As I have been preparing for our upcoming LEAD Women event on January 22nd, I have been reflecting a lot on the idea of pruning and how we’re often stuck in life because we are not comfortable with endings or don’t know how to end things. Henry Cloud, in his book Necessary Endings: The Employee, Businesses, and Relationships That All of Us Have to Give Up, suggests that many don’t have a healthy worldview about the healthiness and need for endings. And because none of us like painful experiences, we often avoid confronting the things within ourselves that are keeping us stuck. And just this week I heard an interesting statistic, here it is:
CHARLES DUHIGG: Well, habits are a big deal not only in our lives, because about 40% to 45% of what we do every day sort of feels like a decision, but it’s actually habit.
Growing up it happened on multiple occasions that I heard these words from my Mom, “Watch the way you’re speaking to me.” I deserved it. There was an attitude in my words, and likely my body language too, that was coming full force at my Mom. There are times even as an adult, especially when I am feeling stressed, that I can become overly directive in my communication with others and I know I need to change my tone. But here’s another important truth: sometimes we need to change the tone and choice of words we are using with and about our self.
I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all. Eph4: 1-6
In a matter of one week, this particular portion of scripture came up three times – so I am today writing about it.
“I want my moment,” I said. I meant it. It mattered. And it mattered to me not only for myself but for all those other women looking, following, and watching my journey as a female leader.
I’ve been invited to the table of leadership. I’m transitioning from an Executive Director of Advancement to a Vice President of Advancement.
Since encountering Christ, I have always sensed a call upon my life. The road of discovering it has not always been easy. I have fumbled. I have studied. I have taken steps of faith. I have failed forward. I have had times of aching. Of being unsure. Of being refined. Of hitting rock bottom. You know those moments where everything is stripped away? It seems, at least for me, it’s in those moments when God still whispers, “Take up your cross and follow me. Not everyone will understand, but you belong to me. Follow me.” I choose “yes” to all that God has for me.
In the journey, there have also been moments of intense joy. Of being sure. Of embracing and living in a beautiful moment, and a moment came this week. You see my friends in the MB/NWO District are people with whom I have shared a lot of important moments with. Over the years there have been new appointments in ministry, shared prayers during hard seasons, shouts of joy at a victory, celebrations at ordination services, and strong words of encouragement for all that God was doing in my life and theirs. PAOC is my fellowship. The MB/NWO District are some my people. I feel at home among them. And they blessed me this week in ways that are forever etched upon my heart.
Not only did they announce my new appointment (of which I feel very privileged to steward) they honoured me as a woman in ministry. They encouraged, affirmed, and blessed me. They honoured female leaders, and they invited the women leaders to surround me and pray for me. (My brother in Christ, Andrew, said a moving prayer.) It was my “moment” coming to pass in ways that exceeded my expectations. I felt loved. I felt like I belonged. I felt an even greater measure of courage for the days ahead seep into my soul! I felt hope for all those women watching and wondering if they, too, could be called to steward such responsibility.
I believe with all my heart that God calls men AND women to co-labour together for the advancement of His Kingdom. I believe with all my heart that God gives people gifts (Eph 4:8) and that we are to be who he made us to be for his glory.
Shout out to my husband Albert and all our kids – I love you! Shout out to my HCS colleagues for being a part of my journey and for allowing me to grow up and into my calling these last few years. And shout out to my MB/NWO PAOC family for blessing me with a moment.
To those of you following along on my journey of transformation, blessings in your journey. I pray you embrace Jesus, take up your cross, and wholeheartedly follow him.
I had the privilege of being a guest writer on a colleague and friend’s blog. I hold Andrew in high regard.
Check out his website and my guest post at the link below. And, sign up to follow his blog – he writes about some interesting stuff!
I’ll admit, it has taken me time and will continue to take me time, to process the things that God is teaching me as a result of my recent trip to Liberia. And it was this past week during a Live2Lead Seminar that I realized this: Liberia taught me more deeply about the need to linger in another’s presence.
In Liberia, there were times that I sat with my friend Naomi. (She’s in all the attached photos and isn’t she stunning?!) Sometimes there were very few words spoken, but there was a presence. Her presence. Her hopes and dreams. Her longings for God. Her curiosity about me. And there was God, working both in us and around us. And there was joy, the kind of joy that comes from sitting with someone you care about.
And for us there were also times of focussed concentration as together we attempted to draw botanical flowers. (I had brought a drawing book with me.) Initially I had decided to stay home on the day the team had intended to go Monrovia because I was nervous about being stuck in a car in hot (never been to a place so hot and humid!) weather. And because I had made the decision to stay home I had asked Naomi if she wanted to spend time learning together. Then the team’s plans changed, and they were going to the ocean. I wanted to go to the ocean! But I had given my word, so I stayed back.
In hindsight I realize how selfish it was to even consider rescheduling or canceling my time with Naomi and, if I had postponed or canceled, I would have missed out on something special. I would have missed out on Naomi’s laughter when comparing our artistry. (I suck.) I would have missed out on watching her eyes light up when she beheld the flower she wanted to draw. I would have missed out on seeing her never-give-up attitude. I would have missed out on being in the presence of someone whom God loves with an everlasting love. I would have missed a lesson that has continued to shape me since coming home.
You see I want to be more present in my own life. I want to be present with the people who are currently within reach – within my ability to embrace and look in the eye. I’ve discovered in the weeks since being home that social media and trying to “keep up” with everyone all over the globe is more than I can do. I can’t like every post, read every update, or post on several different platforms. So here’s my change: I am drastically reducing the time I spend on social media reading and responding. You see, I learned from Naomi that I want to look at your facial expressions, to hear your tone when you speak, and I also wish to have heart and head capacity to linger in your presence – even if for just a few minutes. I don’t want to be distracted!
So let me challenge you with a few reflection questions – they are ones I am also asking myself. Is my energy and attention being dragged away by things that are not healthy for me? When I set up a coffee or tea time with a friend, am I attentive to the relationship or am I distracted? If I’m distracted, what’s the source of my distraction? Am I asking God how I might serve those he loves?
Action this week: Be intentional to get rid of at least one distraction so you can be more present in your life.
It was a step of faith to say “yes” to a missions trip to Liberia (Africa); I had no idea what this opportunity would encompass. I knew I would have the opportunity to teach and minister with other PAOC pastors and leaders, but I had no idea how this experience would impact my worldview, let alone how my heart would be so profoundly impacted by the things I saw and experienced.
With my own eyes, I have now seen mission work in one of the poorest countries in the world. And though our family has been Compassion Canada sponsors for over 25 years, we have only ever seen pictures of what life looks like in a third-world country. I’m changed. I don’t know all the ways that I’ve changed as it will take me a while to process all that I’ve seen and experienced, but I know this: my eyes have beheld suffering and hardship, my arms have embraced others who have endured sufferring I will never know (Civil War & Ebola), and my ears have heard stories of death, trauma, future dreams and God’s goodness.
I have a new found respect for missionaries and the ministry of missional workers, and I am asking God how I might reorder my life to give more because it is needed, desperately needed. And what we do for the least of these, is serving Jesus. I’ve been thinking on this: if God’s people are his vessels for kingdom advancement, then it seems to me that we need to be supporting our missionaries as they seek to serve Jesus and advance His kingdom is areas with limited resources.
One of my teammates, Pastor Donna Drisner, said this: “They don’t want what we have, they want who we have.” That who being Jesus. They want Jesus to strengthen their weak knees, to encourage their hearts, and to help them learn. They welcome opportunities to influence their country and its’ people for the better, and they take every occasion to share Jesus’ love with each other.
Here are a few of my photos. (For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may have seen some of these already.)
As I process, I will be sharing more about the things I experienced in Liberia.
It is my last day here in Canmore, Alberta where I have spent the last four days with my kids. (Not all could be here, but most were.) We’ve shared laughs, meals, walks, and done some incredible hiking together. And amidst it all we read together the book of 1 Peter. It was a random choice as I wanted to be able to finish what we started, so I chose a book that I knew had 5 chapters.
It came as no surprise to God as he knows exactly what we need and when we need it, and even though we think it may be a random choice, God’s Word to us can be so timely. In the right season it is healing balm for our soul – and that is exactly what happened! It was day 2 that God, through His Word, spoke powerfully to my soul.
For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment.
Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2: 19-20)
I have felt a sense of “calling” to serve in the Body of Christ since my early twenties. It is a call that has taken me on a long unpredictable journey, and on that journey there have been seasons of intense happiness and times of deep grieving. Things that have caused these seasons can be attributed to both external and internal circumstances. And for the last number of years I have been going through a season of deep refining. It’s been painful. But I now experientially know this: God is pleased when we endure.
There are season of enduring in relationships with people who do not have our best interests at heart. Heck, they may not even like us much. There are seasons of leaning into discipline/correction/hard feedback at work or church or school that, though the fruit is not immediately seen, can transform our life.
During the last few years there were so many opportunities where I could have chosen an easy path, but I chose to lean into hard. Hard cost me. It cost me my pride – which needed to go anyways. It forced me to remain silent when all I wanted to do was fight! It forced me to lean into God and ask him to fight my battles. It forced me to learn new skills. Hard allowed me the opportunity to be broken and changed, and I like who I am becoming. Why? Because God is pleased with me. Because in and with Christ I have discovered a much better path and viewpoint that had I not leaned into hard, I would have never discovered.
If at the end of my life it could be said of me that she suffered for doing good, she endured patiently, she encouraged Christian women to lead with confidence, she loved others well, and she knew God was well pleased with her so she kept on choosing hard over easy, that is enough for me.
The view is better the other side of hard.
