Category Archives: Purpose

How I Let Ugliness Into My Life

In December 2012, the owners of the company I was working for chose to replace the Chairman of the Board, the CEO, and the CFO. At the time I worked directly for the CEO as his Chief of Staff and right-hand woman. Because of that, when the CEO was let go, my position was eliminated. I was given the option of remaining with the company, but in a different role and capacity. Ultimately, I chose to leave. I felt it was a divinely orchestrated event and that it was time for me to move on.

I left the company with some resentment, particularly because of how I was treated by the owners. Truthfully, my feelings were hurt. I had devoted significant time, energy, and effort to help their company succeed and their response to my blood, sweat, and tears was nothing more than what they owed me; no handshake or pat on the back, not even a thank you.

The experience was a difficult one, but what was even more difficult was dealing with my own response to the situation and the ugliness that crept into my life.

As the days and months moved forward I found myself being in a place where I was wishing for their failure, not so much the failure of the people in the company, but the company as a whole. I wanted their failure because to me that would signify that they weren’t able to make it without me, that my contribution to the company was literally what made it successful. Now, I know that’s pretty grandiose thinking, especially considering that I was just one of 3,500 employees. But, I wanted to believe that my significance to the company was that great; that I was needed that much.

As I started to recognize and process this ugliness, I realized that it stemmed from my sense of belonging being founded on shaky ground, and it was creating insecurity in me. It donned on me that I had been looking to this company and its owners to meet my need for belonging; that a part of my identity had become rooted in who I was as a result of who I worked for and how much I was relied upon to keep the ship afloat.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that receiving satisfaction from a job well done is wrong, I’m simply saying that we shouldn’t place an expectation on other people to meet our basic needs, like belonging. John Maxwell says that it is God’s responsibility to provide for those needs, not another person’s responsibility.

In my reading today for the #LentChallenge, I saw what insecurity looks like when it’s out of control. Herod, King of Judea, was so threatened by the birth of Christ, the King of the Jews, that he had every male child under the age of two, in Bethlehem and its surrounding areas, put to death. Herod’s insecurity caused him to use his power to serve himself and to only be concerned with his image and his livelihood.

Though I’m sure I’ll continue to battle with insecurity from time to time, my experience taught me that true peace is found in relying on God and finding my worth through who I am, not what I do.

When have you faced insecurity?

The True Meaning Of Lent

The majority of my formative years were spent in a charismatic conservative Christian church. Palm Sunday and Good Friday were pretty big deals and definitely had attention given to them, but the majority of the attention was given to Easter. Overall it made sense, given that in evangelical circles the emphasis is on the celebration and the rejoicing, and the triumph of Christ rising from the dead, and the beautiful symbolism of His followers not having to face eternal death but being able to have eternal life. I am truly grateful for the truths laid in my heart because of my upbringing, but it was not until I was 34 years old that I actually encountered Lent and its true meaning.

I had heard of Lent and knew that it had some connection with Mardi Gras, and some connection to why people didn’t eat meat or gave up smoking, but there really wasn’t much that I knew beyond that. I know, call me sheltered and unaware, but I just didn’t know anyone for whom it was a part of his or her life.

Then, while I was in Oxford, England attending and speaking at a conference I had the opportunity to attend the Ash Wednesday service at Exeter College in their breathtaking Victorian Gothic chapel. As I sat in that room filled with its magnificent carved woodwork and stained glass, I listened to a message that brought me to an understanding of Lent beyond, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.”

I came face to face with a season intended for preparation.

The traditional focus of Lent, the forty days from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday, is as a commemoration of the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the desert. And though that focus, of doing what Jesus did, is admirable, it seems as though why He did what He did has been lost in the tradition and ritual of it all.

As I sat listening to the readings from the books of Isaiah and Matthew, I was reminded that the purpose of Christ’s 40 days of prayer and fasting in the desert was to prepare Him for the days that were ahead of Him as He entered His time of ministry. John Maxwell refers to Jesus’ time in the desert as a “screening process,” a time to see if He had what it was going to take.

Since that awakening on Ash Wednesday four years ago, I have purposefully chosen to participate in the Lent season, but with a different focus than that of the traditional focus. For me it start on Ash Wednesday with a time of prayer and confession and posturing myself in a way that acknowledges my humanity and my need for forgiveness, and then moves into 40 days of specific focus on preparation, preparation for the next season that God is moving me into. John Maxwell says that it is during this season that “our motives get purified, our backbone solidifies, and our calling gets clarified.” Each year I have found myself truly prepared by God for what was around the next bend.

