Thanks, But I’m Not Passing My Baton, I’ll Carry It

For years now I have struggled with hearing statements like, “The older generation should pass the baton to the younger generation” or “I see a generation rising to take their place.”  Now some might argue that there is nothing wrong with these statements, but I think there is: God never asks us to stop running our race! And when we use the phrase “pass your baton” to imply that somehow God is finished with using us, we have done a disservice to each other.

I’m not done running my race and neither are you, so carry your baton and run your race!

I’ve often shared with people how I feel the best years of my life are yet to come. And for those wondering how old I am, I’ll be 49 in November.

So what if we took the “pass the baton” language and starting committing ourselves to aligning together where we can?  To running with each other when we can? To championing for the picking up of another’s baton where we can? To serving together where we can? To distributing levels of responsibility where we can? To creating space for others where we can?

We can do that! But we should never stop living for Jesus and saying “yes” to the things we’ve been called to do!

This past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at the 19th annual Women’s Journey of Faith Conference. I am newer to the speaker platform, and I had the privilege of sharing the stage with women such as Sheila Walsh, Tressa Lemky, and Moira Brown. And you know what I gleaned from observing them, praying with them, and laughing with them? I learned this: They are carrying their baton until Jesus takes them home!

You see I think your baton is your call to follow Jesus and to let your good deeds be shown so others may come to know Jesus. There are purposes and plans for your life that Jesus has prepared in advance for you to do – it’s your baton. So can I plead with you to recognize that your life is worth living!  Can I implore you to own the truth that your journey matters? Can I invite you to live deliberately by inviting you to commit yourself to stewarding wisely the opportunities you’re given? You need to engage in living as long as your living!

I felt nervous, excited, and empowered to be part of the speakers at the WJOF 2018 Conference. The Spirit affirmed over and over that my journey is only beginning.

So, friends, I’m not passing my baton but am committed to carrying it, are you committed to carrying yours?

Believing you matter and your life has a purpose.

Carmen

p.s. I love that the WJOF of faith team could capture these photos!

Board Development: What Is It and Who Is Responsible For It?

Morning!

Last night I attended a Town Hall meeting for a board I currently serve on. From those Town Halls, I find that I can always learn something from others and I value the platform whereby people can share their thoughts, ideas and dreams. And although I may offer some responses to questions in the group, it is not my teaching /discussion platform, so I am mindful to not use it in that way most of the time. Instead, I use my blog to share thoughts on board governance because it is an area that I have a passion for.

In last night’s discussion there was a suggestion that a board director should not take take on the responsibility of doing board development. Now granted I may have misunderstood what they were saying, and if I did, then that’s okay too, a good blog post still arose! But as I went to bed thinking about some of the discussion around that suggestion and then woke up thinking about it again, I new blogging about that as part of the Board Series was essential to me. It’s my way of sharing the journey and sharing what I’ve learned in my studies. The goal? Hopes that those searching for some answers can glean from the resources provided here.

In part it’s true, a board director should not take on the responsibility of board development, especially if it’s an area they are not competent in or have been asked by the board to do so. BUT, if a board director has growing competencies in board development, then absolutely utilize that person! It’s a unique strength they bring to the board. So what is board development, this article captures a few things:

“Board development is a cycle that includes:

  • Recruiting board members
  • Holding elections
  • Providing ongoing support and recognition
  • Providing board orientation and training
  • Succession planning”

The above is the board’s responsibility! Now whether they do all that work or appoint a director to work with a development team (the best practice and most productive sencario), it will always remain part of the board’s job to do board development.  And any individual board member who invests deeply in learning in an area usually does so because they are passionate about that subject matter. It is a joy for any leader to serve in their areas of passion. When you have directors on a board who have strengths in areas that are board areas of responsibility, create space for that, drawing from the well of expertise or experience. Create pathways of learning for the board. I love learning from others who have strengths in areas I don’t.

Also, and this cannot be stressed enough, Board Development is one of the primary responsibilities of the whole board. Additionally, a Board Development Team should be formed and be led by a competent board member. It cannot and should not be neglected. Anyone who has ever served on a board in any capacity has witnessed what happens when the board fails to pay attention to their development piece.