Wherever you are in the hard (suffering for doing good), may you experientially know God is pleased with you.
Over twenty-three years ago was the first time I went to a revival meeting and saw a woman proclaiming the Word of God with passion, boldness, and authority. It.was.awesome. As I sat glued to my seat watching her, a strange thing happened: I envisioned myself up there. But what happened next stuck, in a paralyzing kind of way. As soon as I evisioned myself up there, I said to myself, “Who do you think you are? That will never be you.”
I felt shame in that moment while also feeling a sense of something igniting in my spirit. And for the next twenty or more years, I have wrestled with the feelings of shame and the pull of calling. Thankfully, God thought better for he has brought me to a place of victory. Victory in being confident and sure of my calling.
There is room in God’s will for me to be me. (Psalm 37:4) – B. Antle
I believe God has a calling on my life, a calling to Empower Christian women to lead with confidence. And how is that going to happen? Obedient step by obedient step. And the first step is to officially launch LEAD Women this Fall.
I cannot tell you the totality of all that God will do through LEAD Women or my own life, but I can tell you where he is beginning to work: right here in the heart of Saskatoon. As I sit across from women leaders seeking to grow in their gifts and asking hard and thoughtful questions, and as I linger over coffee (tea for me) with still more women leaders, it is evident that God is moving among us. And of this I am sure: God’s got more! So.much.more.
So today, I boldly step up and out into my calling. A calling to equip, encourage, and journey with women leaders – beginning here in my home province. Okay, there’s fear there too! But God’s call is bigger than my fear, and I know he will give me, give us, as women leaders, everything we need.
Check out the LEAD Women page for upcoming LEAD Women dates. I am so looking forward to sharing with you all the God stories and lessons along the way.
A special note of thanks:
Albert, I love you forever. Thank you for always “encouraging me to develop the gifts that God has placed within me.”
Thank you to my Horizon colleagues who have been so encouraging, teaching me many leadership lessons these last number of years with still more to come. I can’t think of a better group to be team with.
To my academic advisor and professor in my MA Leadership and Mangement journey, Paul Magnus, you are a gift from God. You make leadership and its possibilities come alive, and you made me feel welcome at the table.
To my women friends who’ve trusted me with your dreams, your questions, your brokenness, your excitement about what could be and who’ve sought my counsel or processed my own journey offering me your wisdom and counsel, you make me want to be braver than I am. So let’s be brave together! Let’s place our confidence in Jesus Christ, embrace our life, steward our gifts, and make a difference in our world – beginning right here in Saskatchewan.
Beloved, what if we took God seriously when we’re invited to “Be Strong & Courageous” and “Go Do”? How would your daily life be different if you actually believed yourself in Christ to be strong, to be able, to be gifted?
What would be different for you today if you absolutely believed that God called you to teach, speak, show hospitality, be a stay-at-home mom, farm, feed the poor, proclaim the gospel in restricted nations, go to Bible college in your 40s or 50s or 60s or 70s, lead a not-for-profit, open up a business, travel as an evangelist, be a productive team member on mission with others? Take a moment and just imagine what that might look like. How would you show up?
“I’m not enough” and “I can’t” are lies that I believed for far too long. I lacked the confidence to step out and try new things and to be brave enough to steer my life in a direction that allowed me to grow the gifts that the Holy Spirit has placed within me. And I know I’m not alone in believing a lie because I often see and hear other women say “I can’t” – demonstrating it in both actions and words.
Today, I want you to understand this: God Calls, so YES.YOU.CAN. Will you have to grow in your gifts? Yes. Will you make mistakes? Yes. Will you have to be ridiculously in charge of your life and its’ stewardship? Without question. BUT, you.can.do.it.
One of the things that I’ve done in recent months is this: I daily write out TRUTH affirmations about myself. Truthfully, up until a few months ago, it was so much easier for me to encourage others, speaking words of truth and life and believing it to be true…for them. BUT, for me to fully believe and embrace that God has Called Me so I Can, I started a daily practice of gratitude and speaking truth to myself. (I am currently using the 5-Minute A Day Journal, which I share about here and which I highly recommend.)
I’m still growing in faith and confidence, but where I was a few months ago and where I am today are radically different, and I know that believing in myself because of God’s call makes me able. I’m done with the critics who want to argue about whether or not a woman can. I don’t have time for ignorance or conversations that are meant to heap shame and condemnation or tell me “I can’t.” Carmen believes God called her, so she does. She pursues the God-opening doors, and she prays for new ones to open. She says “no” to things that would be harmful to her soul and relationship with Christ, and she takes seriously stewarding the ONE life she’s been given. She loves God, embraces the journey of evolving, and loves, equips and encourages others.
That, my friends, is how I’m moving forward – with confidence in God and a deepening confidence in myself.
If you lack in confidence, here are a couple things you can do for yourself:
I believe in the Almighty God who called you, and I believe you can do ALL and BECOME ALL he’s purposed for you to be.