Why You Need to Grieve Every Loss

960x0My father was lost in a world of darkness. The chains of mental illness wrapped their wicked fingers around his throat and squeezed until he pulled the trigger on his life. That was January 1977; he was 36. I couldn’t wrap my young brain around that loss for decades. I just felt the colossal void his suicide left in the form of emptiness, pain, and lack. As a 9 nine-year-old child, I didn’t know how to grieve so I stuffed my feelings and lived.

Only it wasn’t that easy.

I had no healthy outlets in which to grieve, so all those stuffed emotions manifested in my behaviors. As a child that looked like poor focus, declining grades, unstable relationships, bed-wetting, and mood swings. As a teenager and young adult, it looked much worse. Let’s leave it at that.

If I could have a conversation with my younger self, this is what I would say to her:

It is okay to grieve and it’s okay to be afraid. Cry, be angry, and wrestle with all the hard feelings. Scream, punch the pillow and ask God why and any other question you want because God is God and he can handle the questions and the anger and anything else you’ve got.

Yes, grief hurts; people fear it, no one likes it because it feels terrible. It takes us by surprise, interrupts our lives, and demands its own way with our emotions and thoughts. But when grief is stuffed, it always finds a way out, like it did when I was a child. When we allow ourselves to acknowledge and feel the pain of loss, we begin the healing process.

Our culture seems to have forgotten how to lament. We will do anything to avoid the work of grief and bypass the pain, yet there is no other way to heal except by way of feeling our emotions. We either stuff our emotions or we numb them using a variety of methods including that fake Pollyanna attitude.

I see this evident at Easter when well-meaning Christians say, “its Friday, but Sunday’s coming!” in a most cheerful tone. No! No, on Good Friday we sit in the silence of the suffering and the truth that Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins and humanity crucified him. Sunday will come, but we must sit in the discomfort of the crucifixion and death of our Lord. That is called grief.

So if someone you love has died- grieve
If someone you trusted betrayed you- grieve
If someone has harmed you- grieve
Whatever your loss- grieve

You need to grieve your losses; not doing so can be detrimental to your mental and emotional health, but don’t do it alone. Reach out to a trusted friend or a professional therapist. We were created for community and you do not have to suffer alone.

This world is subject to torment and bondage and not many will escape without scars. “He was despised and rejected- a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3 NLT). If our Lord Jesus spent time grieving, why do we expect to shrink away from it and just get on with our lives as if this terrible thing has not happened?

 

3 Major Barriers to Reading the Bible

Blurred-Vision

During my late teens, I began experiencing slight vision changes. Objects were blurry and distorted. Simple tasks like reading, writing, and facial recognition became a bit challenging, but I compensated by squinting and holding my books and papers closer to my nose. Since the vision changes were gradual they didn’t register as a concern until I could no longer read speed limits and road signs. That’s when I figured it was time to see an Optometrist, who diagnosed the blurriness as myopia and prescribed eyeglasses.

Turns out those fluttery green things on the trees outside my window were leaves. I could even read license plates on the cars in front me for the first time (ever) and I recognized people before they appeared directly in front of me! My world got a lot clearer that day. Because of my stubbornness, it took two years before I admitted I might need glasses and in that time frame I missed a lot of important things, like leaves and friendly smiles. Those details were always there; they were just in my blind spot.

We also encounter a few blind spots when we read the Bible. If we as Bible readers are to do the hard work of responsible interpretation, we must do so knowing there will always be three major obstacles:

1. Language- Most of us take a foreign language in high school; I took French, it’s a beautiful language and not too difficult to learn until you start conjugating verbs. Much goes without being said in any language, so we do well to remember that when we read the Bible in our native language, mostly just the words have been changed, what is behind those words that does not translate such as cultural values, assumptions and habits has not changed. Failing to recognize this causes huge mistakes in reading and applying Scripture. Language is a major barrier that even scholars and translators struggle with.

