Three Questions Asked of Every Leader

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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.***

Seven Ways CrossFit Changed My Life

It’s August and I live in central North Carolina, which means it’s rainy, humid and unbearably hot in the gym these days. The white non-descript building located at 318 Main Street has become a staple for me over the past 14 months. At the moment, I’m the only “athlete” in the box so I take advantage of setting up a rower in front of one of the three industrial fans. It won’t be long before the 9:00 a.m. class files in for their daily dose of torture. Oh how I have come to love that hour of tearing muscles and sucking air!images

Confession: I’m slightly obsessed with my CrossFit workouts. I check the Wodify app at 10:00 p.m. every night to read up on the next day’s WOD (workout of the day). I select my workout clothes prior to bedtime and fall asleep dreaming about hitting the red RX+ button. I’m the annoying person in the monthly staff meetings who won’t shut up about reaching a new weight lifting PR. My family thinks I’m crazy; but they love me so they just grin and bear my endless chatter about EMOMs (every minute on the minute) and AMRAPs (as many rounds and reps as possible). My friends think I’ve joined a cult. But CrossFit has filled an important void in my life and changed me in ways I never anticipated.

  1. I’m healthier: Before CrossFit I was taking a Statin drug for high cholesterol and my doctor was considering a trial of high blood pressure medication. In May 2017 I read an article highlighting a frightening truth that went something like this: we gain weight in our 30s, go on medications in our 40s and disease sets in during our 50s. I was 4 months shy of turning 50 so that was all the motivation I needed. I chatted with my doctor and together we agreed CrossFit sounded like a good plan, so he consented to stopping my medications. In June 2017, I joined CrossFit Clayton (CFC). One year later my doctor was quite impressed with my completely NORMAL blood panel and I am medication free!
  2. Weight loss: At 5 ‘4 I was tipping the scales at 151 pounds. I could no longer hide the muffin top that spilled over the waist of my jeans. Within 6 months of joining CrossFit and minor dietary changes, I lost 15 pounds.
  3. Body love: I work hard for the body I now have. I have muscles I haven’t seen since my 20s. I don’t have to suck in my gut and at 50 I wear a two-piece to the beach with confidence. I give no thought to a cute 25 year old showing me up, because I look just as good as her! I have (baby) abs, I look toned and I love my body!
  4. I’m strong: CrossFit is notorious for tough moves like handstand push-ups, muscle ups, snatches, box jumps, etc. It’s taken some time, but I have achieved many of these movements. I can do double unders, toes to bar, regular push-ups, kipping pull-ups, climb a 15 foot rope, run 5 miles without stopping, deadlift more than my bodyweight, climb an 8 foot wall, and do all sorts of weight lifting movements. Sometimes…I pretend I’m Christmas Abbott!
  5. It’s Fun: CrossFit WODS are varied and it might take years to repeat the same workout. They’re fun (in a sadistic sort of way), especially if you like variety, reaching your aerobic threshold quickly and waking to sore muscles daily.
  6. Camaraderie: I have made wonderful and lasting friendships at my local box. I have several comrades I can call on for Spartan and Tough Mudder events. And that grueling Saturday morning partner WOD? No problem with help from a CFC (CrossFit Clayton) buddy! The annual Christmas party is a blast. One of our coach’s facilitates a weekly Bible study. We support each other through pregnancy, marriage, death and all of life’s ups and downs. CrossFit has truly been the Church to me. What would I do without my CFC family?5af8d7555ff1d75a10e479a7
  7. Coaching: At CFC we have a trained and dedicated coaching staff who are invested in helping us reach our fitness and dietary goals. They are accomplished, supportive, knowledgeable and encouraging. My coaches make me want to work harder and reach my goals! Thanks CrossFit!

 

 

Twelve Steps to Facilitate Affair Recovery

affair-recovery-300x200You’ve decided to salvage your marriage after an affair. It’s not going to be easy to sift through the wreckage and there will be no quick fixes. Re-establishing trust after a monumental transgression is grueling, but with grit and determination you can rebuild. The saying, “What you have done, you will do again,” in the context of infidelity means: once a cheater always a cheater. I reject that belief, having one affair is not the same as being a serial cheater.

Of course you don’t have a guarantee that your partner will never cheat again, but you never had a guarantee to begin with. No human is above falling. If you were the faithful spouse, it is crucial you understand the infidelity wasn’t your fault. You are not responsible for your spouse’s actions and poor decisions. There is no magic recipe for healing, but these twelve steps can be instrumental in the process of rebuilding.

