Just Lead! Week Two

KD – Week 2 was filled with great information, but first I have to say I knew I had lots in common with Jenni! The sport she loves; tennis.  My game of choice to play too!  :)!

KD – Sherry’s ideas and thoughts on insecurity I definitely agree with; how I react to it makes all the difference.  Healthy criticism given with love can be very helpful.  Doing my laundry sorting on whether comments are given in love or mean-spirited was a great way to approach it : “encouragement”, “wisdom” or “discard”.  Unsure, go “up”! One verse, Phil. 4:8 is a great resource for defining criticism thrown towards me. (And often I need to “think on these things!”)

KD – Criticism towards my performance in a leadership position is another area all together.  Often I absorb every criticism and agonize over it.  I question whether I should even be in the position in the first place and can often fall into the fear of failure and let it paralyze me!  One thing though that Priscilla Shirer’s study on Gideon taught me was even in leadership position it’s not about me!  God uses our weaknesses, insecurities and fears to accomplish His purpose.  It is for His glory, not my recognition or accolade.  So discerning the criticism through prayer and wise council will help me to recognize that this is part of His plan and not about me!  Don’t allow the enemy to use my insecurities as a distraction to get me off track!

KD – Then there’s that ugly word again; PRIDE!  It always keeps rearing its ugly head.  Talk about a powerful tool of the enemy.  Even when I think I’m not being prideful; is that prideful?  It can appear in so many ways that it can even suck you in before you even recognize it! Pride shows up in so many lies.  I love one of Jenni’s examples of “our need to be needed”; which in reality can rob us of the joy of seeing others’ successes.  We are even so caught up with successes that we can often not be happy for even others’ children’s successes.  Such a competitive world!

What a beautiful reminder that with humility comes wisdom.  I love the thought that it is difficult for arrogance or pride to get a hold of us or consume our heart if we are constantly looking for ways to learn or improve in every situation.  What a great lesson to learn as young as possible!  (maybe it’s not too late for me!)  I definitely need to take her advice and read more and probably attend more conferences!  I know that God has so much to teach me through His word, wise leaders and mentors and books written by wise people!  I’ll try and persevere!!!

Just Lead! Week Two

Last week we talked a lot about how leadership is in our blood and considered who would be or are our encouragers and challengers.  We also talked about how fear can keep us from doing and leading as God would have us…that we need to take that fear UP to God for perspective and peace.

This week we’ll look at Chapters 3, 4, & 5 — we’ll talk about insecurity, criticism, and pride. Oh my.  

If you haven’t created an account as contributor, try to do so this week so that your comments aren’t limited in length.  And don’t forget — keep your responses as general as possible since this is an open blog.  I hope you’re being as transparent as possible with yourself and us within those bounds!!

I’m going to come at responding a bit differently this week, hoping that you’ll fill in the gaps with your responses.  I’ll list every question at the end of each chapter and do one personal response either on one particular question or a conglomeration of them. Here we go!

Chapter 3 – The Monster You Are Avoiding

1. Are there voices in your life that drain your security tank? How do you overcome their influence?

2. In her story, Tammy mentioned that insecurity tends to show up when she’s facing an opportunity to grow. When does insecurity rear its head most often in your life?

3. What are the daily routines that you’ve put into place that help you overcome insecurity?

SJ-Insecurity isn’t my biggest issue, but when it comes up I JUST HATE IT. Seems like it creeps in for me is when my environment is foreign/unusual. Just this past Christmas I attended my husband’s company party with him and have never felt so under-dressed in my life. I wanted to leave so badly, but had to swallow that insecurity and stick it out (which is good for me).  I have worn that same outfit in another setting and felt most confident.  Crazy. I chide myself for that weakness of wanting to “please man” instead of just focusing on pleasing God.  

Besides surroundings, I’d say those seasons of exhaustion and high stress are snares for my insecurity as well.  Of course, if I’m feeling stress to begin with, I’m not where I need to be spiritually. Vicious cycle.

LOVED her analogy of “mental piles,” sorting according to encouragement, wisdom, and discard.  Super! And for me (p. 39) this would work because my big downfall is mentally rehashing things, so to figure out how to ponder things LESS is a victory.

