Leadership Minute – Oh, the pain!

If you’ve ever led a family, a team, or anything else, you probably know that leading is often painful. Sure, it’s also a privilege to lead and there are many blessings that come with it, but it’s important to be honest that a lot of the time it involves pain.

What sort of pain are we talking about? Let me count the ways… there’s the pain of not meeting your own expectations or the expectations of other people, the pain of conflict between people in your team or with you, the pain of feeling judged or rejected or misunderstood, the pain of seeing your own team members in pain, the pain of never being able to please everybody…and them letting you know about it, the pain of sacrificing some leisure time for leadership responsibilities, the pain of responding gracefully when you’d rather respond less than graciously, the pain of constant responsibility, the pain of not feeling led yourself, the pain of failure, the pain of feeling like you spend more time dealing with drama than being productive, the pain of compromise and never feeling like you’re able to give enough of yourself or your time to excel in the role. You might have your own examples to add to that list.

A number of years ago, I heard a powerful (and hilarious) talk by Craig Groeschel (Pastor of Life.Church and founder of the YouVersion Bible App) when he was in Australia in 2009. His key message was that, “A leader’s constant companion is pain.” (click this link to see an edited version of it https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdNk2AnMYnM). None of us like pain and we try to avoid it, but to get anywhere in life or to grow, we need to move into the pain.

Craig noted that God wants to increase the pain threshold of leaders in 3 key areas:

  1. Facing unjustified criticism and rejection – the higher you go, the more you’ll experience the pain of criticism and attacks from people.
  2. Making difficult decisions – often, we need to make decisions that are right but will hurt the feelings of some people. 
  3. The pain of God’s pruning – sometimes, we need to be pruned and healed of the junk on our inside before God can use us to do good things in the world.

A challenge to take away – “Choose the pain of obedience over the comfort of disobedience.”

For reflection:

  • What pain are you experiencing as a leader right now? What is causing you the greatest pain?
  • What pain, or painful decision, have you been trying to avoid, but you know you need to tackle to move forward?
  • What is ONE thing you can do today or this week to step into the pain?





Leadership Minute – Remember to Par-tay!

Have you ever met someone who has managed to get good things done in life, but they make everyone miserable in the process? Most achievements take a lot of hard work to get there. If you want to retain your sanity, retain your team and actually enjoy something of the adventure we call “life”, then plan to celebrate along the way.

Yes, there are times to get your head down and work hard, but we tend to forget that it’s just as important to stop working, remember the good things, celebrate the wins (however small), rest, and connect with people at a more relaxed and “human” level. If you ask older people what they wish they’d done differently in life, often they’ll say something like, “I wish I’d stopped and enjoyed it all a bit more”.

If you’ve ever read the Bible right through, you’ll see that God got busy creating and then rested and enjoyed it. God made us to have regular rest times and enjoy life too. God even commanded people to have regular celebrations and feasts – God is a party God! Jesus was even criticised for celebrating and enjoying life too much!

We’re human be-ings, not machines. Think about that for a minute. How great is that?! How well do you “be” and celebrate? What can you do to help your team stop, remember and celebrate?



Leadership Minute – Where’s the map?

Have you ever gotten in the car and just started driving, not really knowing how you were going to get to your destination? Sometimes we can fudge our way along and make that work, but usually only when we know where we started from and have at least a vague idea of where we’re going.

If you or your team want to get anywhere in life, produce anything of value, and avoid wasting time just spinning around in circles in the dark (sure, it sounds kinda fun to start with, but the shine wears off when you smack into something and get seriously hurt!), then you’ll need to get clarity around a couple of things:

  1. Where are we at now? Be honest and specific about this.
  2. Where are we going, or what are we aiming for? As I said last week, if you aim at nothing, you’ll hit nothing.

Once you have clarity around those things, figuring out how to get where you’re going is much easier. Not necessarily easy, but easier.

If you’ve ever looked at a map, there’s usually more than one route to get to where you’re going. For some people, that choice might be paralysing. What if I make the wrong choice and it doesn’t go well??? Word to the wise – there is no perfect way of getting to your destination. Even the routes that may look easier at the start can throw all sorts of roadworks, bumps and incidents your way (e.g. things like your system crashing and losing your blog post when it’s nearly done!). Just keep your eye on the goal, pick a route, plot some possible steps and get moving…or at least take ONE step. As you know, it’s much easier to redirect and change course when something is already moving and has momentum.

What if the destination is not even on the map and you can’t see how to get there? Again, take ONE step. Keep an eye on the goal and take one more step, and another, and another.

As Martin Luther King once said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where do you want to go?
  3. What is ONE STEP you can take to get there?

take one step

This is a recording…

Some days, I’m very tempted to make a recording of myself. Don’t worry – I’m not having a mid-life crisis and entertaining delusions of becoming a pop-princess…it’s more about saving some sanity!