Boards need, as part of their regular rhythm, to stay focused on its development. It’s too easy to lose their Why for existance. It’s too easy to wait until last minute to do a search for competent board members. It’s too easy to not know how a board should behave. It’s too easy to not attend to board business when a board doesn’t understand their role. It’s too easy to neglect your guiding documents. It’s too easy to allow personal agendas to overtake the board when the board lacks clarity on why there are there.

Board Development must be prioritized by the board – always! If it is a governance board, it should show up on every. single.regular agenda.  And, every priority a board has must be managed through by someone. You need someone to give leadership to that particular area, so why not choose or recruite a the person who is passionate and qualified? When leaders show up in the room, they want to bring their absolute best to the team.

Board development, when done right, helps board thrive and become all they can be. A healthy board means a healthy organization.

For further reading on board development and what it is, see the articles linked below:

 

Happy learning everyone!

*Please note: I use director and board member interchangeably.

Board Series: Board Identity – The Most Important Question to Get Clarity On.

This is going to be a brief, but powerful post – at least that’s the goal! Right now I have the privilege of being on an strategic journey of learning tools to help boards refocus, get unstuck, or get back on track.

Sometimes boards get so derailed that they need to pause and have an intentional, carefully attended to, focussed restart. Sometimes we’ve no idea how far we’re off track until we invite other external experts in to do a scan and review, reporting back to the board their findings.

If you’re a board member, don’t ever shy away from recommending an external review. If you’re on a board and you have the opportunity to shape the board development process, make an external review part of your annual or bi-annual board health process. Find ways to monitor the health of the board – it’s vital to productivity and board success.

I serve primarily in Christian contexts so you’ll hear me speak from that identity. As a Christian board, here is the most important question you need to ask yourselves: What do we want our Christian board identity to be? 1 Make sure to leave ample time for a board to together discuss this, come up with a board identity statement.

This questions is foundational and should be answered by the collective board. A board, though comprised of individuals, is an entity. Answering the ‘we’ question influences the who, what, why, when, and how.

Powerful!  Get it clear and then build upon that foundation, referencing it as often as needed to stay focussed and healthy.

If you have a varation on the above question or are willing to share a questions process you took a board through to help them get clarity around this question, I’d like to hear it! Shoot me an email at carmen@leadwomen.ca.

Have an amazing day!

Carmen

p.s. If you’re interested in other posts in the Board Series, here they are:

Board Series: The Role of the Assistant to the Board

Board Series: The Director’s Voice, What Not to Do 

Why Good Governance is Essential and Why Who You Choose as a Chair Matters

Board Series: What Do Governing Boards Do? 

Board Series: Considering Being a Board Member? Things You Should Consider

 

 

 

 

‘You’re Destined for Great Things’, What It’s Not

Perhaps like me you’ve been told “You’re Destined for Great Things” and you’ve struggled to know what that means.

Today’s blog is a short reflection on what that phrase doesn’t mean. And I’m sharing it with you today because I felt God’s Spirit this morning strongly reminding me not to be fooled or led astray by seeking after ungodly things. I was invited once again to not measure my life by the world’s standards of success. And to guard against hypocrisy in my life.

To be destined for great things should not – or ever be!- synonymous with popularity, platforms, wealth, a public ministry, material possessions, positional power, or anything which sets you up to bring honor to yourself or allows you to rely solely on your own strength or possessions.

As leaders, we do people a disservice if we lead them to believe that greatness is about making them popular, wealthy, or achieving a place of positional authority. It’s.so.not.about.that.

I’m convinced that great things, with I actually associate with living a fruitful life, will look different for all of us. True great things are birthed in and through loving God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loving others as ourselves. Every life matters!

Keep your focus on Jesus’ invitation for your life. Love God and others deeply. Acknowledge Jesus’ goodness in your life and share him with others. Do this in ordinary time, on ordinary days, in ordinary places. You love an extraordinary God who loves you and all those who are either currently in your life or who you are yet to encounter in your day and journey.