  1. Forgiveness– There is nothing fair about forgiveness; it is a costly gift the betrayed spouse offers to the unfaithful one. Healing will take time and you will most likely need the assistance of a counselor. Therapy can help you flesh out the affair narrative and get you the answers you need to move forward in order to forgive.
  2. Recommitment– Commitment is the most important ingredient to a long-term successful relationship. The higher the commitment level, the more likely you will be to stay together when the storm winds blow. Trust can be re-established, love can be revived, but once you throw in the commitment towel, the relationship is essentially dead.
  3. Affair Termination– If the primary relationship is to survive, the affair must be terminated abruptly. No explanation is needed. If you work closely with the affair partner, transfer to another department or change jobs altogether. Block rather than delete phone numbers and email addresses.
  4. Disclosure– As a therapist, I advocate for full disclosure of the affair so the faithful partner can make informed decisions, such as seeing a doctor for STD testing. A word of caution however, you will need to balance your partner’s full disclosure with your ability to cope once the specifics come out. Any communication from the affair partner should be divulged to your spouse immediately.
  5. Secrets– Affairs thrive in secrets and marriages thrive in transparency. When all secrets are on the table, you know who and what you are up against and you are better able to move forward in the healing process. Sharing social media accounts and passcodes for phones, iPads and bank accounts assists in recovering trust. Agree to never change the passwords without consulting with the other partner.
  6. Remembrance– Emerson Eggerichs introduces the 80:20 ratio in his book Love and Respect. This concept says that 80 percent of the marriage can be categorized as good or great while 20 percent is troubling. Many times (pre-affair) couples are focused on everything wrong with each other. As you pursue healing, make a conscious decision to remember the good, get the derailed back on track, forgive the flaws and make new memories.
  7. Romance– You can sabotage your marriage by spending more time on the things that annoy you. In doing so, you water the weeds and strangle the romance. If you want your reconstruction efforts to be fruitful you will have to make a deliberate choice to revive the passion through flirting, laughing, kissing, and when going on dates- staying off the cell phones.
  8. Counseling– Attending weekly sessions will provide you both with the support you need in order to re-launch a better than ever marriage. It also provides a safe place to voice your opinions and concerns about the affair while examining the causes of the unfaithfulness.
  9. Partnership– Marriage is a partnership, which means one person does not hold too much or all of the power. Both parties should contribute meaningfully to the relationship while respecting each other’s contributions.
  10. Grief– One of the best gifts you can give to yourself is permission to grieve the death of your marriage as it was. Set up a support system of friends who will allow you to lament freely. Journaling can provide the outlet to express intense emotions so you do not grow bitter. Whatever you do, stay with your grief work for as long as it takes. There are simply no short cuts.
  11. Boundaries– Trust can be re-established, but getting there will take time, patience and boundaries. Explore those boundaries together so both of you are clear on what you are expecting. If you were the unfaithful spouse, engage a friend or pastor as an accountability partner; your spouse cannot police all of your actions. Finally, commit to a new and higher standard of sexual conduct.
  12. Bonding Time– Initiate a nightly routine of “pillow talk” before going to sleep. This is a good opportunity to strengthen your emotional bond as you recount the day, talk about future plans, pray, or read a devotional together.

In Praise of Female Pastors Part IV: The Interpretation

Silence

The church has used Paul’s words in the following passages to silence women for centuries:

  • Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church (1 Corinthians 14:34-35, NIV).
  • A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet (1 Timothy 2:11-12, NIV).

Did Paul mean to apply these statements (and others like them) to all women for all times or could Paul have been speaking to a particular group in a particular church at a particular time in history to address a particular problem? Women along with children, slaves and the poor assembled in great numbers wherever the gospel was preached. The gospel represented a new message that affirmed their human dignity and worth. Women were not educated beyond their domestic duties in the home during this time so obviously they had no formal training in interpreting the Scriptures. The “women” in the Corinthian Church would have been zealous over their new freedoms in attending church and began disrupting the meetings with their questions and opinions. Paul asked them to quiet down and speak with their husbands at home. He was actually encouraging them to learn and participate, but he wanted order not disunity and disorder.

The Epistles are letters written thousands of years ago. At the time Paul was writing these letters, he was living in a patriarchal society and women held the legal status of slaves; they were not considered worthy to even hear the law read or explained and could not enter the inner courts of the Temple. Although the Bible was written for us, we were not the original audience. If  we want to understand what application the Bible has for our lives today, we must approach it responsibly so we do not dishonor the original intent of the message.

Paul was not restricting women, he was giving them opportunities to sit quietly and learn; something not previously available to them. Paul had a high view of women and acknowledged them as deacons (Romans 16:1), co-workers (Romans 16:3) and apostles (Romans 16:7). Women were vital in Paul’s ministry and were leading, teaching and prophesying in the community at the time Paul was writing these letters. Women were fulfilling Peter’s prophetic words, “In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants- men and women alike- and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:18, NLT). Paul had full knowledge of these female leaders and they had his blessing.

Every Bible study I’ve been a part of used the words of Peter and Paul as the gold standard for a “biblical marriage.”

  • Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Ephesians 5:22-24, NIV).
  • Wives submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them (Colossians 3:18-19, NIV).
  • Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives (1 Peter 3:1-2, NIV).