Every Bible reader is a translator on some level as well and if we are to be good translators, we must take the time to study so we do not carelessly quote Scripture or take it out of context. Fortunately, translators have already done the difficult work of translating the Bible into your native tongue, but they often have to make choices as to what the original authors were trying to communicate. Their choices can sometimes miss the mark, not to mention their selections affect how you understand what you read so we are all in a sense at their mercy. For this reason, it is a good idea to have more than one Bible translation on hand.

2. Culture- reading the Bible is a cross-cultural experience. Grammar, syntax, ethnicity and social class not only reflect but determine how people in a culture think and speak. Our culture shapes our worldview, which in turn determines how we form our beliefs and make our decisions. Our worldview is powerful enough that it even tells us what to notice or not to notice. We read, study and interpret more than two thousand years after the close of the biblical canon. Biblical culture is radically different from our own, yet we impose our modern cultural standards and ideas on the Bible.

3. Social Mores- pronounced mawr-eyz, it is the term for social behaviors that are accepted without question and represent the moral views of a group. Often we assume that what goes without being said in our language and culture also goes without being said in other languages and cultures, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Mores differ from place to place, are not necessarily permanent and can change over time within the same culture.

There is so much more that could be said about these barriers, but that is not the scope of this article. Guess you’ll have to get my book (when it’s published)!

These obstacles are not the only ones, but they are the most significant and if ignored, prevent us from reading the Bible correctly and that can lead to a misapplication of Scripture. Christians who do not acknowledge these barriers do themselves and the ones they influence a great disservice.

 

References:

Alice Matthews, Gender Roles and the People of God: Rethinking What We Were Taught About Men and Women in the Church

Randolph E. Richards and Brandon J. O’Brian, Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible

Sitting With the Broken: Part II

1-nQGzxC5iuilfC9eDnMOV6QDuring an intake session, a new client reported multiple traumas along with an eating disorder. When I asked if she had received treatment for the eating disorder, she stated she had seen a church counselor about ten years earlier. “Basically I was given Scripture to quote whenever I felt the urge to restrict my food or purge it after eating.” “Do you still restrict your calories or purge your food after you eat?” I inquired, “Yes, when I’m stressed or thinking about the past I won’t eat and sometimes when it gets bad, I purge.” She replied. In her third session with me, she reported moderate to severe depression and “not feeling like myself anymore,” with thoughts of dying. She let me know she was afraid to take medication because her time in church counseling taught her that taking an antidepressant was not biblical.

I recommended she see her medical provider anyway where she was promptly started on an antidepressant. “I don’t know what the Bible says about that (medication), but I’m starting to feel better.” That is not the first time a client has expressed concern about the Bible’s message on taking medication. Actually, the Bible says absolutely nothing about taking an antidepressant or any other medication for that matter. Surely sufferers in biblical days used whatever modern healing methods were available to them. However, since those healing methods are not stated explicitly, we assume medication is sinful and to be avoided, complicating matters further.

Instead of the church being part of my client’s healing, they were part of her trauma. The person who tried to help her was unqualified and my client’s illness was prolonged for an additional ten years because she did not receive the necessary treatment. Quoting Bible verses does not heal trauma, mental illness or eating disorders. While it is acceptable to give an ailing parishioner Scripture to quote, church leadership can best serve its congregation by referring folks who need more than spiritual growth to professionals.

If you lead a church ministry and you do not know any licensed mental health professionals in your community, endeavor to change that today. Do a Google search for providers in your area, check out Psychology Today, ask local primary care physicians who they refer their patients to and then get to know them over a cup of coffee or lunch. You might even ask if they are willing to offer a presentation on mental illness to your congregation.