Live each day in God’s presence. Seek and search for it daily. The greatest thing we have, the thing that matters above all else, is this: We are the forgiven, redeemed, loved sons and daughters of Almighty God. We have God’s Spirit now and will be with God for eternity. I can only imagine what eternity will be like!

Reflection Questions:

What do understand the statement “you’re destined for great things” to mean? What are the things that I am currently seeking after? Are there things the Spirit is reminding me of today that I need to let go of or change?

Wherever the Spirit takes you while your heart is being searched, go there, and seek to understand what God would say to you or ask of you this day.

Carmen

The Undistracted Martha

An important story with important truths is found in Luke 10: 38-42. I’ll include it below so you also can read and glean from it.

Luke 10:38–42 (NLT): Jesus Visits Martha and Mary

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.

39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.

40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details!

42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

I like Martha. I think she and I would have similar personality traits. Traits such as task-oriented, sometimes distracted, pursuer of excellence, and people oriented.

Jesus loved Martha (Jn 11.5). And He loved her enough to be gentle with her, to speak to her affectionately, and to remind her there are times to take intentional pauses. There are times, Jesus reminds Martha and us, that choosing to stop something good in order to pursue something better, matters. And it probably matter more than we realize!

That day in Martha’s home, Jesus extended an invitation – and permission! – for Martha to come sit at His feet and leave unimportant things behind. Jesus encouraged Martha to come and learn from Him. And though it doesn’t say this in the text, I wonder if wrapped up in Jesus’ invitation to Martha is this: Your soul needs ministering to, Martha. Come, and allow me to speak life, truth, hope, and love.

We don’t get to hear about the rest of Martha’s journey and how she continued to grow as a faithful disciple of Jesus. We don’t get to hear about her undistracted times, but I am sure she had them! We may catch glimpses of her here and there, but we don’t fully know how the encounter that day with Jesus may have transformed her. Did she sit? Did she take Jesus up on his invitation to learn and to be ministered to that day? The text doesn’t tell us, but I suspect she did!

As I think beyond the story at Martha’s house, I’m curious to know how often Martha recalled Jesus’ words then stopped what she was doing. I am curious to know her inner dialogue and how she weighed her choices. I wonder after Pentecost how often she called upon the Holy Spirit to remind her of all the things Jesus said and taught? I’m eager to know how she treasured her time at Jesus’ feet, the things she pondered in her heart, and what nuggets of truth she shared with others.

What captivates you about Martha’s interaction with Jesus? Are you a person who is easily distracted? Who needs those those loving nudges from Jesus? If so, do you hear Jesus’ invitation to discover the better thing? Do you hear His permission to choose to be undistracted? To come? To be present with Him?

Let’s today not miss the opportunity to be with Jesus. Choose intentional pausing and undistracted over mindless busy and distracted.

Saying “yes” to sitting,

The sometimes distracted Carmen.

Like Lambs Among Wolves

This morning, the devotional journal I am working my way through led me to Luke 10:1-16. What a powerful passage! I’d encourage you to go an read it, taking time after to prayerfully reflect and journal.

I wrote these words in my digital bullet journal.

Those words then led to this post because it’s so easy to allow our minds to take a trip down memory lane, recounting all the mean-spirited things people have said to us or about us. We live in a digital world, so no longer are things merely said in the coffee shop or in a handwritten letter. BUT – we don’t have to live in the hurt!

There are many things Jesus has taught me these past few years, especially as it relates to others and myself. Here listed, in no particular order, are a few of those things:

