else will step up to the plate. I prefer to spend a lot of time listening and gathering information (at times for 2 or 3 years) before accepting the challenge! Probably I’m hoping I can see the ending before diving into the situation! If I’m going to make big changes that involve unpopular decisions I would love to know in advance that it will be successful!!! Doesn’t always work that way as we all know.

    Love the Formula:
    Identify; Investigate, study, understand; seek trustworthy imput; Pray seriously; and expedite the decision!

    I have definitely accepted for better or worse some leadership positions and for various reasons declined others. Prayer over whether to accept or decline has always proven the decistion made was the path God had directed me to chose!

    Chapter 7: Go Big or Go Home

    Not dreaming too big for fear of failure still ties into wanting to be successful in all things I take on; please all those involved and finally being in control of the outcome! (Can I see that finish line??)

    Loved Nehemiah Story. In BSF we touched on him a little, but love how Sherry outlines so many of the lessons God has for us in Nehemiah’s story!

    The important points or take aways for ME:
    1) The strong stirring God puts on your heart
    2) Humble repentance so you can’t be prideful or arrogant
    3) Don’t step ahead; prayer first
    4) Keep QUIET until you’ve allowed God to work out the plan
    5) Once you share the plan: its about what God can do!
    6) Give the team the total picture and expectation. DON’T SUGAR COAT IT!
    7) Don’t QUIT, if you’re in God’s will; He won’t let you fail!!!

    Chapter 8: Leading Men

    Leading Men is a position that I have not yet dealt with totally. Women’s organizations, groups, etc have been where my leadership roles have taken me. Working for men though gives me pause to many memories and how so many of these points are relevent!

    1) Giving way to much information! (Being married to an attorney so often I get the: “Just give me the bullet points!”)
    2) Don’t be too emotional. I have definitely seen in so many situations that men don’t know what to do with that! (console us, be frustrated or seek an exit route)!
    3) He’s not one of the girls and their is definitely a “boys only club”!
    4) Men definitely need to feel honored, respected and trusted!

    If and when I am ever in a position to lead men this will definitely be a great resource if circumstances or uncomfortable issues arise!

  3. Chapter 6 responses to Questions
    Ch 6, Q#1:
    I think right now my indecision is in determining what God wants me to be doing; how He wants to use me in this season. I feel I’m floundering. Does he want me to be content in serving my family’s needs in this season of aging parents? Does he want me to lean into ministry and service at NC? I feel like I’m straddling two moving horses galloping down a track, trying to figure out which horse to jump onto. It’s definitely the issue on which I need to take the next step.
    Ch6, Q#2:
    I’m sure there are more recent examples, but the one that comes to mind is from 1986 when the economy in Okla was dreadful, the ‘oil bust’ years. My husband was unemployed and all his efforts in Okla were fruitless. Our decision was whether to go to Dallas or not, a gut wrenching decision for us. He had a job possibility and my job could get us relocated. I remember being at the end of myself. We couldn’t decide, the stress had built to a high level. We went to God in prayer and turned it over to Him. We could not do it on our own. He definitely led from that point, all we had to do was respond, be willing and not let the fear of leaving Okla stop us. As pieces fell into place, our path became clear.
    Ch6, Q#4:
    Although I can relate to each of the traps of indecision, I think impatience is the standout. It’s the waiting on God for clarity, direction and permission that is hard for me. So I guess it’s the waiting, period! I greatly admire those who take the time to wait on God. I let the tyranny of the urgent take over.
    Waiting has become a little easier for me as I’ve matured and seen examples of the value and fruitfulness of waiting on God. So as my process-oriented nature wants to surge ahead, I need to make Step 1: seek God; Step 2: Wait.