I refer to mindless quoting of Scripture and bad theology (e.g. taking Scripture out of context, using it as a weapon, poor interpretation, or trite spiritual sayings) as roadblocks to the healing process. People should not be made to feel guilty because they need medication or therapy for a mental or emotional condition. That is a personal choice and does not make them weak or less of a Christian for doing so. You do not want to be the friend who discourages a depressed individual from taking their Prozac and two weeks later, end up at their funeral. Obviously, all medications have side effects that have to be considered, but when the benefits outweigh those side effects and they give suffering people their lives back, who are we to judge their decision?

We should strive to facilitate healing, not hinder it by minimizing suffering or offering skills we have not been trained to use.

 

Sitting With the Broken: Part I

why-god-allows-suffering-world-plagued-human-sufferingOn a crisp November evening just before bedtime, my phone alerted me to a new text. “I just got a phone call, my daughter died in a car accident today.” I stood frozen by shock searching for something of value to say to this grieving father. A wave of sadness swept through my body as I eked out a feeble, “I am so sorry.” I wondered how my client who was not on good terms with his adult child would fare. This particular client had already been through so much tragedy in his life, but he was putting in the effort each week to address the toll childhood trauma had taken on his emotions and closest relationships.

Now this.

I have visited that nightmare before. That place of suffering where I sit with a friend or client whose child has just died. Their loss so raw and heavy it sits as an entity between us. It’s like walking among the catacombs where there is no light, no life, only darkness. There are no words of comfort one can offer, no Bible verse to fix the situation, just the warmth of human presence and commitment to help shoulder a burden.

During such times of loss, it is not uncommon for Christians to mindlessly quote Scripture or offer trite sayings “Sad for us here, but what a welcome they received in heaven,” “We should celebrate they are with Jesus,” “God won’t give you more than you can handle” “Everything happens for a reason.” These responses while perhaps well meaning minimize the pain and agony of human loss and this is where Christians get it wrong.

Clients come to counseling in all stages of their grief. They are vulnerable, anxious and fearful. Sometimes dreadfully afraid to face blocked emotions, closet skeletons and family secrets. As a therapist, I am here to provide a safe space for them to grieve and heal, but I do not sprinkle Bible verses around like pixie dust. If I do quote the Bible I do so responsibly and in context.

Trauma’s impact to the body and brain is profound. It literally reshapes the brain and body; it compromises the capacity to trust, engage in pleasurable activities and maintain self-control. Trite sayings, shallow remarks and throwing Scripture at someone who has endured a traumatic experience contributes to retraumatization.

It is better to say nothing than to offer a careless response. Remember, Job’s friends were helpful until they opened their mouths, “I have heard many things like these; you are miserable comforters, all of you!” (Job 16:2, NIV). Since the intent of reading the Bible is to apply what has been read, it’s vital we take the time to study it in context. Misapplied Scripture not only weakens what the original authors were communicating, the entire meaning of the passage can be lost, it fuels legalism, creates bondage and continues the cycle of harm to self and others.

 

 

Failure Doesn’t Get the Last Word

images-1The most abysmal failure of my life was the time I planted and pastored a church and after four years of loving, nurturing and pouring my whole self into it, it died. I’ve succeeded at so many things, but this thing I could not do. In 2015, just one year into the church plant, my marriage weathered its toughest storm. That crisis tormented my soul and sucked away at my mortal energy.

My focus was everywhere except growing and pastoring the flock. I never regained my momentum and after a series of losses, it was glaringly apparent I could no longer lead these people. So, in August 2018, we closed the doors and my family joined another Nazarene church; now I support someone else’s ministry.

I spent the better part of a year nursing those wounds and trying to recover from that failure. I told myself I was done being a pastor. I removed the title from my resume, social media and website, donated over 100 theological books to the local thrift store and set about to ignore anything God would have to say to me on the topic.

Fortunately, I’ve done a lot of healing since that time and decided that verse about “the gifts and call of God being irrevocable” (Romans 11:29) is probably true (insert big toothy grin here). While I don’t aspire to be the lead pastor again, I do want to preach because women need to see women in the pulpit preaching and leading. I spoke at a ladies retreat three weeks ago and I’ve started writing again. I’m definitely in a different headspace and better able to frame that failure. In fact, I really don’t even see it as a failure anymore because it’s hard to call something a failure when I learned so much from it.

