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“Chris, you have cancer.” Not quite the words I was expecting to hear when I landed in Sydney Australia for our annual Hillsong conference on June 27 this year.
It was 9am in Australia, and my doctor in the US had called to give me the results of the Thyroid biopsy I had done before boarding my flight to Australia.
The C word….
I had to choose to cover the problem with the promises of God.
I had to choose to silence the giant with the Word of God.
I had to choose to see beyond the wall to the victory on the other side.
I had to choose to walk by faith and not by sight.
I had to choose to combat fear with faith.
I had to choose to replace the facts with the truth.
I had to choose faith warriors to walk through the fire with me.
I had to choose to saturate myself in the Presence of God.
I had to choose to devour the promises of the Word of God.
I had to choose to silence fear, doubt, unbelief and negativity.
I had to choose to guard my confession.
I had to choose life and not death.
I did not know the size of the battle ahead, but I knew it was warfare.
Running the bridge is a lot like life in ministry. You have seasons that it may seem like you are running uphill. Those times can be difficult and force you to push yourself a little harder. There are also seasons that are easier, where you’re running downhill, coasting along with no problem. While the uphill seasons aren’t quite as enjoyable, they are necessary to get you to the point where you can hit your downhill stride.
You are not raising kids, you are raising adults.
The point is there is countdown to adulthood that is happening for toddlers and teenagers, and the clock is not going to stop. The real question is what kind of adults are you raising? That question should motivate us to start relating to our kids with an end in mind.
Here’s a profound thought:
If you want your children to become responsible adults, then give them responsibilities now. I’m sure that may seem like an over-simplistic cliché, but there is a tendency for many of us to over-parent and over-lead. Have you ever heard that some trees cast such a large shadow that nothing else can grow around them? Here are a few ways to guarantee your kids will not grow up to be responsible adults….
Brace yourself. Distractions and interruptions are coming and they don’t care about your ambition or goals. Right now, as you read this more emails, texts, notifications, and “emergencies” are getting ready to test you.
How well you handle distractions will greatly determine how successful you will be.
Anyone and everyone, anything and everything, will get in your way. You must be able to effectively minimize and remove distractions and interruptions.
Take a moment and think about how many hours a week you watch TV. How many minutes (or hours!) you spend each day on the internet doing things that aren’t work related. Youtube, news, social media, email, phone, and so on are all weapons of mass procrastination.
The Dead Battery Day – I sleep with the Pastor – Lori Wilhite
Wednesday morning. 6:45am. Last day of school. Finals week.
I’m not much of a morning person. At all. So, as usual I was running late to get my daughter to the carpool drop off. My husband had left at5:30 on an early morning flight driving himself to the airport since I really do not do mornings. The kids and I were on our own as I hustled them out to the car with backpacks and final test reminders.
We jumped in the car and turned the key. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Seriously?! A dead battery? Today … of all days?!
I sat in the driver’s seat frozen. Not because of the dead battery, I’d accidentally left the lights on. I deserved that dead battery. I was frozen because it occurred to me that I didn’t have a 6:45am friend in town. You know what I mean? The kind of friend who will wake up to the buzzing of their cell phone on their nightstand at 6:45am, see that it is you, answer their phone, and come running to help. I didn’t have one of those. I didn’t have a 6:45am kind of friend. And I was strangely suddenly overwhelmed by the most oppressive sense of isolation that I’ve felt in years.
Creativity works in mysterious and often paradoxical ways. Creative thinking is a stable, defining characteristic in some personalities, but it may also change based on situation and context. Inspiration and ideas often arise seemingly out of nowhere and then fail to show up when we most need them, and creative thinking requires complex cognition yet is completely distinct from the thinking process.
Neuroscience paints a complicated picture of creativity. As scientists now understand it, creativity is far more complex than the right-left brain distinction would have us think (the theory being that left brain = rational and analytical, right brain = creative and emotional). In fact, creativity is thought to involve a number of cognitive processes, neural pathways and emotions, and we still don’t have the full picture of how the imaginative mind works.
Ambition is complicated. When related to material things it sounds like greed, so we often take the idea of “bigger and more” in our lives and boil it all down to sin. We sit in the back like my friend Jamie, who aches to dream, but says, “It always seems easier to sit on the back row and kill my dreams than to fight the sin that may be attached to those dreams.”
We are afraid of big dreams because we are afraid of ourselves.
We are afraid of greatness because we are afraid of our arrogance.