Chapter 4 – You’re Not Doing It Right

1. Do you have a tendency to take criticism personally? When do you feel most vulnerable (in your leadership)?

2. Do you fear rejection or failure?

3. What steps can you take to begin to process criticism in a healthy way?

SJ-A much bigger issue for me is taking criticism personally.  I’m a perfectionist, so I naturally avoid failure…though I’m convinced we learn the most from our mistakes. The pattern I seem to follow is that when I’m prepared for criticism, expecting it, I handle it as I should, constructively.  But when I’m in that tired place and criticism comes out of the blue, I turn to a puddle. That mental rehash thing happens, reliving the scene over and over.

SO, I really liked her suggestions to take the focus off myself then remember what is true (p. 53)…then of course PRAY, asking God to focus my mind and heart (p. 55).  And in God-fashion, He gave me the opportunity to put this in practice last week.  Just as I was starting to feel defensive, these very words popped in my head, so I said a quick prayer, asking God to show me what truth there was in what was being said.  I immediately quit feeling defensive and our conversation became much more constructive. HUH.

Chapter 5 – Growing Pains

1. How is pride holding you back from leading effectively?

2. What is the greatest lie that pride repeatedly tries to tell you?

3. What truth do you need to remember to confront that lie?

4. What steps can you take on your journey to seek wisdom?

SJ-Oh, pride. That ugly, ugly thing called pride. Here’s some irony from the inner-workings of my mind. I’ve had seasons where I’ve prided myself for being so humble. (quit laughing!) High school is my most vivid memory.  Of course, at that age, we think we know everything anyway. Must have stayed there in some fashion because it was in Beth Moore’s Breaking Free that I had my BIG AH-HA about pride. It has many faces and shades…and I had (have) a lot of it. 

Motive was mentioned in this lesson that I recall, but it’s when I check my internal motive that God helps me gauge my pride-level. Proverbs 16:2, 1 Corinthians 4:5, and James 4:5 all talk to motive in things we say, do, ask for, want, etc. I frequently ask God to reveal my motive…and His revelations are very humbling!

Her section on mentoring spoke volumes to me. I need to re-read that part many times so that it soaks in my head.  The cool thing is…I have mentors in my life right now, though these relationships were never formalized and the women aren’t the wise, “old” women who know-all and see-all (I visualize that “shaman” in a tent that you can go to for wisdom. I know, they don’t exist).  They’re women like me who also need mentoring and encouragement and accountability.

I couldn’t agree more about making the most of every learning opportunity. I’m not a voracious reader of non-fiction type books (I love story), but God is pushing me past my stubbornness to more and more books like this one to show me there is a lot to learn. And, like Jenni, I’m a conference junkie. Something about being with speakers “in person” that inspires me and pushes me to learn. And I loved the “change of place + change of pace = change of perspective” (p. 69).  There is a lot of truth to that. I can get so bogged down in my to-do’s that I need those changes to get that new perspective.

“A heart bent toward continuous growth is one marked by humility.” (p. 70) Amen!


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!


Just Lead! Schedule

For our first study, we will read and discuss Sherry Surratt & Jenni Catron’s book, Just Lead: A No Whining, No Complaining, Non Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church.  I’ll make a post at the beginning of each week with comments and questions, then you chime in with your thoughts.  Here’s our schedule:

For Monday, August 12th — pages 1-34 (read thru Chapter 2)

For Monday, August 19th — pages 35-70 (thru Chapter 5)

For Monday, August 26th — pages 71-114 (thru Chapter 8)

For Tuesday, September 3rd — pages 115-158 (finish the book)

Click the FOLLOW button in the margin to sign up to get automatic emails when a new post is made…then you don’t have to remember to check in!

See you here next week!


Getting Started

Welcome to Sisters in Study, a place for women to gather around a theme, book, or topic for discussion.  Life can take over, time can monopolize, family/career become our focus…when really all God wants from us is US!  Sisters in Study invites you to make God the #1 priority in your life.  How do we put Him on the throne of our lives? By taking time daily to sit at His feet, look at His Word, and listen for His voice.  As women, we often need that fellowship of believers to encourage us in that endeavor. Let’s pull our chairs together, determined to discover what He’s calling us to as sisters in study.