Which brings me to the main point here: failure doesn’t get the last word.

Failure doesn’t mean I didn’t accomplish anything, it means I learned something.
Failure doesn’t mean I was a fool, it does mean I had enough faith to try.
Failure doesn’t mean I’ve been disgraced, it means I dared to move forward.
Failure doesn’t mean I don’t have what it takes, it means I have to do something in a different way.
Failure doesn’t mean I’m inferior, it means I am not perfect.
Failure doesn’t mean I’ve wasted my time or life, it means I have an excuse to start all over again.
Failure doesn’t mean I should give up, it means I should reload.
Failure doesn’t mean I’ll never make it, it means I need more patience.

Failure doesn’t get the last word!

 

 

 
References: John Maxwell Podcast, Failure isn’t Final

Crossing the Terror Barrier

imagesHow I loathe coming against the terror barrier, it’s…well, it’s terrifying! What is the terror barrier you ask? It is the invisible obstacle that separates the comfort zone from the growth zone and it’s excruciating to cross. The comfort zone is predictable, cozy, safe, easy and in my opinion very boring. The growth zone is unpredictable, risky, and vulnerable, but it can be thrilling like a roller coaster ride.

You know you’re approaching the terror barrier when you get a new idea about a dream or goal you want to pursue, but suddenly you are filled with anxiety, fear, worry and dread. You might ask yourself, “What if I fail?” “What if everyone hates my idea?” “What if they reject me?”

At this point, most people are reluctant to step out and act on their new idea due to fear. Anyone who has ever accomplished anything of value has come up against the terror barrier but they channeled their fear appropriately and moved through it. I have recently opened the door to the terror barrier and I am trying to find the courage to walk through.

I’m petrified.

On one hand, I don’t want to turn back but I can’t stay where I am at, so I have to cross and get to the other side where freedom lives.

I’m working on this project that is bigger than me. It’s demanding of my time and energy. It’s above my education level and beyond my subject knowledge. Yet I feel compelled to move forward with the project. It feels like giving birth from my soul.

I know how to get what is needed to accomplish the final goal. I can figure out the direction in which I need to go. I have access to resources and I can visualize myself achieving this dream.

The “project” is a book about the desperate need for women to properly see ourselves in the Bible as something more than ancillary figures who submit to their husbands and bear children. The Bible is chock-full of inspirational women who were preachers, warriors, apostles and strong leaders.

The modern woman needs to hear and understand more about who those women were and what they did for the kingdom so they can see for themselves how they fit into God’s story.

Eve holds the key to our identity in the story of God. When we grasp her true calling and who she was created to be, we are then able to make better sense of the entire Bible and all those controversial passages about women.

I will share insights from my personal and professional experiences as a pastor and therapist and teach my readers how they inadvertently bring personal and cultural biases to the table when engaging the Bible.

God is my helper, I know that. It doesn’t take away the fear though and sometimes I wonder, “Will people take me seriously?”

Eve: The Mighty Strong Power

imagesThe Bible is an ancient collection of sacred scriptures. It was written in another culture, at another time, to a different audience and by men who spoke another language. Most people tend to forget this when they “read the Bible for all it’s worth.” They sit, they read, they elucidate and then apply a biblical solution to a 21st century issue based on their personal level of understanding.

The lens through which they interpret is the one of their own race and culture. The average Christian will rarely research the original language, syntax and culture or question the author’s original intent.

If we neglect to consider the cultural and language differences of the Bible, we miss something important the authors have to say and sometimes we miss the entire point of the passage. Since no language translates verbatim into another language, many Hebrew and Greek words in the Bible can lose their original meaning and power during the translation process.

Enter Eve

Lets consider for a moment the words “helper suitable” from Genesis 2:18:

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Various versions of the Bible also record: suitable helper/helpmeet/helpmate/helper fit/aide fit/suitable partner/helper comparable.

Up until this point in Scripture God has declared all things “good,” now he makes this startling statement in Genesis 2:18: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” The word “helper” used in this verse in the Hebrew is ezer. Ezer means: to rescue/to save/to be strong. When these two words “helper suitable” are translated together you get ezer kenegdo and there are only two options when translating them into English: mighty strong helper or mighty strong power.

ezerrThe word ezer is a military term that God uses as his own name throughout the Old Testament to describe how God comes through for his people in times of great difficulty. God says “I will be your Ezer Israel,” “I will rescue you!” God gave THAT name to Eve and we are her daughters, therefore we are ezers too! God could have given Eve the Hebrew name for wife, but he did not. He could have given Eve the Hebrew name for assistant, but he did not. He could have given Eve the Hebrew name for aide, but he did not.

When rephrased based on this new understanding you can read:

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a mighty strong power for him.”

Stated this way, there is not a hint of inferiority in this passage, yet throughout Christian history, Eve has often been presented as a subordinate helper to Adam. I would say something vitally important has been lost along the way.

The word helper in English means: teammate, aide, supporter, colleague. The problem with those words is that none of them were the Hebrew word used in Genesis 2:18. The word that was used was ezer: mighty strong power! That was Eve’s first name and she was named ezer because that is the name God wanted her to have.

In Genesis 3 the ezer did something totally unexpected of a mighty strong power. Eve sinned. She did a “thing” she listened to the lies of the serpent, was deceived, ate the fruit from the tree she knew she should not be eating from. Immediately, she had a new awareness she didn’t have before and she suddenly feels that warm wash of shame, then came all the blame.

It was then that the relationship began to crumble. Now the equal partnership between the adam and the ezer was broken until Jesus came to reconcile the relationships between humanity and God and men and women. The statement “and he will rule over you” in Genesis 3:16 is a consequence of sin. God was NOT making a new command whereby wives should be under the authority of their husbands, it was a proclamation that this would be the new marital dynamic. Patriarchy became the norm after the fall, but it was never commanded and endorsed by God.

So my friends, it is time to reclaim our identity as ezers! There is no hierarchy in Christ. There is no God then husband then wife for God created husband and wife to stand shoulder to shoulder with one another as co-leaders and co-heirs in Christ and that is GOOD NEWS!IMG_3846

Being an ezer should not only be good news to women, it should be good news to men too because this means men do not have to take on the full weight of the home and world on their shoulders. Sisters, as the ezer you get to share that burden!

 

 

References: Reclaiming Eve, Vindicating the Vixens, Ezer Rising

The Headaches of Late Cancellations and No-Shows

imagesAnyone who works in an industry where you only get paid if your appointments show up, knows the frustrations that come with late cancellations and no-shows. I am a licensed professional counselor working in a community based counseling practice. I typically book six to eight sessions per day. Some days, all of those sessions hold and other times I can get up to five cancellations in a single day.

If the client is a no-show or does not provide sufficient notice, our practice charges a $50 fee, but there is really no legal recourse in collecting that money. Even if the client pays the fee, it still falls short of the amount I could have made if the session held. Some of my clients pay the fee, but their behaviors don’t change. They continue to miss appointments or cancel at the last minute and tell me “Just charge my card for the late fee if you have to.” Other clients disregard the fee and stop coming to counseling. I’ve also had a handful of people ask for a waiver because they had an emergency and forgot to call. But emergencies only constitute a very small portion of my late cancellations and no-shows.

Non-emergency late cancellations and no-shows represent lost revenue to the therapist and the practice. Therapists do not typically get paid unless the therapy session is held and most therapists in community based counseling pay a split or percentage of their earnings to the practice owner for administrative support. But late cancellations and no-shows aren’t just frustrating for the therapist and the practice they are missed opportunities to provide care to other clients who needed and wanted to be seen.

As a professional counselor, I work hard to deliver value to every client in every session. I have to, or I will not remain in business long. I have to be at the top of my game at all times. “Rent” is due every hour and if there is ever a time I do not add value to a client, you can believe they won’t return. So I try to use those days where I only hold two or three sessions as opportunities for professional development. I read a book, listen to a podcast or attend a coaching call with one of my mentors.

But I digress, if you are one of those people who cancel at the last minute or just don’t show to your appointments for whatever reason, please do the courteous thing and make a phone call, send an email or text to cancel within the practice guidelines (which your provider is required to go over with you during the intake). This makes it easier to get folks in who have been on the waiting list or are in an active crisis.

Three Questions Asked of Every Leader

images

One of my first jobs out of graduate school was at a psychiatric facility. I worked in the admissions department taking crisis calls and admitting new patients into the hospital. My immediate supervisor was good enough, but her boss? Well she was another story! I will refer to her as “Angie.” Angie was insecure and lacked basic people skills for the position. She yelled at people, grabbed things out of their hands, ignored us when she was upset, reprimanded employees (in front of others) who didn’t report to her, solicited validation from her direct reports, stomped around the office and almost never smiled.

Her style was “lead by intimidation,” you never knew what you were going to get. No one liked her and no one was following her. I believe if you are the leader and you have no followers, you’re just taking a walk. Angie was definitely taking a walk, but I’m not sure she knew where she was going. I’m not even sure she liked people. She had no vision for her team, no one trusted her, she didn’t offer to help unless it benefited her and if she cared for any of us, we never knew it.

Angie’s leadership (or lack thereof) exposes a profound truth: you can’t lead people unless you like people. People give you permission to be their leader and before they do that, they need to know you care about them. In fact, every follower has three implicit questions of their leader. Review these questions and ask yourself “How am I demonstrating this to the people I lead?”

1. Can you help me? No one ever advances to the top by themselves. There is always someone there who helps develop them and assist in the advancement of their career. People look to their leaders for development and help in advancing their careers too. As the leader, what are you doing to help advance the careers of the ones you lead?

2. Do you care about me? I don’t know anyone who wants to work for a person or company who doesn’t care about them. Folks want to work for someone who has a true interest in them as an individual. Take the time to interact with your team, get to know who they are, who their family is and how they feel cared for. You should know your team well enough to lead them in the way they want to be led. No doubt you’ve heard of the Golden Rule, but the Platinum Rule applies here: lead people in the way they need to be led.

3. Can I trust you? Trust is the foundation of the leader/follower relationship. Dr. Henry Cloud says that trust is like a brick wall that must be constructed brick by brick over a long period of time, but if it is breached, the wall comes crashing down and must be rebuilt brick by brick again over time. So, avoid things that destroy trust, they are often the unintentional things like not doing what you said you would do, not listening, not helping and not being authentic.

References: John Maxwell, The Five Levels of Leadership

 

Does Your Communication Style Need to Shift?

Leader-CommunicationAhhhh 1990, the age of perms, pleats, shoulder pads and pantyhose. It was also the year I attended my first supervision training while working for one of the nation’s largest banks. The training lasted two half-days and covered performance review writing, hiring and firing, a sprinkle of communication here and there and the proper dress code for managers. That’s it! No mention of personal development or leadership skills. On the job training consisted of me running back and forth between my small team and my manager for guidance. I figured out the rules as I went along, I had no clue how to lead those people and it showed!

It wasn’t entirely my fault though, those were pre-Internet days and most training courses and personal development books focused only on basic manager skills. John Maxwell’s, Developing the Leader Within You would not be written for another three years, and the organization I worked for had not yet shifted its focus from management to leadership.