This Lent I have joined in with a group of people who are all seeking to be prepared by God through the 40-day season in a special way. Led by author, teacher, and speaker, Margaret Feinberg, we will be reading through the New Testament of the Bible, from Matthew through Revelation, as our #LentChallenge. I am ready and expectant for God to use this season to prepare me for whatever lies ahead, and am truly grateful that God showed me the true meaning of Lent.

Would you like to join us?

Finally…Good Reasons For Valuing Accountability

Earlier this week I joined the monthly Champion’s Edge webinar by Building Champions. One of their executive coaches, Dan Foster, led us through six steps of accountability with the ultimate goal of learning how to harness the power of accountability.

I have to admit, I joined the webinar wondering if I was going to come to the end of the 30 minutes and feel like I had wasted my time. Not because of Dan, he is an exceptionally experienced coach and a pretty smart guy, and I knew he’d share some practical and meaningful thoughts. But, because of the topic.

I mean seriously, when have you ever gotten excited about being told that you need to be more accountable or have more accountability in your life? Accountability has become something of a four-letter word. Take a look at the definition of accountable, “required to explain actions or decisions.” Wow! Isn’t that frightening? Sounds like something you’re super excited to sign-up for, right?!

Well, I spent the 30 minutes listening to what Dan had to say and as I’d hoped, he did not disappoint, and my time was anything but wasted.

He did a great job of articulating the steps of accountability, as taught through the Building Champions methodology, and how it all starts with being accountable to yourself. But, what I love about what he shared, even though he didn’t specifically itemize them or draw special attention to them, was that he gave a really solid argument for why be accountable; why is accountability valuable; what do we stand to gain by being accountable. And, hallelujah, his reasons weren’t the typical cliché ones that I’ve heard my whole life about keeping you honest, or making you trustworthy, or teaching you responsibility. Not that those aren’t important, they are very important; they’re table stakes. But, for once I heard arguments for the value of accountability that actually got me excited to be accountable. Finally, I was given reason to be motivated beyond duty and obligation. Here is what Dan shared, in his words, more or less:
1) Being accountable to yourself and others enables you to be more purposeful.
2) Being accountable to yourself and others enables you to be more intentional.
3) Being accountable to yourself and others provides added motivation.
4) Being accountable to yourself and others provides an opportunity for you to be challenged and stretched.
5) Being accountable to yourself and others provides an opportunity for you to be encouraged.
6) Being accountable to yourself and others allows you to learn more about yourself and discover your unique purpose and contribution.
7) Being accountable to yourself and others equips you to build your vision for who you want to be and where you want to go.
8) Being accountable to yourself and others allows you to live within your sweet spot, thus enabling you to do what Daniel Harkavy says, “Say no to the good so you can say yes to the great.”
9) Being accountable to yourself and others causes you to respect yourself more, believe in yourself more, and be more self-confident.
10)Being accountable to yourself and others shows others that you can be counted on, which increases their respect for you, which increases the likelihood that they’ll catch your vision and follow your lead.

What I love about this is that it becomes the flywheel that Jim Collins describes in Good to Great. You work through the steps of accountability, which you can go and listen to at buildingchampions.com, and as you work through them the momentum starts increasing, your actions are made on purpose, you say no in a way that shows respect for your plan and your intentions, you see others take note, you notice the difference being made, and as Collins says, “The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn…whoosh!…Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort.” It’s not just doing one of the steps that causes all of this value to be created, it is all of the steps. As Collins says, “It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction.”

So, accountability that produces purpose, intention, motivation, challenge, discovery, vision, focus, self-respect, self-confidence, influence, action, respect, and accolades?? Sign me up! I’m in!

How about you, what would cause you to value accountability?

Why I Failed To Meet The 31-Day 500-Word Challenge

Last month I joined with a group of over 1,500 people who sought to meet a challenge, issued by author and entrepreneur, Jeff Goins, to write at least 500 words each of the 31 days of January. The first 22 days were a success, and then the 23rd of January arrived, and I didn’t write again for the rest of the month.

I was upset with myself and actually cried about not completing the challenge, which is an unusual response for me. My pride was wounded as I thought about not wanting to be labeled as a quitter or as someone who didn’t finish something she started. I thought about the excuses that I could give for why I didn’t finish and then I thought about ignoring it altogether and not even drawing attention to the fact that I had failed to meet the challenge. But, over the last two weeks I have come face to face with the real reason why I failed and realized that if I don’t share it, that I will not just be failing myself but I will be failing you as well.

In the Old Testament of the Bible we are introduced to Samson, who rules as a judge over Israel for over twenty years. We are told, even before he is conceived, that Samson will be used by God, that his life is committed unto God. Judges 13:24-25 tell us that Samson is blessed by God and that the Spirit of the Lord is moving on his life. Throughout his early adulthood years, we are shown several instances where the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson. It becomes clear, at least to us as the reader, that Samson’s strength comes from the Lord, that it is a gift from God to him. It is not until Samson tells Delilah his secret about his hair never having been cut, and she deceives him and has his hair cut and hands him over to the Philistines, that he too learns that his strength was really from the Lord and was not his own.

In not completing the 31-day writing challenge, I was brought face to face with my own strength and its source, just as Samson was. I’m in no way claiming that I have been blessed by God in the way that Samson was, but I have realized that when I tried to write through my own strength, through my own power, that I failed miserably.

During the writing challenge I started by committing each writing session to God and really seeking His direction and guidance as to what to write about. Then, somewhere in the process I started to try and write through my own strength based on my own thoughts, ideas, and observations, and on January 23rd I fell flat on my face. It took about a week for me to even be able to recognize that this was the real reason for my failure. I moved from a place of depending on God for strength and for the words to write, to depending on my own strength and writing based on what I felt like I wanted to write, and that is how I failed. I allowed pride and arrogance to drive me and failed to acknowledge God as my source.

I imagine (and hope) that I’m not the only one who has ever been the cause of her failure; how have you done so in your life?

How Is Your Footing?

A friend of mine made the decision to leave the company she works for, but she was struggling with the timing of giving her notice because she still had a number of commitments that she had made to the organization and didn’t know if she needed to wait to give her notice until she had completed the work for those commitments. Though she was ready to move on, she felt in her heart that the testimony and witness she would leave without completing those commitments would be a bad one and that it would likely damage or un-do any seeds that had been successfully planted during her tenure with the company. She felt that completing the commitments would prove her integrity and credibility and thus strengthen her witness of the love of God and the faithfulness of God’s people. She was fearful about the potential effects of the decision; she didn’t want the delay in giving her notice to interfere with interviews and other opportunities that might present themselves in the coming days. She knew that her fears had some legitimacy but she also knew that since it was a God-led decision to leave her company that she could trust God to orchestrate the timing perfectly with what He had as the next step for her.

Psalm 37:23 tells us that God is not only walking with us in our decisions but that we can trust Him to order and establish our footholds, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him” (NIV).

The words from this scripture come from King David, who knew all too well a situation similar to my friend’s. When King David was just an adolescent, somewhere between 11-15 years old, he learned that he was to become king, but immediately after receiving that information he went back to being a shepherd for his father’s flock, and then he spent years in the king’s palace and was hunted by King Saul because Saul wanted to bring death upon the one who was to take over his throne. It was not until David was about 30 years old that he actually became king and fulfilled the anointing that was spoken of him at least 15 years prior.

A similar situation can be found in the life of Mary. Mary, a teenage young woman who had never known a man, accepted God’s call upon her life that she was to be the one woman chosen from all of womankind to give birth to, and raise, the Messiah. Certainly she accepted the charge as any of us hope that we would have, but think about all that she didn’t know at the time of her affirmative response. She didn’t know that her own family and community would not believe that Christ was who He claimed to be and would turn against Him. She didn’t know that He would be mocked and spat upon and that she would watch Him die a criminal’s death. Though scripture doesn’t say specifically, we can safely assume that during the 40 days that Jesus spent on earth between the resurrection and the ascension that Mary actually spent time with Jesus. When she told Gabriel, “May it be as you have said”, she probably never thought she would walk and talk with her son as the Risen and Living Son of God.

Just as Mary and David did, my friend chose to believe that God has a firm hold on her future, even if she can’t see the end result quite yet.

If you believed the words of Psalm 37:23 to be true for your own life, how might you live differently?

5 Reasons Why It Might Be Time To Resign

A friend of mine is struggling with deciding if it’s time for him to resign from his job or not. His situation made me think about the foundational things that everyone should think about if they’re not sure if they should stay with their employer. Here are the top 5 reasons why you should consider moving on; the first two are really non-negotiable items and the other three are more personal preference.

1. Ethical & Moral Violations – If there are practices consistently being done in the company you work for that are unethical or immoral, and you have either said or done something to try and change them and truly believe that they are not going to change, then you should definitely move on. Too many good employees have been taken down with bad companies out of fear of saying something or out of feeling too loyal to the company and its leaders. 1 Corinthians 15:33 says, “ Don’t let yourselves be poisoned…Bad company corrupts good character” (MSG and NIV). If your situation could bring you into a situation where you could be fooled, deceived, misled, or poisoned, then it’s time to move on.
2. Toxic Leadership – Several words come to mind when thinking of a leader who can be described as toxic: manipulative, undermining, misleading, belligerent, heartless, deceitful, self-centered, unreasonable, disenfranchising, corrupt, destructive, dysfunctional, harmful, intimidating, demeaning, and demoralizing. Professor, author, and expert in leadership and organizational behavior, Jean Lipman-Blumen says that toxic leaders play to “the basest fears and needs of the followers” and create environments that perpetuate competition and “insatiable ambition”, incompetence, backbiting, hubris, and recklessness. The principles of 1 Corinthians 15:33 hold true for an environment of toxic leadership and allow for an easy decision to be made to move on from the company who has such a person in a position of leadership.
3. Misalignment of Social Issues – Does the company value the same things that you value when it comes to social issues, things pertaining to peoples’ rights, privileges, and responsibilities, things pertaining to our care for the planet and stewardship of what we have been entrusted with, and things pertaining to our value and self-worth, and fulfilling our purposes in this life. If, for example, you are a firm believer that companies should match employee donations to social or religious causes and the company you work for just canceled that program, then you need to decide if that misalignment is enough for you to decide that it’s time to move on to another company that shares your values.
4. Lack Of Growth Opportunities – With it being more commonplace for us to change jobs every three years, it is a requirement that our skills and knowledge keep up with these changes. If you are someone who is looking for growth opportunities, whether it is through formal sponsorship or mentorship programs, or through internal promotions, or through formal education tuition payment programs, you need to be at a company that offers these opportunities. If your company does not offer something to assist in meeting this need, then it might be time to move on.
5. Risk Avoidant – You may be someone who values innovation quite greatly and you believe that the only way for your company to succeed is through being willing to risk failure. If you work for a company that sees change as being bad or likes maintaining the status quo, then you’re going to have to consider how important those are to you and if the degrees of separation are so much so that it is time for you to move on to somewhere that is more adventurous and open to change.

Entertaining the potential decision to leave a company is never an easy one, but these five areas to consider should help you to weigh the decision more thoughtfully and be more resolute about your decision. If you do decide to move on, Michael Hyatt has a great podcast: 7 Actions To Take Before You Quit Your Job.

Is there another foundational consideration that you would add when weighing the decision of whether or not to leave a company?

I Have Something Even Better In Mind For You

2013 was a year of changes and transition for me. The owners of the healthcare company I worked for decided it was time to change out the executive leadership team and let go of the Chairman of the Board, the CEO, and the CFO. And, since I worked directly for the CEO as his Chief of Staff, I was given the option of taking another position in the company or leaving altogether.

It was a difficult decision to make. There were loyalties to consider. There were bills to be paid. There were friendships that I knew would end; people I would never see again. There were projects still to be finished and work still to be done. There was a doctoral dissertation waiting to be worked on.

It took about a week to muster up the courage to make the decision, to do what I knew in my heart God was calling me to do, to move on.

I thought I had it all planned out, as to what would happen next, the timeline of when I would get my dissertation proposal finished and start working on actively seeking a new job, and keep everything moving forward.

The time came and multiple fantastic opportunities came my way, but with each one there just was something about them that wasn’t quite right, that despite my eagerness and my desperation, didn’t settle right in my spirit. In some situations the decision ended up being made for me and in other situations I’m the one who drew things to a close.

There were moments of panic. In one such moment a dear pastor friend of mine sent me a note that said, “Remember, you are on the potter’s wheel, and as you are turned on the wheel, the Master Potter is molding and shaping you into the image that He created you to be before the foundation of the world. There are people that your life is destined to help. A purpose your life has yet to fulfill. Though the direction you are to go right now may not be clear, trust that as one door closes that another better and more useful door will open. It is when we are boxed into a corner that we operate at the height of our creativity.”

His words really helped me to “turn a corner” in how I was viewing my situation. I was able to move into a place of greater peace, really believing that God could be trusted with my life, my whole life, every aspect of my life. I began to look at things through God’s eyes, with bigger vision and a deepened perspective.

Author Kristen Strong says that God looks at us in moments, like what I was going through last year and says, “You’re so important to me, I have something even better in mind for you.”

I am still on the potter’s wheel, but now I look upon that position through eyes of humble gratitude rather than eyes of fear.

I wonder…what has the potter’s wheel done to your heart?

Patient Endurance

We’ve all been there. That place of having a vision, having something that we feel compelled to do, called to do, and feeling like it all needs to come to fruition now, that there shouldn’t be any delay. There are certain things that we know have a timeline attached to them that we can’t really speed up no matter how hard we try, like getting a degree or having a baby. But then there are other things that we feel like we can make happen in our own prescribed and desired time, like finding our dream job or getting a promotion or starting our own company or building our clientele.

Sarah Young reminds us that sometimes we create more work and more stress for ourselves when we try to “make things happen before their times have come.” She says that one way we learn of God’s sovereignty is through the timing of events in our lives and that we are better off if we ask for God’s guidance in our lives on a moment-by-moment basis. There is a surrender involved in this that can be described as anything but easy.

Let’s think about the life of Joseph, from the Old Testament.

John Maxwell indicates that Joseph’s life is an illustration of the Law of Process, where time and experience were necessary, but ultimately led to the place where Joseph grew into “the leader God desired him to be.” But that process involved Joseph being put into a pit by his brothers, then being sold to traders, who then sold him to Potiphar, the Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. We learn that Joseph found favor with Potiphar and was put as overseer of Potiphar’s house and belongings. But while in this role, Potiphar’s wife made sexual advances toward Joseph and when he refused her she publicly accused him of trying to sleep with her. Potiphar believed his wife’s lie and had Joseph put in prison. While in prison, Joseph interpreted the dreams of two other prisoners, the Pharaoh’s Chief Butler and Chief Baker. As Joseph said would come to pass, the Chief Butler was let out of prison but the Chief Baker was executed. The Chief Butler forgot all about Joseph until the Pharaoh had a dream and needed an interpreter; the Chief Butler then remembered Joseph and his ability to accurately interpret dreams. The Pharaoh called for Joseph and Joseph told him the meaning of his dream and advised the Pharaoh concerning his dream. The Pharaoh saw Joseph’s advice as being good and brought Joseph in to be governor of the land of Egypt, to bring his kingdom through the seven years of famine that Joseph saw from the Pharaoh’s dream. During the famine, Egypt was the only area to have bread and it just so happened that Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt seeking bread. They came before Joseph, not knowing it was their brother, and Joseph tested them until he saw humility in them. He then revealed himself to them and vowed to care for them through the remainder of the famine and thereafter, because God had brought him to the place in the process where he was the leader that God desired for him to become.

If we think back to when Joseph was thrown into the pit by his brothers, he was surely thinking it was the worst thing that could have ever happened to him and that he would have given anything for the circumstances to be different.

Just as with Joseph, we usually don’t know where God is sending us or what the timing is for certain things in our lives, but as Hebrews 10:36 states, we are called to have patient endurance.

Where might God be calling you to have patient endurance?

Be Nimble

Your life is not your own. You have been called to surrender your life, your desires, your agenda, your hopes, and ask God to implant in you the desires, agendas, and hopes that He has for your life. Not at all an easy thing. In fact, it’s actually quite mysterious. There is no road map, no GPS. It means setting out every day with no preconceived expectation of what the day will bring. This is hard to understand, especially for our Type A, ambitious, driven culture. We are planners. We see life as a chess game, knowing our strategy three or four moves ahead. Yet, God calls us to surrender in a way that allows us to be nimble, to be able to respond to an opportunity that we could not have seen coming.

Craig Groeschel, pastor of Lifechurch, the largest church in the U.S., talks about how he no longer does strategic planning for the church because he doesn’t want to be boxed in and miss an opportunity by limiting themselves to what is outlined in a planning document. The faith that is required in this approach is one that is not for the lazy. It is not a sit back and wait to see what happens type of posture. It is a faith that goes to God before anything else that morning and asks for God’s explicit guidance and God’s hand to be on that day and all that it entails. It is a faith that doesn’t ask God how something is to take place, but simply asks what one step you should take this morning to move toward what the Lord has for you today. Scary? Yes. Especially for people who want to have that 10-year plan. But, if you’re honest with yourself, doesn’t trying to create that 10-year plan actually bring more stress into your life than if you simply choose to live in the present, one day at a time. When you think about a 10-year plan you start to think about all of the “what-ifs”. What if you make the wrong decision about something? What if you pass up an opportunity? What if you don’t give 110% in that particular thing? You start to freak out that if you don’t do this and if you don’t do that, then you won’t attain the goals outlined in your 10-year plan and all will be lost. In reality, you are called to something much more simple. You are called to give up your agenda and ask God for His agenda for you. Craig Groeschel says, “When we show God our faith, he shows us His Faithfulness.”

Welcome To My Blog

Thank you for joining me.

I am a professional working woman who desires to lean in to my career in order to grow in and express my love for God, express my love for God’s people, and fulfill His purposes for my life.

I do this through exploration and discovery, with a heart that is open and seeking.

Please join me on this journey.