  • When people take to social media to trash another human being, it’s a reflection of them, not you. It can be veiled and masked in all sorts of ways, but if it’s meant to hurt others, you’ll know it when you read it. Discipline yourself not to read stuff that is harmful about you or others.
  • Not everyone will like us, and that’s okay. It’s not our job to people please, it’s our responsibility to be men and women of grace and truth. Jesus was. (Jn 1:14)
  • Have a group of people in your life who will tell you the truth and who will love you enough to do so. When you find those people, treasure them! (I think I say that often, but it’s vital to finishing our race well.)
  • Remember Jesus’ words, like lambs among wolves. I don’t know about you, but that leads me to believe that there harmful things headed our way. No one said this Christian journey would be easy. But here is a truth: We can choose how to steward our life. We can choose how we will handle hurtful things! And the even better news: Jesus is fully with us and able to carry our load, willing to give us HIS wisdom.
  • Our mission here on earth is not to change other people, it’s to love them. And we can love people enough to pray for them, leaving the results to God. We all are sinners. We all need God’s forgiveness and grace. We all need to be transformed. We all need God’s spirit to search our hearts and reveal what’s in there. (That’s a blog post for another day!)
  • Shaking the dust off our feet is allowed. It’s okay to NOT pursue relationship with certain people or people groups. At times we will be rejected when brining the Good News, but remember, it’s a rejection of Jesus, not you.
  • Don’t take things so personally! Get curious about your reaction to things. If you find yourself reacting poorly, figure out why and then deal with it. BUT, don’t let it shipwreck you! Oh my goodness, I can’t tell you how many times in the last 25 years that I shied away from doing something because of a single person’s hurtful words, what a waste! I don’t live there anymore and I am unwilling to allow hurtful words to stop me from fulfilling every single purpose that I was created for!

We are like lambs among wolves. Some may bite harder than others. Some may pursue harder than others. Some may gather a pack around around them. Whatever the case may be, Jesus warned us. And he not only warned us, he provided Himself to us. Let’s be reminded today that Jesus is our comforter and strength. Our shield and wisdom. Our warrior and friend.

Saying a prayer for all of you who’ve been on the receiving end of hurtful words and found themselves sinking as a result. May you rise strong in the strength of Christ. May Christ’s wisdom lead you and may his love be like healing balm to your soul. May the Spirit remind you of all the promises and truths found in scripture. May your heart and mind be refocused and reminded of the call of God, and may you find your feet on the path that’s been ordered of the Lord.

Reverend Carmen

Don’t Be Shady: You Were Meant to Shine

I preached today here in Saskatoon at my home church, Westside Pentecostal. (The sermon can be found online here in the coming week.) And it was a timely word, a word worth turning into a blog post. And here’s why I think it’s worth turning into a blog post: We all want to know our life has a purpose and to know we can make a difference in our world – and I believe we can!

Today we focussed on answering these five questions, and for the sake of keeping this post at a reasonable length, I’m just going to use the questions as section breaks.

Why Can’t You Be Shady?

Um..that’s really simple to answer but oh so easy for us to forget! The bottom line is this: you can’t be shady because light was meant to illumine (give insight into; expose ).  The scripture teaches us that Jesus is the light and that He came into this world to show us the way. (Jn 12: 44-46)

Why Do You Need to Shine?

THE most important reason you need to shine is that Jesus said so!

You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (Matthew 5:14–16, NLT)

In other supporting scriptures for this truth, we find that Jesus spoke against a lit lamp being put under a basket, bed, or bowl (Mk 4.21; Lk 8:16).

In the Ancient Near East (ANE), light was understood in the following ways:

  • Light was a common symbol for truth.
  • God’s chosen people, the Israelites, were to be a light for the Gentiles. (Is 49:6)
  • A lamp was put on a stand as it was always meant to be visible. It was a daily necessity. AND it was beneficial for all those in its’ vicinity.
  • For the most part, lanterns were very small and could fit in the palm of your hand.
  • Jesus called himself the light of the world and said that whoever follows him will have the light of life and won’t have to walk in darkness. (Jn 8:12)

You see, as followers of Christ we are bringing Jesus with us wherever we go. John R. Stott would say “we are not to conceal the truth we know or the truth of what we are. We are not to pretend to be other than we are, but be willing for our Christianity to be visible to all.”1

How Do You Grow Your Brightness?

1. Get to know Jesus. How? By regularly reading the Bible and by being in a community where the people of God gather. Jesus said “for where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” And Paul also teaches us that we are not to forsake the gathering together. (Mt 18:20; Heb 10:25)

2. Pay attention to what you allow your eyes to see. (Lk 11:33-36)

3. Pay attention to the motives of your heart. Ask yourself, Am I focussed on shining Christ? What messages am I sending with the decisions I’m making?

Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.” (Psalm 26:2, NLT)

4. Get to know TRUTH. And when you receive it, live it. Knowing the truth will allow you to stand firm, no matter what. God want you to have his strength! (Ephesians)

5. Let Christ transform your character. Reflect also on 2 Peter 1: 3-10.

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” (Galatians 5:22–25, NLT)

6. Believe Jesus at HIS Word. Jesus declared that if we remained in him and He in us that fruit would be born. (Jn 15:5)

What are the Fruits of Your Shine?

Powerful truths listed in that scriptures below!

He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:16, NLT)

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9, NLT)

Do you see that? When we are doing our own special work it helps the whole body to grow. That thought blows my mind a little! Also, priests had opportunities to intercede for people and to teach people about holy living.

When Do You Need to Start?

TODAY! You are a light that is needed! Remember, in the ANE, light served a necessary and vital purpose.

Wanna know something cool? Well maybe you already know this, but I just came across this in my recent studies. Jesus NEVER called himself the salt of the earth; he only referred to us in that way. Salt, you see, was meant to preserve something and we as Christians are expected to preserve and share the gospel truth so the path to Jesus can be lit up and made visible to others.

Will you commit yourself to not being shady and to allowing your life to shine?

You, my friend, you were meant to shine!

Our worship leaders led us in signing the song This Little Light of Mine, I’ve been humming it ever since.

Reverend Carmen

A Step of Faith Is Now A LEAP!

It was a little over a year ago that I announced on my blog that I was stepping out to officially launch LEAD Women. ( If you’re curious about that, you can read that post here). And with the pilot season and now a full year behind me, I am as confident as ever that God has called me to dedicate my life to encouraging and investing in the lives of leaders.

This past LEAD Women season was one of hearing the deep longings of fellow leaders, meeting new people and cultivating more authentic community. It was also a season of co-leading a monthly leadership gathering with a fantastic local woman, Betty Mutwiri, and a season of being inspired by the way God is working in others and creating space for others to shine. It also held new opportunities for me to teach, preach, and lead.  Plus, I got ordained! I’m sincerely humbled by the things God has allowed me to witness and participate in. And I am thankful for the ordination journey and the affirmation of my call to Christian ministry.

I especially love the leadership development and engagement of women leaders. LEAD stands for leadership engagement and development, and the mission of LEAD Women is Empowering Christian Women to Lead with Confidence. How the ministry of LEAD Women works in practice is this: it’s varied. From a monthly gathering this past season to two weekly development opportunities in 2018-2019; to increased speaking engagements; to awareness of professional development opportunities; to one-on-ones in the local coffee shop; to coming alongside other women leaders in transformative seasons. LEAD Women is not just one thing. It’s one mission lived out in a variety of expressions. It’s the call on my life that I’m stewarding.

And though I am privileged to minister in a variety of contexts, seeing women thrive in their gifts and calling is a passion that continues to grow in my own heart.

I’m growing into the LEAD Women call. I’m comfortable with not fully knowing at this time what LEAD Women will evolve into. God has called each one of us to be faithful in every season – living fully into that season’s calling and not running ahead of the Spirit’s leading.  Do I have dreams and goals? Sure I do. Have I sketched out some long-term goals for life? Sure I have. But those do no trump the responsibility I have to live faithfully and presently in the here and now based on what God has revealed for this season.

I’m living my best life, and I hope you are too! If you’re curious about some of the LEAD Women opportunities, see here. I’ll update more opportunities as I can. I don’t have a promotional strategist or someone who updates my website or someone who creates all my posts and graphics, so I do my best to update and keep you informed. Also, feel free to follow me on twitter @carmenkampman or on Facebook.  And, of course, sign up to follow my blog!

Some other exciting things that I am involved in in 2018-2019 (remember that varied expression) are the following:

  • Officiating the wedding of my daughter Bobbie to her fiancé, Jordan.
  • Her Influence Retreat. Details found here.
  • Women’s Journey of Faith Fall 2018 Conference. Details found here.
  • Women’s Journey of Faith Spring 2019 Conference. Follow their website for the news releases.
  • Teaching a first-year undergraduate class: Foundations in Leadership. More information can be found here.

It’s going to be an exciting year!

I pray for you to be brave, to embrace the call of God on your life, and to live it fully!

Reverend Carmen

 

 

 

Living a Spiritual Life in the Midst of the Daily Hustle

If you’re like me – a result-oriented person and lover of ticking off that task that’s been scheduled in my bullet journal – then you’re likely to understand this tension. It’s the tension of there is lots to do today AND I need to spend time alone seeking and hearing God.

Henri Nouwen said this:

Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life.

If you were to google the question What does it mean to live a spiritual life? you’d get a variety of opinions. For me, I think living a spiritual life is a couple of things. First, it’s the yes response to Jesus’ invitation to come and follow Him. Second, it’s a way of life (habits and practices and beliefs and choices) that we learn about through our interaction with the Scriptures (Bible) and by being in a Christian community. Third, it’s attentiveness to our living relationship with Jesus Christ. And fourth, it’s attentiveness to our soul and its needs.

Jesus modelled the need to create space for time alone with the Father.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35, NIV)

I find it fascinating that Jesus got up before the crack of dawn, the typical time the entire household would awake, and he left the house, going off to a solitary place. Isn’t it interesting that he had to leave the house and go off to a solitary place?  Was that because the house was full of people and distractions? We don’t really know why he chose to the leave the house. I feel fortunate to have spaces within my home where in the colder months I can retreat to. But in the summer, I love to sit on the deck in my backyard. I especially like to be up watching the sunrise in the summer months.

But wherever that “go to” place is, it’s important for us to find it and to be intentional to prioritize time alone with our loving Heavenly Father – the one who “speaks peace to his faithful people” (Ps 85:8). The one from whom our joy and strength and refreshing springs come (Ps 84:5).

Curiously, the text in Mark does not tell us what Jesus’ prayers comprised of that day or what the Father may have communicated to him or how the fellowship in that time was within the Triune God. Oh, how sweet and hard those times must have been. We can only imagine!

Now if Nouwen is right, and I think he is, if we do not have a practice of Solitude in our life, it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. And if you find yourself longing for more and have been unable to put your finger on what’s missing, perhaps this is it.

So I would invite you to spend some time reflecting on and answering the following questions:

  1. Am I living the spiritual life I long to be living? Why or why not?
  2. Is God calling me deeper and inviting me to come away and be with Him? What does that look like?
  3. Do I have a place to go or do I need to create a space to go to?
  4. Do I need to get up earlier in order to have solitude or might I need to make some other adjustments in my schedule because the hustle of life isn’t slowing down any time soon? What adjusments might I need to make?
  5. In keeping with the principle of just start and start small when making changes, what can I start doing, based on what the Spirit has revealed during my reflection time, that will put me on the path of living the spiritual life I long to be living?

When making adjustments in our life, it can be challenging. Hence the reason to just start and start small. I would suggest that you set up a goal for yourself for the next six weeks (that should be doable by us all!). Pick your start and end date. And as part of this small change you’ll be making, make it a practice to weekly review your commitment to the goal and make adjustments as needed to keep you on track. If you’re a tracker like me, make it a daily practice to tick the box!

And if you want to learn more about Solitude, there are a number of authors that write on it. Authors such as Henri Nouwen, Ruth Haley Barton, and Richard Foster, to name a few.

Wishing you a day in which Solitude is a sweet part,

Reverend Carmen

What Jesus Gives You Cannot Be Taken Away

For a couple of weeks now the album Blackout by Steffany Gretzinger has been playing on repeat. It’s been one of those in season albums for me as every song on this album has had some sort of meaning and ministered to me.

And just today, as I was putting together an Ikea nightstand that’s been sitting in the box for about two months just waiting until I had time, I was listening to the album mentioned above and her song Blackout was just another Aha moment for me – hence today’s blog post.

This is the song’s description from her website:

Blackout heralds the message that even when circumstances bend towards chaos, light that shines from the inside out cannot be dimmed. 1

The last few months have been hard as I have journeyed through dealing with a person who was out to do me reputational harm. He likes to focus his energy on doing everything he can to harass me, including using passive aggressive behaviours, bullying tactics and name calling.  And because I believe God has called me to take a stand and to endure in this volunteer position, I am staying the course and will continue to do so. (No, not in an abusive way!)

Staying the course has taught and reminded me of many things. It has taught me to be patient and to continue to cultivate a deep reliance on God. When someone falsely says something about you, I think our natural tendency is to want to fight back, to want justice – Now! But I’ve remained remarkably calm during these last few months- that’s a God thing! In addition to that, I have asked the Lord to reveal to me any areas that my heart needs to change and any lessons I need to learn during this season. I don’t want this opportunity wasted if I can grow in and through it, especially as God continues to call me to deeper refining and deeper levels of trust.

I’ve been reminded once again that God is my righteousness and His righteousness cannot be taken away.  The throne room is always open to those longing to connect with God. I can’t tell you how many times I have leaned into that sacred space and asked God to be my victor and to expose those things that are not in accordance with His will. The Psalms have been particularly meaningful in this season. David was a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22), and time and time again we find him calling out to God for justice and waiting for God to act.

Staying the course has taught me in an even greater measure that my confidence to lead and do what’s right is not dependent on what another person thinks of me – it’s part of stewarding the call. At the very end of his letter to the Colossians, Paul also sends a message directly to Archippus. Paul says to him, “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” (Co 4:17)

I wonder if Archippus was dealing with other leaders who were trying to cause him harm? We’re not told what is happening, but whatever it was, it warranted a reminder from Paul for Archippus to stay the course and complete the ministry that had been entrusted to him.

During this season it has been critical for me to remember that we fight not against flesh and blood – this is a crucial perspective if you want to continue to show up in life and lead with integrity. Behaviours may be evil (we can judge fruit), but every single person is God’s workmanship that God is seeking to draw unto himself and to transform from the inside out.

I absolutely love who we are in Christ and that Christ in us cannot be taken away or dimmed! How amazing is that?! So the next time you have to show up in the midst of the hard, ask God to continue to shine in and through you.

“You can’t turn out a light shining from the inside.”

-Steffany Gretzinger

If this post speaks to you today, take some time to remind yourself of the things that Jesus has given you – new mercy, His peace, His abiding presence in you, a hope, a future, etc., that cannot be taken away. Let your heart, mind, and spirit be strengthened by His truth about you and the things He’s given you, which no one can take away!

Reverend Carmen

Good Intentions Don’t Excuse Bad Behaviour or Consequences

It’s been a fruitful journey of learning these last few years. A journey in which I have had to lean into corrective measures and where I have intentionally sought out feedback on how I’m doing. And one thing I have tried to avoid is making these excuses: It wasn’t my intention to do that, or it’s not my fault that happened.

And truthfully, sometimes it wasn’t, but I had to be willing to listen to what my choices did and how they affected others. And then, based on that clarity, I had to intentionally make different decisions based on the lessons I was learning. I leaned in and learnt new behaviours.

And choosing to change your behaviours requires incredible vulnerability. It requires self-discipline to journey through the parts of yourself that we most often want to avoid. It means that there is a bridge that I must cross, and that bridge is leading to a new, transformed me. But the choice is mine. I’m responsible for taking that step of obedience in the right direction. Sometimes it’s scary, especially if behaviours are entrenched in us.

Good intentions don’t excuse bad behaviour – ever.

As I cross from one place of transformation to another, sometimes agonizingly so, I learn lessons. Lessons such as don’t react to everything. Don’t read everything. When I make a mistake, own it, don’t look for excuses for the bad behaviour. Ask for forgiveness when and where appropriate.

It’s so essential for any leader to be mindful that what they do and how they do it affects others – and it touches and transforms their own soul.  It’s vital in leadership to learn new skills and to mine the depths of our souls, seeking to learn who we are and the hurts that we need to leave at the cross, never to be picked up again.

Always remember that your identity is in Christ. Let His truth be the loudest.

Embrace it. Cling to it. Daily remind yourself of it. Meditate on it. Be still in it, allowing it to reach every corner of your soul.

I have loved this Hillsong song in recent months.