My early leadership style was insecure. I had no long range vision, little trust from my team and I thought the people needed me more than I needed them. I had been trained to lead from the typical top down with the strategy of barking orders and issuing commands to get things done, until that is, I learned a more effective way.

John Maxwell says, “Leadership moves at the speed of trust.” Trust has to be earned, it is not automatically given just because the leader holds a certain title; most people know this already. But what is not widely understood is that you, the leader, must shift from directing to connecting in order to gain that trust from your followers. Connecting with people is essential not only for establishing trust, but also in order to achieve organizational goals.

Review the columns below and see where you find yourself and if needed, make the necessary shift today. Being directional isn’t necessarily a bad thing, sometimes the position of leadership calls for this communication style, but if you want your people to win, you will need to stretch yourself and become a connector because good leaders always want their people to win!

Connector Director
Conversational Directional
Collaborative Authoritative
Mainly listens Does all the talking
Side by side Top down
Empowers Enlists
Understanding Assuming
Asks questions Gives answers
“Your” agenda “My” agenda
“Your” ground “My” ground
All about you All about me
I sit with you I stand, you sit

Who Are You Leading?

My husband and I were recently discussing the concept of leadership over sushi and wine at our favorite Asian fusion restaurant when he asked me an interesting question, “Who are you leading?” I took a moment for thoughtful consideration of the question and answered: “Well, I am leading the most difficult person in the world…me! I am also leading my kids, and every person who enters my therapy office for counseling.”

John Maxwell defines leadership as influence- nothing more, nothing less. Leadership is not a title or position and sometimes the person with all the influence in the organizatiLeadership Concepton is not even the one with the title. The person with the most influence could be the one with the least power.

So often we complicate this term and ascribe meaning to it that simply does not fit. For example, in most of my conversations with people, I hear the term manger in place of leader, but the two are not synonymous. Think of it this way: you manage things, but you lead people.

And good leadership starts with you! You see, I can lead my peers, I can lead those who report to me and I can even lead the ones to whom I report, but if I cannot lead myself why in the world would anyone want to follow me?

Leading yourself well means:

You are coachable- you know how to follow as well as lead
You are accountable to someone- you have a mentor
You are self-disciplined- you know when to ask for help and take appropriate measures to self-educate and/or self-correct
You pursue patience- and are not prone to outbursts of anger
You hold yourself to a higher standard- you refrain from self-indulgence and strive for excellence

You are the hardest person you will ever lead and you are the most important person you will ever lead and leading yourself is one of the most important things you will ever do as a leader.

***Jenny Compton is a certified leadership coach, teacher and speaker with the John Maxwell Team.***

2019: The Year of Consistency

Happy-new-yearEvery January I make the same promise to myself: publish more articles for my blog site. As fate would have it, life steps in the way and writing is relegated to the back burner. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on why I have a blog site in the first place. It’s not like I have a ton of followers waiting with bated breath for my next story and I certainly can’t compete with all those millennial mommies out there writing on interesting topics about their “littles.” I’m just a regular person living an average life, or so I thought…until a new friend walked into my life.

My new friend and I met for breakfast on the last Saturday of December. She’s no nonsense, direct with a splash of unintentional humor; She’s my kind of person! She’s a passionate communicator and wants to share with others the differences her white son and black son have experienced in the educational system. I encouraged her to keep pressing on because the world needs her perspective. It was during that conversation that I realized how valuable my own voice is to the world.

This blog is first and foremost my outlet and space for healing from all that life throws at me. Thanks to navigating some (major) negative life events in 2018, I am prepared to be more authentic and true to myself in my writing, I get to be more opinionated and best of all I get to write on controversial topics and I don’t have to worry much about the backlash!

Initially I thought that whole “sum up the new year in one word” thing was a bit cheesy, but I’ve changed my mind- I’m doing it! My one word for 2019 is CONSISTENCY. In the coming weeks and months I’m going to consistently use my voice to speak truth and life through the written word. Happy New Year everyone!