Thursday, May 24, 2018

What To Do First to Make a Profit


The PF Women Team at our Annual Team Retreat  ~ 2018

Today on Seth Godin's blog, he said:

"It's tempting to decide to make a profit first, then invest in training, people, facilities, promotion, customer service and most of all, doing important work. In general, though, it goes the other way."

Yes, it does. If you are waiting to make a profit before you do these things, in my experience you're  not going to make a profit. So many organizations, ministries and churches are struggling with financial issues. I know your pain. As anyone who follows our story knows, our ministry was in a ton of debt four years ago when I came on as director.  Since that time, we've gotten out of debt and turned a profit every year.  God has done amazing things through out team, for which we give Him the glory!

I find that what Seth is saying here is absolutely true, with one disclaimer. For Christian leaders, spiritual disciplines must always be first. Before we started investing and training and all of that, seeking God for his blessing and direction was and still is -- and always will be, first.

With the team I'm honored to lead, we've followed this method. And I can tell you, it works. We have sought God and then invested in our team and in people, trained, promoted, been committed to excellent customer service and doing the important work we do with excellence, BEFORE we expected to turn a profit.

 If you want to read about our team values (which were created by our entire team as a collaborative effort) you can do so here. Many people ask how we get the results that we get. I believe reading our values will give insight into how it happens.

By the way, Seth is one leader and thinker I follow. I'm not saying I agree 100% with what he (or any leader/thinker) says, but he's someone I've gleaned good insights from. People often ask me what books and blogs I read and what podcasts I listen to, so there's one. Read Seth's blog here. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

I'm Just Being Transparent...



This year at the Stronger Conference, a young minister stopped me as I was walking out of the room at the conclusion of a workshop and she said, "I want to tell you something..." (I was all ears.) She said, "Do you notice how many of the speakers this weekend are saying, "Now, I'm just being transparent when I tell you..." or "I'm just keepin' it real..." I nodded yes. In fact, I mentioned that I was one of those speakers. I think I probably said a few times in both my keynote message and my workshop that I was just "keepin' it real."

After I affirmed that yes, I had noticed that -- she said, "Do you know why they have to do that? They do it...and you do it, because so many people don't keep it real. So many in leadership aren't transparent, Deanna. That's why all these people speaking here feel an urge to declare their transparency.." I let her know that usually when I say, "I'm just keeping it real" it's because I have just shared something that I believe some people may think is inappropriate because they aren't used to hearing it publicly. So they are shocked. And I'm trying to soften the blow to their sensitivities in some way.

She thanked me for leading a conference that featured such openness from the speakers.


The conversation with this millennial really left me thinking. Here are some things that rolled around in my mind...

Should we stop saying, "I'm just keepin' it real" or "I'm just being transparent..." or "Can I be transparent with you?" in our messages? Is it getting old? Overrated? It is really in vogue to make these statements, and maybe it's become overkill, a worn out cliche that has lost it's luster.

Maybe we all need to train ourselves to stop saying things like, "I'm just keeping it real" and just live real and let people notice that without announcing it. And if their sensitivities are shocked, well, just let that be their issue to process.

Thoughts?

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Leader: Put your blinders on!


Sometimes in leadership, we've gotta put proverbial blinders on. It is so easy to get off track by looking around us. This will almost always slow us down. I'm a detail person and I can get distracted super easy.  Before I know it, I'm behind in my goals because I'm looking at something other than the objective. I often have to remind myself to snap out of looking around and run full steam ahead for the win.

It's going to take every ounce of energy you have as a leader to accomplish big things.  We can lose the race by broken focus. Remember when Chad le Clos lost to Michael Phelps after famously turning his head to look in the middle of the race? Oh my lands, what an awful mistake. I think of that a lot in regard to leadership. What are we stopping to look at that we really don't have time to look at if we want to stay on our game?

Leader friend...put those blinders on and run toward your goal with all your might!  Run like you are on fire! Run like you are the third monkey trying to get on the ark!

Friday, May 18, 2018

Leadership: This Changes Everything


Are you a leader in need of a lift in your spirit, fresh ideas or a change of pace? Get up and walk outside!  This is so powerful, it's no joke. Getting outdoors changes everything for me. I'm a homebody, which few would guess because I'm on the road so often. My favorite thing is curling up with a book in total silence or perhaps with a bit of light classical or monk music in the background. (Yes, I am serious. I often work or relax to monk music...stuff like this.)  But, as happy as the indoors can make me, there is absolutely nothing that brings a boost like going outside.