And yet Jesus said of us, “Whoever believes in me . . . they will do even greater things than these” (John 14:12). It almost sounds blasphemous to do even greater things. We rarely say it, but when we start to have hints of great thoughts or visions, we often quickly dismiss them, afraid that we may be vain. Arrogant. Prideful. Or worse, simply that we would appear prideful.
I fight these wars in my soul nearly every day. For so long I just sat in the back, my dreams spilling out on the floor. I found myself over a year ago with a giant in the world of ministry, with a big vision (IF:Gathering) growing in my heart, I knew exactly what I wanted to ask: “How do you know if a vision is from God?”
She looked down, and then very directly and simply said, “At some point you look at the motives of your heart, and if they are for God, then just do it.”
It was simple and difficult all at the same time, because a convoluted mixture of motives undergirds every pursuit in life.
The key to a healthy marriage and ministry is to constantly ask and evaluate these three questions.
1. What is my capacity? What is my husband’s capacity?
According to Webster Dictionary, the definition of capacity is: the ability to do something : a mental, emotional, or physical ability
It’s important for you to have a realistic view of the amount of leadership responsibility you can handle in ministry and still engage mentally, emotionally, physically (and I would add spiritually) with your husband and kids. When a couple in ministry are both high capacity leaders, without knowing their capacity can cause burnout. Couples who have very different capacities unknowingly make one another feel defeated for what they did or didn’t accomplish. Knowing each other’s capacity allows you to set-up healthy rhythms of investment in each other and in ministry.
2. What season of life am I in?
3. What are my gifts and passions? What do I feel called to in this season of life?
So here’s what I do during the funk:
1. I get some rest. I literally sleep as much as possible. The real problem isn’t that nothing in life matters, the real problem is my brain, which is a muscle, is fatigued and not functioning very well.
2. I don’t work. I give myself at least one, if not two days in which I don’t work. That’s a tough one for me because I get great joy out of my work. But when the brain needs rest, the brain needs rest.
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Have you ever had one of those moments when you throw your hands up, write your resignation letter in your head and decide that you are just done? Have you ever looked at the magnitude of what God has called you to be and what He’s asked you to do and felt ill equipped, unprepared, and completely unqualified? Have you ever asked, “Why did you even choose me, God?”
You are NOT alone! One of the greatest leaders in the Bible had those same thoughts. Remember Moses? The man who led the children of Israel out of slavery; The great leader who performed miracles time and time again; the guy who spoke face to face with God?
Long before he stood at the Red Sea, parting the waters while his entire nation crossed safely before the waves all came crashing down on their enemies, he was working as a shepherd out in the desert. From the midst of a burning bush God spoke and laid out a plan to bring freedom to an entire nation. God also said Moses was going to be the one to lead the people to the Promised Land.
When I am in a conflict with someone, my mind swirls and it’s hard to find a firm place to stand. I vacillate between believing terrible things about myself, and believing terrible things about the other person. I rehearse tragic conversations in my mind, and I can’t seem to stop. When I’m in a conflict with someone, it tends to occupy every square inch of empty real estate in my mind, and it’s exhausting.
Imagine yourself as a circle, where the edges are the fixed boundaries that define your space. Imagine the person with whom you are in conflict the same way, a circle with fixed boundaries that define their space. Now, map out the two circles on a sheet of paper, in a way that demonstrates how you are interacting with that person. Are the two circles on opposite sides of the paper? Are they overlapping? Are they right next to each other?
You Talk To Yourself – Paul David Tripp
No one is more influential in your life than you are, because no one talks to you as much as you talk to yourself.
People laugh at that statement, but I’m really quite serious. You’re in an unending, incredibly important conversation with your soul every moment of every day.
You interpret, organize, and analyze what’s going on inside and outside of you. You talk to yourself about the past, you talk to yourself about the future, and you talk to yourself about what you’re experiencing in the present.
Obviously, this is an internal conversation – if you had this conversation aloud they would probably put you into a ward! But that’s why it’s so dangerous – you often don’t even realize that you’re saying things to yourself. But you are. You’re saying things to you that will shape your desires, actions, and theology.
1. Community– can’t be isolated. Friends and people you can do life with are paramount. Surround yourself with friends and team members who aren’t impressed by you.
2. Credibility– you must be believable. And a leader who is trustworthy. Above reproach and constant integrity. If you say you’ll get it done, you will. Your word is your bond.