Another of my big lessons from these past five years has been this: the ones whom I journey with, the ones who are companions and friends on the journey,  must be chosen wisely. Why? For they will influence who I become as I seek to live receptive to feedback and transformation. I want not to be around toxic people and behaviours. I don’t surround myself with those who make excuses for bad behaviour. I pick the wise, the loving, the kind, the ones filled with grace AND truth because, at the end of each day, their presence in my life makes me a better human being.

We face our greatest leadership challenge every morning in the mirror. – Andy Stanley

Are you stuck in patterns that you know aren’t working? Are your good intentions really just excuses for bad behaviour? When you connect the dots in your life, are you where you are based on the choices you’ve made or not made? Are you an excuse maker? A blame shifter?

Here’s the good news friend, Christ came so that we could have new life! We don’t have to stay where we are. I don’t have to stay where I am, and neither do you. The choices (or excuses) we make today do not have to be the ones we make tomorrow!

Jesus said the following:

I have come as a Light into the world, so that whoever believes in Me [whoever cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] may not continue to live in darkness.” (John 12:46, AMP)

and

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” (John 10:10, AMP)

New life is ours to live! “His grace runs deep.” I choose life. What do you want?

Reverend Carmen

 

Board Series: The Role of the Assistant to the Board

If you’ve been tracking with me for any length of time, you know that I’ve been on a passionate roll to bring some clarity in the area of board governance, especially since taking a board governance class (master’s level) this past year.

If you’re new to my blog and journey, here is a recap of my Governance Series to date:

  • What do governing boards do? Found here.
  • What is the role of the Chair? Found here.
  • Things to consider before saying “yes” to being on a board. Found here.
  • Warning signs of a toxic board. Found here.
  • The director’s voice. Found here.
  • Why does policy matter?  And other miscellaneous questions. Found here.

Boards, if they are responsible for a large number of things, will need assistance. Usually, administrative aid comes to the board via the hiring of a Board Assistant. On some boards this may be a volunteer position while on others it is a paid position. Whichever the case, here are some important things to know.

Board Assistants should sign and be bound by both a Confidentiality Agreement and a Code of Conduct. Why does this matter? It matters because they are privy to confidential information and they are associated with (seen as a part of) the particular board they are assisting. And for an assistant, it is important to note that a signed Confidentiality Agreement endures past your time of employment (whether you quit or your position was terminated).

So how does that play out? It means that while you are and were functioning as the Board Assistant, any information you had access to is still off limits to your friends or other members of the moral ownership. How you behave post your term as a Board Assistant, or on any committee for that matter, will be noticed by others and may have damaging effects for you if you are found to be of questionable character, careless with your words, and are misusing confidential information.

Of critical importance is that the assistant should understand that they are there to assist. They are there to provide much-needed support to the board as a whole. Their role is super, super important in helping a board maintain effective and efficient rhythms.

Some of the ways they assist the board are by ensuring communication is sent out in a timely fashion, regularly updating the Board Policy Manual and seeing to it that the directors continually have access to the most currently approved policies, attentiveness in recording board meeting minutes, preparing documents for the board and any necessary documents that need to be signed by the Chair, and reminding the board executive of important deadlines.  In some active boards, the Board Assistant also helps plan a Chair’s schedule. Here is an example job description.

Now, what are they not there to do? They are not there to push the agenda of one or more individuals either on the board or as part of the moral ownership. They are not there to direct the board or question their decisions. They may ask clarifying questions to accurately understand and record the conclusions the board has just arrived at or the information they want to be communicated, but they are not the Chair or Chief Governing Officer of the board.  Therefore, just like board members are to be carefully selected, so, too, should a Board Assistant.

Several years ago I had the privilege of working with a highly competent Board Assistant. She knew her role well. And not only did she know her role well, she also had a tremendous institutional memory as she and her family had been part of the founding families of the non-profit organization. In addition to that, she had four essential characteristics that made her stand out for me. She was humble, knowledgeable, teachable, and resilient. Given the complex nature of her role, she was able to work collaboratively with the board, was able to engage with the diverse personalities of the board, and was able to add value in tremendous ways because she had a good handle on policy governance and how she could assist the board in achieving its goals.

If you ever have any questions about board governance or have some insightful resources you’re willing to share, please let me know.

Wishing you a healthy board experience!

The Reverend Carmen Kampman

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