Fresh air impacts our lives in such a great way. Research shows that spending time in fresh air increases energy in 90% of people. Whenever I'm lacking energy, this is one of my main go-to's. I'm at a place right now where I'm reminding myself that it mustn't be a go-to just in times of severe stress, but it needs to be an every day thing, as regular as brushing my teeth. I am endeavoring to lead myself better in this way.

Scene from my walk this morning
One of my favorite thing is the scent of outdoors.  It's a proven fact that outdoor smells help to remove stress in our lives and promote relaxation. Some of the ones that are my favorites are the smell of rain, freshly cut grass, and pine. One of the wax melts I use all the time in my house is pine, but there is absolutely nothing like the real thing. Walking outside boosts our immune system and helps fight off depression. Oxygen energizes our bodies and minds. What's not to love about it?

Going outside is something every leader can do, no matter their situation. It doesn't cost anything to step outside. You can take five minutes or five hours.  Maybe the best thing you can do today is go outdoors for a little while. I have to preach tonight, but I began my morning outside on a 3 mile walk. So much of what happens for me and for others will be impacted by my time outdoors today.

More than ever, people seem to be creatures of indoors. How do you break out of that? What do you most like to do outdoors and how does it affect you?

 

Monday, May 07, 2018

This Could Have Ruined Everything... (But It Didn't!)

 No one would ever guess what happened to me this weekend in Jacksonville, Florida...so I'm going to tell you. :)


As I was preaching at the Fearless Tour at New Hope Assembly of God this weekend,  I got choked up, literally. For probably 2-3 minutes I coughed profusely and greatly struggled. Then I drank some water and kept preaching. Everyone was gracious to give me a few moments to get my bearings. If you were there, you'll remember it!

What no one realized at the time was that I swallowed a bug that flew right in while I was preaching! So disgusting! I said nothing because I was at a point in the sermon where I was really connecting and I knew if I said, "I swallowed a bug," everyone would either laugh profusely or be really concerned, or start feeling sorry for me.  And at that point whey wouldn't be thinking about the message anymore, but the fact that I had just swallowed a bug. They would then imagine what it would be like, and feel grossed out which is understandable. I was pretty repulsed myself.  It was quite literally "stuck in my throat" and I was hacking and finally decided to drown the thing and be done with it. (I'm on Keto right now, so thankfully it was just protein.)

We went on and it was a great response around the altars. I think of people like Jasmine who had a life-changing encounter with God. We couldn't afford to let a bug get us off track!!!

It's important to stay focused no matter what. All kinds of things come along to steal our focus. And they are legit. Things like financial issues, family problems, health problems, criticism and more. We can let these things determine the day or we can stop letting the tail wag the dog.

A bug could have ruined everything on Saturday, but it didn't. 

Stay focused, friend!

 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Hurry up!



Recently on our family cruise my husband and I were waiting in a long line for the breakfast buffet. I began to get rather frustrated with the people in line. They were moving as slow as molasses. I’ve never tested how fast molasses really moves, but you know…. 

What  irked me was that this line as long as an anaconda did not have to stay that way!  People moved in slow motion as they reached for a grapefruit or selected a box of cereal. They seemed to be giving serious thought to selecting a sausage. I wanted to scream, “What’s wrong with you people? It’s sausage. This doesn’t require an executive decision. Grab and move! Grab and move!”

I quipped to my husband, “For a person who is on the move, this line that is not on the move but could very easily be is rather frustrating.” He gently said back to me, “Babe, you’re not supposed to be on the move this week. This isn’t the week to rush anywhere. Just relax.”

I will admit that was hard advice although I knew he was right. And, I will also admit I could not just stand there and “waste my time.” In my previous life I was World Director of Productivity. So as people in front of me took their sweet time, I took it upon myself to rearrange and straighten items in front of me like small cereal boxes and butter pats that were not in perfectly straight lines. I thought my husband would die.         

On the same day, I decided to stay on the ship while my family all went on excursions. I was sorely in need of a day of rest. My testiness at the breakfast bar proved that if nothing else.   

Especially with some things I have faced in this season, I need to be intentional about taking some time to breathe. Breathe again. Not have to think so quickly on my feet. Not be the answer person. Not make any decisions. Not solve a problem. Take some moments to just be. Make a “stop doing” list.

Leaders need to be relentlessly intentional about moving slower on some days so we can keep moving faster on others.
  

Monday, December 04, 2017

Have you chosen a word of the year?




Selecting a personal word of the year has been my custom for many years. The word is my theme of the year and something for me to focus on, to build my faith and to grow. Each year I look for ways to remind myself of the theme…everything from a decorative sign with the word, to a piece of jewelry.

This year my word is resilient. 

All my life I have had to be resilient, and some years more than others.  I know it is this way with everyone to a degree. No one is immune to pain or problems. But frankly, some people are more resilient than others.  I have been studying those who are most resilient and trying to learn from them.

With 2017 coming to a close,I have things to bounce back from. There are parts of my life I’m absolutely slaying and other parts that are out of my control. If I could control it, I would have already given everything I have to slaying it.  The challenges remaining are out of the realm of me being able to change them aside from prayer. Thankfully, prayer is our most powerful recourse. Prayer changes things. In the meantime though, (it’s called the MEAN-time for a reason!) I have to find a way to flourish through things I never dreamed I would be facing.

I am thankful for a heavenly father who knows what we need when we need it. In the course of my master’s work, I was assigned two books this semester that prepared me for my current season. They are Rising Strong by Brene Brown, and Leadership Pain by Sam Chand. I would recommend these two books to everyone, particularly leaders. 

At some point you are going to face some things you never asked for, never expected, can’t control, and cry a river of tears over. My advice as a fellow traveler is to surround yourself with the right people. Find those who have walked through whatever it is that you’re going through successfully, and get their wisdom. Read wisdom from those you more than likely won’t have opportunity to meet.  Pray your guts out, and ask other people who know how to pray and fast to join you. While prayer is a hand grenade, fasting is a bomb.

Prior to reading the book Leadership Pain, I saw almost nothing good about pain. I’ve changed my mind. Dr. Sam Chand says, “You’ll only grow to the threshold of your pain.” The greatest leaders are the best pain processors. The leaders who are entrusted with the most pain produce the greatest work. So, if these things are an indication, and I believe they are -- get ready. The biggest and best things are yet to come!

What is your word of the year?

    

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Day I Almost Suffocated at a Women's Conference

Years ago I was in a place of deep depression. I was reading my Bible, maybe more than ever, because I was in such a desperately low place. I was praying daily. I was seeking God. I was not only seeking Him, I was begging Him to help me, to speak to me, to do something that only He could do.


In the midst of this, I was the speaker at a women's conference. I've never stopped working or serving for the past thirty years, even when I've been in a low place. Some people might say, "Well, that's your problem, right there!" I guess one could look at it that way. I just see it that even on my worst days I get up, dress up and show up.  And believe me there were plenty of days I didn't feel like doing any one of those three things.

On this particular occasion I was the keynote speaker, but the host of the conference was also speaking in one of the sessions. As I sat there, I experienced something that was common for a women's conference or church service. So common that I share this story with no concern that people will figure out where I was, or that I will point anyone out specifically.

As speakers go, the host of the conference was popular and passionate and everything most people are looking for in a conference host or leader. I don't remember what the text of her message was or even the main points. All I recall is that the majority of the message was her telling the women gathered what they should be doing that she assumed they were not doing. And the message was that if they just did what they should be doing, life would be so much different. 

"Ladies, you need to be in the Word more! If you were in the Word as you should be, the things you are experiencing would not be happening as they are!"

"Ladies, you need to pray more! If you just had a prayer life like Anna, if you would just tarry with Him for one more hour...if you would just press in like the woman with the issue of blood...if you would just seek Him more...your problems would seem small!!!"

"Ladies, you need to praise God more! If you would just praise Him, he would set you free as He did Paul and Silas when they were in a prison!"


Do we need to be in the Word? Yes. Do we need to pray? Yes. Do we need to praise God? Yes. And I was doing all those things, yet as she shouted all these things we should be doing,  I felt like I was going to suffocate. It took everything I had not to run out of the room. I was talking to myself in my head saying, "Stay here, just stay here. It's going to be okay..."Some may say that I was only responding this way because of being in a depressed state. But in retrospect, not being in that place of depression anymore, I can tell you that while being depressed impacted the way I perceived things, it wasn't the entire cause. And actually, that moment changed me as a leader...forever. After I got through feeling like I would suffocate, I had an wake up call that changed the course of how I communicate.

It was an epiphany for me that people don't respond to a steady diet of just hearing what they should be doing. Life is much more complex than that. You can do everything you should be doing and still deal with the current problem you have. I have prayed, I have fasted, I have wept on the altar, I have renounced every sin, I have served my guts out - and people I love have still died. I have read my Bible until the wee hours of the morning, and yet, people I have trusted have deeply wounded me. I have praised God, and still have loved ones who are horribly sick and in need of a miracle. I have experienced some of the most painful things in my life and witnessed them in the lives of others when I was doing all the things I should be doing. Hearing a message on all I should do when I'm doing all I can do makes me feel a lot of guilt that is not from God. The fact is, doing all the right things doesn't zap your problems away. If that was the case, things the apostles went through and the outcome in their lives would have been vastly different.(Do he research on how most if not all of these guys died.)

Recently I was in one of my classes for my masters at Southeastern University and our guest instructor for the day was Dr. Sam Chand. One of the main things he taught us was, "Don't let anyone 'should' on you." It seldom produces long term results to rag on people about what they should be doing. They hear what they should do from everyone from their mother-in-law to their doctor. But pastors/speakers do this week after week. (Insert shouting preacher here) "YOU SHOULD BE EXCITED ABOUT JESUS!!!!" Meanwhile the congregation sits there and thinks, "Okay...tell us WHY."
 
That day at the women's conference was a turning point for me. I have been guilty of a lot of "shouldy messages" in the course of my ministry. How many people had I emotionally suffocated with a list of do's and don'ts without telling them about the person who can change their lives?  I realized that my mandate as a preacher was to open the Word of God and share WHO He is and WHY He came and WHAT He could to do in their lives. My job was to study the Word of God and find a way again and again to share all of that in a fresh new way that the Holy Spirit would inspire me to do.

Part of the struggle is, it's easier to preach a shouldy message. You don't have to dig in to the Word of God to study and explain anything. All you have to do is get up and shout at people about what they should be doing. Studying the Word of God in depth takes work. And, it's a lost art in the ministry. That's not my opinion, it's a fact. I sensed this in the past but didn't really have any hard evidence about it. Recently, I read a book for school that I was assigned called The Pastor Theologian by Gerald Heistand and Todd Wilson. At face value I assumed it was going to be the boring book this semester. Truth be told I was kind of dreading reading it even as I paid for it and put it on my Kindle. But I was wrong. It was life changing! Reading it fired me up even more to delve into God's Word and  prepare messages that would reveal the character of God to people and result in transformation in hearts and lives through the power of God.

As an imperfect vessel, I slip now and again and should on somebody in one of my messages, but I make a conscious choice to not do that as much as possible. Am I resisting the work of the conviction of the Holy Spirit in a person's life? Absolutely not. But the point is, it's His job to convict, not mine.

My job is to share the Who, what, when, where and why. The why is only secondary to the WHO. And, the Holy Spirit draws them to change...not me.

What has your experience been when you hear all that you "should" be doing in a message? Has it brought about life transformation in you? What kind of messages have brought about life change through Christ in your life?

Photo: Freedigitalphotos.net 

Friday, August 04, 2017

Sometimes It Pays to Say Nothing!


Sightseeing for two days led to a craving to do nothing and everything at the same time, yesterday.

Sleeping in.
Staying in jammies.
Reading.
Watching movies.
Cuddling.
And all that's great about spending a quiet day together.

When evening came, Larry said he wanted to try a spot that was featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. It's a place called Sherman's with locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

Something hilarious happened soon after we arrived. The server overheard Larry and I having a conversation about the selections on the menu. We were just talking in the same manner that we always do, but she took something more from the conversation. Something we never said!  Larry overheard her tell her co-workers, "These people are food critics!" She thought we were there to scope it out and write a story about the place. We decided to say nothing and let them think what they wanted to. You know what they say about assuming. Staying quiet was a great decision because after the server told this to her co-workers, they were practically falling over themselves to make us happy! Little samples came to our table. Was this so terrible that we didn't correct their assumption?  I decided to let it go and ask for forgiveness in my bedtime prayers.

Although the service was over-the-top because they assumed we were professional food critics, the food really did speak for itself. 



Take this pie for instance. See those little crunchy things on the outside? Those are crushed up cookie crumbs. It's "Marion Berry Pie." The bottom and sides are a cookie crumb crust, then cheesecake, then mixed berries on top. Divine! Sherman's makes all their own desserts. I was impressed. 


The most difficult thing was knowing what to select...


I could clearly understand why Guy Fieri decided to feature this place. Larry chose the Coconut Cake for dessert. He wasn't disappointed.


During my time here I've been working out with Revelation Wellness but dear sweet Lord, it can only do so much when it's up against this!

Would I recommend Shermans or dine there again? Absolutely. Although I'm not a professional food critic I'll gladly spread the word and leave a review on Yelp.

I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner but by far my favorite part of the day was our time together with nothing to focus on but rest and each other. And, I know if I'm ever out of a job, I can probably train to be a food critic fairly quickly.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

3 Things I Learned in the Desert

"You learn something new every day!" I wish I would have coined that phrase but of course I didn't -- it's an old one. Each day I look for opportunities to learn and usually learn more than three things. Yesterday was no exception as Larry and I spent the day at Joshua Tree National Park, taking in the sights.



I had no idea what I was in for. I mean, I knew it was a desert, but oh my lands, it's the mother of all deserts! It's a desert on steroids. The first thing anyone needs to do is get yourself a Big Gulp before you go, because it will take you a minimum of two hours to drive through it. Don't let the word PARK fool you. This thing is the size of the state of Rhode Island. No, I'm not kidding. And it will take you two hours only if you don't stop at any of the exhibits along the way, which of course, we did. Speaking of a big gulp, the first thing I learned is this:

1) If you want to know where you should eat or drink, just watch where the old people are headed.

I talked a bit about this in my last blog post but it bears repeating. You won't find anything to eat or drink inside Joshua Tree Park. But, outside one of the entrances to the park there's a gas station that has everything from slushies to hamburgers.  I went in to use the restroom one more time before our journey and wanted an unsweet tea as well. This place had everything BUT the tea. And honestly, it didn't look very clean.  I couldn't believe the chaos down to the backed up line at the register and little kids running around begging their parents for candy. I sound ancient now, I know.

In the midst of this commotion what do I spy? There were a bunch of elder folk across the street. Why, pray tell? There is a lovely little coffee shop with freshly brewed tea as well as crafts for sale. And, it was clean as a whistle!. Why does anyone say clean as a whistle? Somebody's mouth was on it. And for all we know, it was not clean. So regarding the old folk, watch this and see if I'm not right! Older folk, they like good quality food made from scratch in an extremely clean environment. You could do a white glove test where the seniors eat. Despite the fact that nobody wears white gloves anymore. And it's quiet. Old people like peace. You will not be disappointed when it comes to food and drink, as well as the environment. Old folk were the first ones to say, for heaven's sake, SAVE THE ENVIRONMENT!

I acquired a mammoth iced tea and we headed for our jaunt through the wonderland that is Joshua Tree Park.


This is a Joshua tree. It got it's name because the first people who discovered the tree -- the Mormons bless their hearts said it reminded them of the biblical account of Joshua lifting his hands to the sky in prayer. It's interesting that all through our time of driving through the park, applications to the Bible were coming to my mind. Everything from the fact that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, to God being our rock. I also thought of Proverbs which says that it's better to live in a desert than with a nagging woman. (Proverbs 21:19) Honestly, the desert is beautiful. OF COURSE it's better than a nagging woman. It doesn't take a king to tell us that. Which brings me to #2...

2)  The desert gets a bad rap at times.

It's awesome. Stop and get a drink before you go into it, and everything will be fabulous. Don't bring a nagging woman with you.


The gigantic rocks were my favorite part. It's off season here so there is hardly anyone around. Plenty of times Larry and I came to an exhibit and there was no one around. We could have gotten away with a lot. I was awestruck about how loud the silence was. I mean it was deafening. But in those moments, God spoke many things to my heart. I understand over and over how people hear Him so clearly in nature.


Larry and I are in the photo above but you can barely see us. Look at the size of that rock. The first person in history to see this had to shriek, "Oh my lands!" 


We took our time going through the park, stopping at most of the exhibits and getting out to take pictures. On the first day we arrived in California Larry and I made a California playlist on Spotify. We listen to it in the car every time we go to another place here. It's all songs about California. Everything from "California Girls" to "Hotel California." For yesterday we made a desert playlist. It had everything from "Desert Song" to U2's "The Joshua Tree" album. Which brings me to #3

3) If you want a great marriage, you have to plan for it.

And if you don't have a marriage and want one, put this on your #relationshipgoals list. I knew the importance of this before I went on this trip, but yesterday was a refresher course in why it's important.

As we were driving through the park listening to our desert songs, sipping our gargantuan drinks, I thought to myself, "I never imagined it would still be this good 30 years later..." I was reminded that a huge part of it is that we plan for it to be. None of this just happened on it's own. When it comes to memories Larry is as big a planner as I am, and many times even more. He always says, "making memories" is our family theme. I'm so glad I married someone who keeps this a priority.

Maybe things aren't the same in  your life and family, and you want them to be. George Eliot once said, "It's never too late to be what you might have been." I believe this applies to marriages and families too. It's not even about vacations or spending money - it's about getting a thought and following through with action to do something as simple as making a free playlist of songs for the one you love...listening to music together, or going on an evening walk together.

I learned all this and more in my experience at Joshua Tree. I hope all my friends get to see it at least once in their lifetime.