Parents (or carers) of young kids, I know you’ll understand this one. Like me, you’ve probably lost count of the number of times you’ve said, “get dressed”, “put your shoes on”, “eat your breakfast”, “keep your hands to yourself!”, “where’s your homework?”, “put your shoes away”, “no, it is NOT funny to smear Vegemite on your sister!”, “turn off the TV”, “go to bed!”…”go to bed!”…”go to bed!”…

It can be so frustrating and mind-numbing having to say the same things over and over and over and over and over…sorry, got a bit stuck…and over again. I’ve even thought about having different recordings for different times of the day. I could have “The Breakfast Mix”, “Dinner-time Droning” and “Bedtime Blues”. It would save so much energy if I could just press “play” and not have to keep repeating the same information or instructions over and over.

Part of my own growth as a parent has been to remind myself that my kids are kids. Repetition is an important part of them learning and remembering the right things to do at the right time. Hopefully, one day they’ll internalize those things (possibly with my nagging voice in their heads! Mwahaha!) and we can take the “repeat” button off. Better to teach them the right things now…even if I have to repeat it a thousand times…than be sorry later.

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” (From the Bible – Proverbs 22:6)

My word for this year – GROW

Each year for the past few years, I’ve tried to focus on one thing, or area of my life, to work on that year.

On New Year’s Eve, a friend mentioned that she was going to ask God to give her one word to focus her life for the year. I thought that was a great idea, so on New Year’s Day, I sat on the couch in our sun-room and chatted to God about what one word could focus my life this year (if you’re not into “God-stuff”, maybe just spend a quiet moment thinking about what word would be appropriate for you this year).

The word that was impressed on my heart was, “GROW”.

When I thought about what that might mean, all sorts of things came to mind. I want to be better, to change, to transform. I want to grow as a person – in my thinking and experiences. I want to grow in my relationships – with God, with my hubby, my kids, and with other people.

Why should I bother to try to grow? Basically, because I need to – I’m not perfect. None of us are. But, where there is life, there should be growth. That’s the way we’re designed. If we don’t see growth in a living thing, we know there’s something wrong.

To grow this year, there are a few things I’m going to need. Just like a plant, I’ll need the right “nutrients” or input – that will include things like reading, learning from others and being in the right environment (e.g. having positive, encouraging and healthy influences). It will take effort and a deliberate plan to grow – e.g. deliberately trying new things, or new ways of doing things.

Growth is exciting, but it can be a bit scary too. To grow, we need to come to terms with reality, to prune or “lop off” our unhealthy bits or habits. Ouch…that can really hurt! But, just like a plant, we end up much healthier for the pruning.

What will be the test of whether I am growing or have grown this year? The fruit.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.” – Reinhold Niebuhr

 I’d love to hear your one word!

What does your ‘wake’ look like?

Last year, I read a great book by well-known psychologist, Dr Henry Cloud, called “Integrity” (HarperCollins Publishers). One of the key things that lept out at me was his idea of the ‘wake’ that we leave behind – similar to the way a boat leaves a wake behind it as it goes through the water. Cloud notes that we leave a wake behind us, both in terms of tasks and relationships, as we move through our lives. That wake can either be good or bad.

I went to a funeral today. One of those more celebratory, “they lived well and had a good innings” kind of ones. It got me reflecting again about the legacy or ‘wake’ that we leave behind in terms of relationships. What it highlighted again for me was that it’s the every day choices we make that can impact people the most. That smile or hug, the text message to check on how someone’s going, a few encouraging words, or just noticing someone can have a huge positive impact on that person. Conversely, regularly criticising or belittling people, failing to give them attention, or being selfish and not sharing what we have is so damaging – on a personal level and to the healthy functioning of a whole community.

Sometimes I think we can focus too much on leaving behind some great project or large-scale thing that people can remember us by after we die. But…

the “little things” really ARE the big things!

Sure, we’re all human. We make mistakes or wear our “cranky pants” from time to time and don’t always behave or treat others as we should, but what’s the general pattern of our interactions with people? Do we leave them feeling better about themselves or the world, or do they leave us feeling bruised and beaten around the head?

I’m hoping and planning to leave people in a better place than they were in before they interacted with me. It’s not always easy. It’s a deliberate choice I’m making to sacrifice and give grace.

What does your wake look like?

This post is dedicated to “Aunty Joan”, who loved Jesus, loved people, and was very ready to “go home”.

A blog to call my own

Why blog? This was a question my husband asked me when I told him I was thinking of starting my own blog. My response was initially, “cos it’s better out than in!”. I love to journal and reflect on things anyway, so why not share the thoughts? Part of me also wanted my own blog because HE has a great one, and we both know that I’M the writer in the family, so surely I should have one if he does!

One of the things I love to do when I get together with other mums, friends or family is to share the things we’ve learned about life. I’m not just talking about navel-gazing…ok, so there’s a bit of that! But I really love to strip away the fluff and get to the guts of what’s really going on. I’ve found that when I open up and share my thoughts and experiences in life, other people commonly respond, “Oh, I thought it was just me!”. I reckon everyone needs to know that they are not alone and that, when it comes down to it, so many of us share the same struggles and hopes.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.'” – CS Lewis

Feel free to stick around, journey with me and let me know what you think!

Cheers & God bless,