  4. Chapter 7 was the best for me so far, and I agree and relate with all your comments whole heatedly! As Kelly said, not dreaming too big for fear of failure, tying in with perfectionism and wanting to succeed in everything.
    There were a couple of things that just hit me like a 2 by 4. The whole discussion on stepping ahead of God and letting Him work in me first, was the biggest blow and so ME! In fact my years in the corporate world encouraged and rewarded exactly the opposite – decisiveness, action driven performance. Isn’t that so like the world to be in opposition to God’s way? A comment in Debbie’s story was a real ah ah moment. Her comment on page 102 was an innocent one, “.. I found that there were so many women who attended our church for years and had been looking for an opportunity to serve, but no one had opened the door with a personal invitation.” This sounded so familiar! It happens all the time at NC. But in reading Debbie’s story I realized that perhaps I am to be God’s confirmation for the women that I ask to serve. This was the ah ah for me. Rather than grumbling that they should respond to God’s urging on their own, perhaps my asking is God’s confirmation to them. Wow! That really changes my perspective on my least favorite task.

    Ch 7. Q#3:
    I think we do have an environment at NC that encourages dreaming big and responding to God’s leadings. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t procedures and approvals to go through. But the attitude from the top is – YES, if God provides the opportunity, the people and resources, DO IT!

  5. First, I am remiss in not being able to post last week. I was swamped. But it was a very convicting lesson, as I fear many things, I have to admit that I have am always feeling inadequate and yet I have an ego and never want to come across as NOT knowing something. I can say, “I don’t know but I will find out for you,” but that is hard for me, so, yes, it hit a nerve with me. The best quote I have heard recently is “Some of our best learning comes from our experience with failure.” I think it was Churchill. Filtering through prayer and Keeping the focus were helpful suggestions for me. Now, on to this week.
    Chapter 6: I love protocols, rules, agenda’s, syllabi and formulas! They are concise, direct and easy to follow. So, I liked the 5 step formula 1:Identify 2. Investigate, 3. Seek 4. PRAY and 5. Decide. I also like all the Why and What questions. Why would I, wouldn’t I, don’t I etc. It reminds me of the acronym for THINK (is it true? Helpful?Inspiring?Necessary? Kind? It also reminds me of a talk I heard recently to not think “what would Jesus do?” but “what would Jesus WANT ME to do?”I would say the things that most often impair my decision making is 1. Impatience, Control and Fatigue. “Let’s get’er done!” is often my motto and waiting or further discernment might be beneficial. Other times I get so frustrated with how long corporate bureaucracy draws things out that I am just tired of the whole process. I get to a point where I get an “I don’t even care- just do it!” attitude. Not very leader like, I know.
    Chapter 7: I always struggle with “thinking big” topic. I have two people who I bounce ideas off that are Negative Nellies. I get excited about something and they- rightfully so in many instances-think of all the reasons why is is NOT a good idea or all the draw backs. While that is good for someone like me who is a little impulsive and ADD (self described!) It is also very discouraging. When these folks actually say, “That WOULD be a good idea!” I feel empowered to push forward! Again, give me a formula to follow like the Napkin method and I will rely on that wisdom frequently! 1. WAiT, 2. Do the Homework (research), 3. Employ HELP 4. NEVER give up ! Love it, Love it, Love it! We recently went to administration with an idea that would require a purchase of a $600 piece of equipement which we knew was not in the budget. Because we did the research and never gave up, we got it. Now, we are working on a $55,000 purchase. It is taking A LOT more persuasion but we are getting closer and are pushing for the whole package including education for ALL the staff which will add at least $12,000 to that. This may not sound like much to those in business with millions of dollars in budgets, but our little department has essentially $0 for budget, so this is HUGE for us. In my 28 years of practice this is the most I have ever asked for at one time. Scary, but exciting. I work in an environment that encourages Big thinking as long as it is with in the budget or would quickly improve productivity!
    Chapter 7: Working with men has always been a part of my job. I have tech’s who are males and I work with physicians who are males. My experience is that their outlook is often more “objective” where I am more emotional in my perspective. It is a different language, but if we can come together, it is good. I am in a bit of a different position in that we have men and women working side by side, all for the main purpose of helping the same patient. I am not saying there are not egos, but the main focus is the same. I have never been a “ladder climber” seeking leadership positions, but when a task is given to me I want to do it well and don’t shy away no matter if it comes from a female or a male. It did strike me when she said, “Do not apologize” for being called to leadership. I remember playing softball and if i made a error in practice I would say “i’m sorry!” My coach told me to ” Stop apologizing! Own it and move on!” That has stuck with me. I need to own it and use it to the best of my ability and quit apologizing for trying to be organized, a little OCD about projects, that is how God made me!
    Great lessons these past couple weeks!

  6. I always struggle with how to answer questions that require personal reflection, but here goes.

    Chapter 6 – I have always struggled with indecision about a lot of things in my life, but especially those decisions that will affect others as well as myself. I have been working on that though & I do feel like I have gotten better at making decisions. I think part of my problem stems from being afraid to step out of my comfort zone & take the next step that God wants me to take. I an a big introvert, but I truly believe that God has given me the gift of teaching & have sensed that God has called me to help others with their financial situations through FPU & to lead in-depth Bible studies using the inductive Bible study method. My classes have not exploded & I have always taken the tact that as long as I am touching one person it’s all worth it. I often think though that I am taking the easy road & not truly listening to God’s instructions on how to grow the ministries I am trying to lead. As Jenni stated, “Good decision making is an overflow of a heart that is n tune with God” I more often than not don’t feel as in tune with God as I should be, especially when it comes to my leadership roles. I frequently pray for God to equip me with what I need to be an effective leader, but I’m not so sure that I listen the way I should. The story of Esther is an excellent example for me to remember in that I definitely need to just trust that God will provide & take care of the details as long as I am willing to act on his commands & follow his leading .l also think that I sometimes don’t want to take the responsibility that I need to, that I want someone else to do things for me & so things don’t get done the way God wants them to get done. I need to learn to trust God more & be willing to step out of my comfort zone in order for God to work the way He wants to.

    Chapter 7 – This chapter really caught my attention. I think I have had the tiny heart syndrome a lot. I have had big dreams, but they never seem to go anywhere. I think I have always been a little afraid, or maybe at times a lot, about what others will think or say. I have trouble handling rejection. Nehemiah really spoke to me about dreaming big & stepping out in faith & gathering others along the way to help in the growing process. The napkin lesson spoke volumes “Wait for God”, “Do your homework”, ” Don’t do it alone”, & “Never give up”. I need to always remember those key points from Nehemiah, but the true challenge for me is following through with what God is asking me to do. I need to remember 2 Chronicles 20:17, “You will not need to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow and the Lord will be with you.” I also think Sherri was talking to me when she made the comment, “I found there were so many women who had attended our church for years and had been looking for an opportunity to serve, but no one had opened the door with a personal invitation.” I know AC often tells us we need to invite people, but I have never been very good at that. So maybe God is really telling me I need to step out of my comfort zone & with His help start inviting people. I need to let my dreams grow bigger & bigger with God & have the faith to allow Him to work through me for His kingdom.

    Chapter 8 – I think this chapter has a lot of wise information in it. I have never really been in a leadership role of any sort where I have lead men. I know I did think of my husband & the fact that I am a very detailed person, but all he ever wants are the facts & in as short a description as possible. He gets frustrated with me sometimes, so I have had to work on changing the way I communicate with him & I have learned to respect & honor his responses to my interactions. I will definitely keep in mind the information from this chapter for any future interactions I may have with men in a working situation.

  7. Ladies, I have been incredibly blessed by your candid responses this week!! I’m so glad Jenni and Sherry wrote this kind of book…for such a time as this. I can tell from your comments that I’m not the only one being stretched and inspired by what we’re reading. It’s possible that the biggest challenge we have after reading all this is TO DO something with what we’ve learned. Maybe we make a list of everything we feel challenged or called to do from this book then pray for discernment for that the next step is. We cant do everything all at once…though I’m tempted to try…so whats the next step, Lord?

    I just finished reading this week’s chapters…done with the book. Sniff sniff. The last chapter has my mind reeling (and my stomach dancing) with thoughts and ideas. I’d love to hear what chapter has challenged you the most. What are some of your next steps?

    I’d also love for us to get together…with so many of us working, is there an evening or Saturday that might work in September? Think about these things. Finish the book. And meet you back here in a few days.

    Love you all!! SJ

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