3. Hunger– leaders are learners. And always want to get better. Constant posture of improvement.
4. Hope– vision for tomorrow. A belief that tomorrow will be better than today. And constant encouragement to those around them, giving them hope to tackle what’s in front of them.
5. Self- awareness– know who you truly are. And lead from that authenticity. Do all you can to understand the true you.
Managing your time well is essential for productive leadership. Here are four tips to help you grow and make the most of your time.
3. SET PRIORITIES
4. SAVE SPACE
Leading and Loving It is passionate about providing relevant resources for pastors’ wives and women in ministry and leadership. While many women feel overwhelmed, inadequate, and unprepared, we believe that you can thrive – loving life and ministry. It’s our desire that you would feel confident as you embrace your calling.
Do you struggle to find joy in your ministry role? Do you find yourself discouraged and wonder how you got here? Are you trying to pour into others while running on empty? Whether you are partnering with your husband in his calling or serving in your own leadership role, being a woman in ministry is a huge blessing. But it is also filled with challenges that can threaten to steal the joy found serving in ministry. We get a front-row seat watching God completely transform people’s lives, and then can be so wounded when those same people turn to us and hurl words of criticism. We are surrounded by people, yet locked away in loneliness and isolation. While serving as mentors, counsellors, advisors, and even cheerleaders, we attempt to find balance in our schedules and lives.
This months Leading and Loving It – JustONE conference – was about navigating relationships – in particular friendships. the sessions were insightful, encouraging, challenging and fun and i love love love the chats with Lori, Brandi, Lisa and Mardia between “main speakers” – i love how real and raw and funny they are! they show a better way to do life with people, not just through their words but through their lives. so appreciate them!
below are my notes from the sessions:
I am buzzing with excitement and expectation – next week my Leading and Loving It ConnectLIVE group begins!
Leading and Loving It is a fantastic ministry that encourages and inspires (and challenges) women in ministry – be it pastors wives, mission wives, kids pastors, youth pastors, whatevers (like me!) – through their awesome blog, through web conferences and i think most importantly, through relationships.
“When women in leadership join arms and hearts together, there is no limit to what God can do through prayer, personal experience and mutual purpose!” L&LI
Leading and Loving It is passionate about providing relevant resources for pastors’ wives and women in ministry and leadership. While many women feel overwhelmed, inadequate, and unprepared, we believe that you can thrive – loving life and ministry. It’s our desire that you would feel confident as you embrace your calling. Because of this desire, we are committed to providing resources that equip, encourage, and challenge you. // from L&LI EQUIP
Over the past year i have been blessed to be part of a ConnectLIVE group (formerly known as Virtual Community Group VCG) which has so blessed me and stirred me to step out and step up. Each month we would meet online – me in summer, them in winter, me in the day time, them at night, me on tomorrow, them on today – oh how time zones are funny – and it was one of the highlights of that month. sometimes exactly what i needed to hear was said in that group. what i needed to say and share was said and shared to that group. it was just so wonderful also knowing that whatever i was facing that i could be real and raw if i needed to be, and that i could shout out for prayer and know they would pray.
Our awesome VCG leader Liz Sarno has stepped forward in her other adventures with Relevant Church and so this year i’ll be taking on the challenge and blessing of hosting my own group. i have 4 others from the previous group staying with me and a whole bunch of new awesome women!
The ConnectLIVE groups are made of up to 12 women that meet once per month via Google+ Hangouts. We connect to support, equip and cheer each other on in our various ministry roles.
I confess I’m really nervous but also really excited – i know that God has brought this specific group of women together “for such a time as this” and despite distance and demographics and dreams we all have one passion, to know Jesus and to make Him known! I know we’ll laugh together, maybe cry and definitely pray and talk ALOT! There is something about getting a group of women with a common heart together, who can relate to each other, and “get it” that creates community. and community gives courage and compassion to live out the call of God on the good and not so good days.
If you’re a women in ministry i encourage you – check them out – join a group – watch the JUSTONE Conferences – be encouraged and inspired to live out who God has called you and wired you and empowered you to be!
for more info on my ConnectLIVE group see HERE:
Where are you from: I’ve lived here in Auckland (our countries largest city), New Zealand but spent my childhood/teens moving around the country, from the tip of the south in a rural town to the top of the north. New Zealand has a population of about 4 million people, 1.5 million of them living in Auckland. The LOTR was shot here in New Zealand and it is stunningly beautiful!
Where do you live now? Auckland, New Zealand