Sunday, August 28, 2011

It's Not About the Leader

By Mary Byers

FRUSTRATION. It’s a normal part of a leader’s life. After all, we’re working with imperfect humans. Some are responsible, others forgetful. Some are stubborn dictators and others are people pleasers. And some are highly capable and others, well, let’s just say they’re still learning.

Recently, I was consumed by a leadership role when I was stymied by a challenge with a volunteer. She and I weren’t able to see eye to eye on something. Every time I contemplated the difference in opinion, I thought to myself, “I can’t deal with this!”

As my frustration grew, I realized that how I was thinking about the situation was part of the problem. Thinking, “I can’t handle this,” was disempowering. I wondered what would happen if, instead, I began to think, “I am capable of handling this situation.” Thinking such a positive thought didn’t come easily. I had to actively work at it. But it’s amazing what happened when I began to believe that I could, in fact, handle the challenge before me.

Instead of being overwhelmed, I felt empowered. Instead of feeling frustrated, I began to proactively seek solutions. And instead of focusing on what I considered to be a negative aspect of this volunteer’s personality, I began to see things from her point of view and acknowledge that she had a right to her opinion—even though it was different from mine.

Though small, the shift in my thinking (from “I can’t” to “I can”) made a big difference. It’s enabled me to see possibility where I didn’t think any existed. And it’s made me realize how much more comfortable I am when I am in control or things go my way. This incident has caused me to pause and rethink the value of truly collaborative efforts. I’m still not totally comfortable with the direction we’re taking. But I realize that leadership isn’t about the leader; it’s about the process of coming together to do work that’s bigger than each person individually. And my job, instead of allowing frustration to overwhelm me, is to ask, “How can we move forward in spite of the frustration?” As it turns out, I’m finding this simple question has application not only in my role as a leader, but also in my personal and professional life as well.

Mary Byers is a professional speaker and author of Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


By Carla Foote

This year more of my roses and perennials are getting a second bloom in the late summer.

I was watering around the patio this week and noticed both the miniature roses and the old-fashioned climbing rose were putting out new flowers. This is not completely unheard of but it hasn’t happened with these particular plants for several years in my garden. The conditions for re-blooming must be just right this summer.

I have been pondering the concept of second bloom since I saw my rosebuds near the patio. At 52 years old, I am most certainly (or almost certainly) in the second half of my physical life. In a reproductive, or “flowering” sense, my season of bloom is past. And yet in terms of the layers of skills, character and soul, my persona, I hope and expect to have many more productive years of contributing and flowering in a variety of ways. I hope to continue to growing intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. Some of my friends who are a few years ahead of me into this season have reflected that their most productive contributions have been in the re-blooming phase, after the demands of family have lessened.

What conditions must be present for re-blooming to take place? Enough water, sun and fertilizer are part of the equation, but deadheading - cutting off the old, spent blossoms during the flowering season - is key to continued blooms. Dead flowers signal the plant that it is time to set seeds and move into the next season of the lifecycle of the plant. Cutting back the flowers before they set seeds tells the plant to keep producing blossoms.

Looking at my roses and their new blossoms made me wonder about areas I need to deadhead in my own life. What habits, activities and attitudes need to be trimmed and put in the compost so I can see new growth and new flowers? Are there places where I am stuck, where old ideas and attitudes need to be cut away in order for the new to grow? This self-reflection process is a continual one in life, but certain seasons and transitions are more prone to the need to identify places to trim.

As I reflect, I am curious about the nature of my future blossoms ... something to ponder as the seasons change. The past few mornings and evenings, the air has been cooler and fall is just around the corner. The seasons change, and there are changes in the nature of productivity in our lives. I have had a distinct sense this summer of a boldness in my spirit, a desire to not be fearful of the next season, but to embrace and explore. Which areas will re-bloom and which will become dormant? I watch expectantly even as I trim and tend.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Small Things. Great Love.

By Trina Pockett

Harriett Tubman, Mother Teresa. Rosa Parks. Amy Carmichael. Sara Groves. The ONE Moms. Andrea Jenkins. What do these women have in common? They are all influential.

These women have incredible stories of leading in a time of adversity. Harriett Tubman literally led people to freedom. Rosa Parks stayed seated to fight injustice. Mother Teresa served the poor. Amy Carmichael saved women from a life of forced prostitution. Sara Groves has taken up the fight against human trafficking. The ONE MOMs are using their voices to fight poverty. And Andrea Jenkins shared her personal story with me.

I don’t think that any of these influential women were trying to make history; they just took the opportunities placed before them to make a difference in this world.

I think Mother Teresa said it best with “We can do no great things. Only small things with great love.”

You’ve probably never heard of Andrea Jenkins, but she is an influential woman, in a very private kind of way.

Actually she was virtually a stranger to me until the day I received a phone call from her. I was 22 years old, pregnant with our second child, and recently diagnosed with cancer. I was terrified. Andrea was a mom in the MOPS group I attended. Unbeknownst to me, Andrea had battled cancer and was in remission. She hadn’t told anyone what she had gone through, but after hearing about my diagnosis, she decided to share her story with me.

Andrea called me and shared candidly about her experience through cancer. She told me how the chemotherapy might affect my body, my emotions, and my spirit. I had tons of questions and she took the time to answer each one. I hung up the phone with a sigh of relief.

That phone call meant the world to me. It gave me hope that I was not alone. She had walked this road. She had already fought this battle.

Small things with great love.

Andrea saw a need and decided to take action. In my book, it makes her brave and heroic just like Harriett Tubman and Amy Carmichael. Andrea taught me the importance showing selfless love, even when there is a personal cost involved.

The truth is that every woman has something to share to influence others. It might be influencing through advocacy or activism, leading in a time of adversity, or by sharing our personal stories to encourage and uplift.

We must ask, where has God placed us? How can we use our influence to make a difference in this world?

This world needs more women who aren’t afraid to share their voices; Women who will stand up against injustice, love freely, share Christ, show courage, use their platform to make a difference, and who will selflessly share their stories.

My cancer has been in remission for years, but what remains is the memory of that profound conversation with Andrea. The difference she made with one simple phone call.

Small things with great love.

Trina Pockett is a speaker and writer committed to equipping and encouraging women in leadership. Trina currently serves as a Divisional Field Director for Stonecroft Ministries. You can visit her website at You can also learn more about Stonecroft at

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lessons From the Wash and Wag

By Christy Foldenauer

I’ll never forget pulling into a small, one stoplight town for a ministry engagement. I coasted up to the church address, bewildered. The sign on the building read “Wash & Wag.”

Pictures of adorable, groomed canines peeked through the glass at me. Must have the wrong address I thought. Then, I saw it. Right in front of me, in plain daylight—my striking ministry glossy. It was tacked to an A-frame built from two pieces of wood, with the words: This Sunday, Christy Foldenhaur! As I felt my cheeks flush, I whispered thanks that the church misspelled my name. Then I came to the startling conclusion, “This church meets…in a Wash & Wag.” Slinking back down into the driver’s seat of my car, I shook my head, unsure of whether to laugh or cry.

I argued with God. I pleaded for humility and grace in the moment. Finally, I conceded that if he wanted to use me in a Wash & Wag, I would bring my best. I went to meet my host and settled into her basement for the night.

The next morning, I preached on limiting labels. The smell of wet dog permeated the air. Yet, in a very untraditional space, something remarkable happened. People arrived with open and responsive hearts, and God did a work among them. He also began a fresh work in me.

It’s been almost two years since my Wash & Wag experience. Several days ago I stumbled on a book by Henri Nouwen that put words to the heart work that began for me that weekend. In The Selfless Way of Christ: Downward Mobility and the Spiritual Life, Nouwen describes the humility of Christ and asserts, “The divine way is indeed the downward way.”

As Nouwen speaks of the downward pull of the Christian life and the call to humbly serve others, he speaks directly to my own heart. Just like the business world, ministry can quickly become a climb to better and better speaking engagements, places of ministry, and crowds. But following Jesus means being willing to meet at the Wash & Wag where ministry happens for sixty, not six hundred. Humble situation, humble place, humble hearts. . . sounds like Jesus would be right at home. The question is, can I follow his example and become downwardly mobile in my own ministry and life? Can I be as excited about a pulpit the size of a postage stamp as I am about a larger platform?

At the Wash & Wag, I realized that ministry should not be an upward climb. I must embrace downward mobility if I am emulating Jesus. Turns out my ministry glossy never looked better. I took a picture of it all just so I’d never forget the lesson.

Maybe, I’ll get the opportunity to go back there and minister again. I’ve learned this: it would be a great privilege.

Christy Foldenauer is a speaker whose passion is helping others find spiritual wholeness through Christ and influencing women to walk fully in their giftedness. She is pursuing a M.A. in Theological Studies at Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA, while raising three young children with the love of her life. Read her blog and follow her ministry here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Use Your Voice

By Elisa Morgan

You might be thinking....enough about Kenya and HIV/AIDS and TB and Malaria and poverty in the slums of Kibera. Let's get back to the leadership/inspirational/get-me-going content I've come to expect in my Weekly ReFill. I mean, after all, it is MYWeekly ReFill.

Or you might be just developing a hunger to hear more and you're disappointed that I'm already back.

Maybe you missed last week's blog and didn't really know I was in Kenya with ONE.

It could be that you just got annoyed at all the Weekly ReFills in your inbox and you deleted them all without reading them.

Smile. This is the final blog in the series.

Last Friday ONEMoms spent the day with farmers in Nakuru. They've formed a kind of a cooperative where they exchange expertise, pool and save their money and improve their crops to improve and address the issue of malnutrition. Such efforts are vital not only for survival of the families of Kenya, but also to prepare for the inevitable cycle of drought and famine such as Somalia is currently facing.

We toured their farms (shambas), enjoyed a sampling of their many varieties of Irish potatoes and learned how they get their produce to individual sellers such as those on the streets of Kisumu.

Their work ethic is stunning. Their joy and empowerment at their success is contagious. Their eagerness to grow and learn and do more motivates me to do more too.

One woman, in her eighties, pierced me through to the soul with the strength of her eyes. I prayed to bring it home with me as my chief souvenir.

There are more still in my suitcase as I write (I haven't unpacked): Hope for change in Kenya and all of sub-saharan Africa. Respect for the hard-working souls that do their work day after day. Love for moms who are doing their best to care for and train their children for a future. Prayer for God to nudge me as to what more he might want me to do.

As I've asked all along in this series, will you join me? I want to ask you to do three things. They are simple. Please?

Kenya is a deeply spiritual place. The people there know God and love him. My heart yearns for more Christians to become involved in the non-partisan advocacy work of ONE as it partners with those working on the ground such as The Center for Disease Control, USAID, Feed the Hungry and more. They don't want your money. They want your voice. Yet another reason why ONE is such a good fit with FullFill™.

If I know anything, I know women want to use their voices!

Will you use yours?