At the time these letters were written there were Greco-Roman household codes in effect that recognized the hierarchy of male authority in the home. These household codes were part of the Pax Romana law. These teachings from Peter and Paul would have aligned with the laws of their day. We do not have to mirror Greco-Roman culture; we live in America and a marriage model from ancient Middle Eastern culture should not be our standard just because it is biblical. After all, it is biblical to force a woman to marry her rapist (Deuteronomy 22:28-29), it is biblical for a man to have multiple wives (Exodus 21:10), and it is biblical to sell your daughter as a servant (Exodus 21:7).

If you want to know what a God-designed marriage should look like, you only need to go as far as Genesis 1 & 2. In Genesis 2:18 & 20, God made for Adam an ezer kenegdo translated as “strong power.” Eve was created as Adam’s perfect match, neither superior nor inferior. Eve, God’s first daughter was named after our Heavenly Father. Ezer is a name God uses for himself numerous times in the Old Testament in the military context when he is rescuing Israel. So in the context of marriage, the ezer kenegdo is to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her husband and her brothers in ministry. When women are silenced, forced to take a back seat, minimized or downplayed, they are not functioning in the way God intended.

I have a definitive moment in time when God called me to ministry as a minister of the gospel. I have preaching and teaching gifts that have been affirmed by the Church. I have an education and I am ordained. I am an ezer kenegdo, a strong power- a warrior! How can I not preach or teach?  I don’t know about you, but when any human organization, church included conflicts with God, I am going to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). If you know a female pastor, please encourage her- she needs it! If you are a female pastor, God bless you richly!

References:

Bessey, S. (2013). Jesus feminist: An invitation to revisit the Bible’s view of women. Howard Books: New York, NY.

Evans, R.H. (2012). A year of biblical womanhood: How a liberated woman found herself sitting on her roof, covering her head, and calling her husband master. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN.

In Praise of Female Pastors Part III: The Debate

 

In the West, two polarized groups are used for defining the standard roles of women in the context of the home and church: complementarians and egalitarians. For clarity’s sake, complementarians believe that God established a biblical hierarchy by placing men in authority over women and that he calls women to submit to male leadership. Within this view, only men are to assume leadership positions in the church, with women filling in the supporting roles (i.e. administrative assistant, children’s director, nursery, choir, etc.).

On the other hand, egalitarians believe that God does not use gender as the qualifying basis in determining who holds leadership positions within the church- rather it is determined by the gifting and calling of the Holy Spirit. God did not intend to equip his daughters with certain gifts and talents and expect them to bury those talents in the backyard (Matthew 25:14-30); all believers are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21). At the core of this debate is whether or not we believe God has placed restrictions on what women can and cannot do in the home or church or if he has given them freedom in Christ (John 8:36) to use their gifts and answer his irrevocable call (Romans 11:29).

It seems Christians simply cannot agree on this matter- you would think we would agree to disagree. But no, in our desire to be right we are divided and use the Bible as a weapon to argue and prove our interpretation is the right one, even to the point of verbally attacking women who preach from the pulpit. In 2008, Jackie Roese preached her first sermon at Irving Bible Church in Texas before a 3,500 member congregation. She was called a “cancer in the church,” a “dangerous sign,” and a “threat to Christianity.” Members left the church, and others boycotted the service. In essence, we have become enemies of the Gospel. Sarah Bessey hits the nail on the head, “…there is no more hateful person than a Christian who thinks you’ve got your theology wrong” (2013, p. 15).

When I need to remind myself how God feels about women and how he intends for me to use my gifts and calling as a pastor, I can look to the Old Testament or the New Testament for examples: Deborah was a prophet and judge (Judges 4:4), Miriam a prophet and leader in Israel (Exodus 15:20),  and Huldah a prophet in Israel (2 Kings 22:14). There are others, but I want to move to the New Testament. If you hold to the virgin birth [a central tenant in Christianity], it cannot escape us, that God brought his only begotten Son into the world through a woman (Mary), without the physical assistance (in an intimate sort of way) of a man whatsoever. Anna was a prophet (Luke 2:36) who served in the temple where Jesus was circumcised and recognized Jesus as the Savior and Redeemer.

Jesus elevated women and treated them with dignity and respect; he gave them opportunities to learn (Luke 10:39) and share the gospel (John 4:39). There is not a shred of evidence to be found indicating that Jesus thought women were/are subordinate to men. Women loved Jesus, they flocked to him and they were vital in his ministry and indeed, they were last at the cross on Calvary and first at his grave on Resurrection Day.

I will address Paul’s statements on women, submission and silence in Part IV of In Praise of Female Pastors.

References:

Bessey, S. (2013). Jesus feminist: An invitation to revisit the Bible’s view of women. Howard Books: New York, NY.

Cowles, C.S. (1991). In praise of women preachers: An analysis of Paul’s position of women in ministry. Retrieved from http://www.ccel.us/place.praise.html.

Evans, R. H. (2012). A year of biblical womanhood: How a liberated woman found herself sitting on her roof, covering her head, and calling her husband master. Thomas Nelson: Nashville, TN.

James, C. C. (2010). Half the church: Recapturing God’s global vision for women. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI.