Thursday, May 31, 2012

It takes more than wishing


 "Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone." James 2:17

I have so many dreams, and only so many years.

Daily I pray, and work.

And then pray and work some more.

I hope so much to make a difference. Every day when I wake up, I want to make the world a different place by being fully alive.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie...

I'm tired! But it's a good tired!

Here I am getting in a post in right before the clock strikes midnight. I always blog daily but sometimes I make it right in the nick of time.  I'm just getting home from church, believe it or not. Yes, at midnight!

Tonight we featured an "Italian Night" at Celebration  which was a Friends Night specifically designed for our people to bring new folks. Usually we do our Friends Day outreaches on Sundays but this time we decided to try Wednesday night just for something different.

In addition to all the food and ministry time we also gave away an espresso machine, gift certificates to Olive Garden, a makeup collection, gift certificates for a photo shoot with Dinah-mite, a book, and I donated one of my teapots from my  personal collection for the occasion.

To start the night we had amazing Italian dinner buffet (and some of the most delectable Italian creme cakes EVER) and music. For the ministry portion of the evening I interviewed our children's pastors, Adam and Brenda Tobias. They shared a very powerful testimony. 

Those who came for the first time seemed to just love it.  One man who came for the first time was so inspired by Pastor Adam's words, he wanted to stay and get involved and help clean up and do whatever he could to be a part. Wow! Part of what Pastor Adam shared was about how serving has changed his life and will change anyone's life.

After service we not only cleaned up from the outreach but started clearing the stage to do a new set up for Sunday.

Though exhausted tonight, I'm taking Pastor Adam's words to heart myself. What a blessing it IS to serve.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What happens when my mind and body aren't in the same place...

If you need a laugh today, here you's on me.

Saturday we had a Celebration Church event at a restaurant called Der Dutchman in Sarasota. Larry and I arrived first and right before we entered the restaurant I had taken a call on my cell phone. It was church related and presented me with some problems to solve regarding the event. I was stressed and had some logistics  to work out.

I immediately went into "fix it" mode. This is where I start analyzing to fix problems. I sort of go into a fog where I focus on solving issues and tune out everything and everyone around me while I do. Please note, this can be dangerous as I'm about to prove...

As soon as we got inside I had to use the restroom. My husband was waiting for me in the foyer area of the restaurant. I wasn't really focused on actually using the restroom and was still thinking of the things I had to solve.

No one was in the large restroom but me. I headed straight for a stall, and sat down to go. Even sitting on the toilet I was thinking, "okay, I'm going to do this, and then fix this, and yada yada yada.

A moment later I heard the door open and several people came in. There was no conversation but lots of peeing. I know, I know. You're wondering -- "where in the world is this blog post headed?  She must have writer's block when she's got nothing to write about other than people peeing..." Stay with me...

So I quickly finished what I went in there to do, flushed and headed out of the stall. When I came out, I was standing right next to three men who were all peeing at urinals.

Oh. My. Stars.



At urinals!!!

I was in the men's room!!!!  

You would think I would handle this discreetly, but nooooooooooooo.

I was panicked!

Not only was I in the wrong place but I lost all sense of discretion. I was so startled, I threw my hands up in the air and shouted, "OH MY GOSH, HOW DID I GET IN HERE???!!!!"

All three men kept peeing and had their necks totally craned around, staring at me. One was looking at me with eyes wide as saucers shrugging his shoulders as if to say, "I don't know psycho lady, you probably just walked in here like we did and now you're screaming like an idiot..."

I ran out the door as fast as I could with my head down.
Of course I didn't even stay to wash my hands. Heavens no! (Thank God for hand sanitizer...)
I ran past the people sitting in the hallway.
Past the book displays.
Past the jars of jelly and sticky buns.
I haven't ran that fast since it was field day in elementary school!!!

My hands were shaking. (And they were still unwashed.) I ran to my husband in the foyer and buried my head in his chest and said, "Oh my gosh Larry!!! I just did a horribly embarrassing thing and...and...and...oh my gosh, how am I going to go inside the restaurant after THIS?!! After this!!!!  

"Calm down," he said. "What's going on?"

I told him.

"What were you thinking?" he said. 

"I know," I said. "I wasn't thinking, that's the point. My mind wasn't in that restroom. I was just focused on all the other stuff."

So with my head still nestled into my husband's chest, I said, "I hope they were getting ready to leave! I hope they already ate and are just using the men's room on the way out.  I  can't bear the thought of having to sit in here and eat in the same room with them after I just made a complete fool of myself. And I can't just leave because we have a church event."

"It will be okay, it will all be okay" he said, soothingly.

As soon as he said that, out of the corner of my eye I saw three men walking by...

After they passed us, I glanced up and I noticed it was the three men from the restroom. They were leaving the restaurant, talking and laughing amongst themselves. They were probably laughing about me. Face it, this is not paranoia.I'm sure they will laugh about their encounter with "psycho woman in the bathroom" for years to come.


I pulled out my hand sanitizer from my purse and said, "Larry, the moral of this story is, no matter how many issues you have to solve don't lose the presence of mind to actually take notice of your surroundings."

"I'll keep that in mind," he said. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Why I'm not partying today

I'm kinda quiet on this Memorial Day.

There's nothing being fired up on our grill outside.

I'm not going to the beach.

And having the day off has quite honestly just made me think about all the work that's going to be piled up waiting for me tomorrow.

But the real reason I'm kind of quiet is because I wrestled with a lot of thoughts about today.

Earlier this week I was putting together two presentations for Memorial Day weekend at church.  A friend of mine in the church who is very sick at this time and being treated at the Moffitt Cancer Center requested that we do Battle Hymn of the Republic. The best rendition that we do of that at Celebration is with a trio arrangement. I corralled a soprano and a tenor and brushed that up and brought it out for this occasion, not just to honor our soldiers but our dear friend.  It broke my heart a few weeks ago when my friend said, "can you please sing it while I'm still here?" My response: "Just to be clear, I'm never giving up on your healing...but yes, we'll do the song." :)

And then I was feeling a tug to sing Janet Paschal's "Another Soldier's Coming Home". I decided to put together a Power Point presentation to go with it that included lots of photos of soldiers and their families and war and military funerals. Working with it for hours in preparation got my thoughts churning.

If I was a wife or a Mom whose husband, son or daughter lost their life in military service, how would I feel about today and people's typical responses?

I suspect I might bristle at the very least when people quipped about their 3-day weekend, and the steaks on the grill, and their time at the amusement park with the family, and their day off at the beach, and their "it-doesn't-get-any-better-than-this!" statuses on Facebook.

So, putting myself in these women's shoes, I decided not to do that this year.

Yes, I know it's because their husbands or children gave their lives that we can do all these wonderful things on this holiday. And I'm truly grateful.

But after looking at hundreds of pictures of real (not models or stock photos) wives and moms grieving at funerals, and little children carrying folded flags, I just can't be so cavalier about what my family and I are going to enjoy today. I'm thinking about a wife or Mom who is looking through her old photos today, or going to a grave site. I'm giving consideration to all the tears she's going to shed today because there's still an empty place at the table. 

It makes me sad. And my thoughts and prayers are directed today at all those who have lost someone special to them. Because that ache never goes away.

Perhaps the best way we can honor those who have passed is to pray for their loved ones who are still living without them. That's what God spoke to me this week.

Won't you join me in prayer for a few moments today, for those who have suffered loss?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Want to make a difference?

If you woke up today thinking, "I'd like to do something to change someone's life..." look no further.

Many of my friends are aware that my sister, Shari Meekins, is very involved in missions. In fact, her life's work for quite a number of years was with Samaritan's Purse.

At this time her desire is to return to Haiti, where she spent a year working for Samaritan's Purse, after the tragic earthquakes there. This time she will go back to minister with Samaritan's Feet, an amazing ministry also based in Charlotte, NC. The goal is to head there July 21, where she will partner with Samaritan's Feet and Convoy of Hope, to wash and anoint the feet of impoverished children and fit them with a brand new pair of shoes!

Right now all that's needed to get Shari to Haiti is $675.00.  Some of you know Shari well, and some of you only know her through me talking about her. I am not exaggerating when I say she is the most giving, forgiving, and compassionate person I know. And I know a lot of people!

Whether you know her or you don't, can I just tell you that giving anything toward this would be planting your seed into excellent soil?

If you'd like to make my day and Shari's too by supporting her to go back to Haiti, go here.You can safely and securely give there on line. Or, if you want to write a check and send it through regular U.S. Mail, you can follow the directions at this link.

Thanks for your prayerful consideration in giving to change lives in Haiti through one of the most amazing women of God that I know.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes!

The past two days I've blogged about going through a big unexpected change, and handling it properly.

I am a really transparent person and loathe talking in generalities or in some kind of veiled manner. But this is an issue where I'm expected to keep confidentiality. I will just share a brief testimony today without giving specifics and I hope this builds your faith.

On Thursday morning I received a call that indicated that my day-to-day life was going to change in a big way. This came out of the blue. The news was such that the person calling asked me to sit down before they went any further.

I sat down.
I listened.
I was shocked.

I received this news and slowly began to process it.  The person calling actually said, "Do you need a minute to just breathe and take this in?" I did.

After a moment, I told the person who called me, "well, my life and it's direction is in God's hands, and I trust Him. I will receive this as being from God. I know He is good. I will begin to process this change." I thanked them for calling and expressed my appreciation. I know that sounds odd, to thank someone and express gratefulness when they have delivered sad news. I felt led to do so even though they were sharing something that would affect me, my family, and a whole lot of other people. 

I got off the phone and just began to thank God. Yes, I did shed some tears. This is normal and to be expected for any of us who feel sad. Scripture indicates even Jesus Himself felt sadness and wept. But in the midst of my disappointment I thanked God, for whatever He was doing that I didn't understand. I told Him over and over, "I trust You. I trust You with my life and all that is a part of it, Lord." I just felt led to thank Him and praise Him and declare His goodness.

A little over 24 hours later, the same person called back again. This time letting me know that everything had shifted for me. God had completely turned the tables overnight! Their exact words were, "what a difference a day makes." 

I'm rarely speechless. This was one of those rare times. I responded, "I don't even know what to say!" I had to call them back to have a conversation once I got my bearings.

Some of you reading this are going through trials and things seem unfair, or maybe it even seems like you are under a curse or some kind of black cloud. Can I just speak a gentle word into your heart...whatever you are going through, thank and praise the Lord. It might seem like a tragedy but you never know how God will bring good out of it. He can take what looks like a tragedy and turn the tables so that things are even better than before. He will strengthen you, grow  you, increase you, bless you.

Whatever you are going through, declare His goodness. He is a good God. He loves you. Be confident in that love. Declare it no matter what your eyes see. No matter what your ears hear.

I am a praying person. If you've read my blog or my Facebook longer than a minute you probably know that.  Today I am standing in agreement for every person reading this post who needs a miracle. I am declaring His goodness over your life!

What a difference a day makes! What a difference a Savior makes!

I love you all and thank you for reading.

Friday, May 25, 2012

3 Keys to Handling Unexpected Changes

           You must welcome change as the rule but not as your ruler.  ~Denis Waitley

Early yesterday morning before I left for the church office, a big change was suddenly thrown into my life.

I realize seasons of change in life are the rule not the exception. And I like what Waitley said that change is the rule, but not our ruler.

While I was processing this change I found great comfort in a few things...

Getting out of the bathtub and seeing that Max and Maddie had taken up residency in mine and Larry's bed, with Max's paw wrapped around her...always warms my heart. Larry just had to take a photo even though we've seen it so many times...

Prayer in the sanctuary that I customarily lead every Thursday morning at Celebration...

Reading Jesus Calling...

Completing all my customary church ministry duties...

Coming home and riding my bike for a longer time in weather that couldn't have been more perfect...noticing on my ride that all the crepe myrtles are blooming...

Having Larry decide to cook dinner last night...he made barbecue chicken on the grill and mashed potatoes (my favorite comfort food) and corn...with fresh watermelon for dessert...

Sharing the events of the day with he and Savanna over dinner...

Going outside until the sunset and digging in the dirt in my yard...

3 things help me when I'm dealing with unexpected changes:

1) Keeping positive routines - by this I mean things like devotional time, having dinner as a family, etc. I've found this to be important in order to keep my spiritual, physical and emotional equilibrium.

2) Self care - it's important to not get into "chaos mode" when stuff happens and let things like exercise go by the wayside. It's more important than ever when navigating change. Self care gives us the strength to weather changes.

3) Connection - I called a friend. Changes are much easier to walk through when you don't go them alone. 

Changes are going to come but they don't have to rule you.  Remind the change that through it all, there are some things you're still in charge of!

What helps you move through unexpected change?


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Do you really trust God with your life?

Changes happen in our lives all the time whether we like it or are ready for it. Sometimes we get angry about changes that are ultimately gifts from God although it doesn't seem like it at the time.

Peace comes to me when I pray for God to keep things from me that may seem like blessings but would ultimately destroy me. I consider things I don't receive as being in that category and move forward toward His greater blessing.

I've learned through experience there are times I have railed out at God over a change and in retrospect He was protecting me, sparing me, maybe even saving my life!

I'm learning to trust Him on the front end instead of waiting for the back end of something all the time to say, "oh, okay, thaaaat's what you were doing." 

A change came into my life today. I wasn't expecting it. I'm still catching my breath.

And I am blessing the Lord.
Blessing Him with every fiber of my being.

He is a good God.
I can trust Him with every detail of my life.
Greater things are yet to come!

He is already in the future waiting to show me around.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What I learned from wiping out on the sidewalk

A lot of the leaders that I'm friends with admit to me that they are really guilty of not taking their day off every week.  Wisdom dictates that leaders pace of themselves and allow time for refueling and nourishment of our body and soul.

I learned this lesson in a painful way last Saturday. I'm not even going to post a picture of the aftermath of this because quite honestly it will gross you out.  I did reveal the injuries to my friend Candy and her repulsed reaction gave me pause to think about sharing an illustration photo with the blogosphere.

I woke up on Saturday, ate breakfast and rode my bike. Then I set about working around the house. After doing housework I went outside to the yard. During the hottest part of the day I worked for many hours, weeding and other things.

I skipped lunch.

I drank a small cup of water, which any rational thinking person would have realized was not enough. 

I was tired, hungry and thirsty, but addicted to accomplishment. I would finish a section of the yard and think, "one more thing"... and take care of that. When I was done with the one more thing, I'd talk myself into just one more thing. And on it went. 

When it was early evening, my husband came out and suggested I come inside, get cleaned up and we go to dinner. We were going to one of my favorite places, Vallartas, for Mexican fare.

I knew he was ready for dinner, not to mention I was absolutely famished so I came in and quickly showered and got ready to go. All was well until we were walking in the parking lot (still in the Florida heat - the sun had not set yet) and as we approached the door to Vallartas... splat!!! There I went, down on the sidewalk.

Yes, I'm serious. I am usually holding Larry's hand on these occasions but at that moment I wasn't. He helplessly watched as I went tumbling forward and lost control,banging myself up pretty good.  

I know this about myself. I know that I can't go all day without eating and not feel at least a little shaky. And certainly I can't stay out in the heat all day and not drink anything. What in the Sam Hill was I thinking?  That was insane.

So my knees were totally scraped up and bleeding and I was laying there. Larry helped me to a bench outside the restaurant and, got me a tall glass of ice water. After drinking about 32 ounces of water, and eating some chips and salsa, I was okay again.  Thankfully I keep things like wipes and bandaids in my purse. (The kids always tease me about how EVERYTHING is in my purse. Dustin even did a skit at church once about "everything that can be found in my Mom's purse." Just want to point out, all the things I have in there do come in handy.)

The point of this post is that many times as leaders we get addicted to progress and talk ourselves out of rest. We keep going just one more hour or one more day or one more week without a rest, because so far we haven't crashed.

 We put our Sabbath day off for things we think are more important than rest.  All the while many of us are dealing with people in crisis. If anyone needs to make sure they are replenished, it's crisis caregivers.  But we think, "so far, so good" and  talk ourselves into giving up our sacred time for replenishment in order to accomplish that one more thing. If we're not careful we'll have a spiritual, emotional and physical splat on the sidewalk.

My boo-boos are slowly healing up but are still so sore. I have been reminded all week long of why I'm never going to go that long without replenishment again! And I'm applying it to the other aspects of my life as well. 

Being sidewalk pizza is not fun. Not fun at all.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Turning down a request for mentorship in three [not-so-easy] steps

This question came to me today on my Facebook page from Kimberly Jones and I asked her permission to share it here on the blog and answer it as part of the mentorship series.  It's not the first time I've received this question. I believe it's a common one that many leaders struggle with and my prayer is that this will help others as well.
Question: How do I tell someone I cannot mentor them because they disrespect me and undermine me? This person wants me to mentor them, but if I am going to be treated like this, I simply cannot. How do I back off from them and communicate to them in a courteous way the reason for this? ~ Kimberly
Answer: Kimberly, let me say first of all that personal mentoring becomes even more of a complicated matter for those of us who serve in vocational church ministry. I am not sure whether the person who has come to you clearly unqualified for mentorship at this point [by virtue of their disrespect and undermining] is a member of the church where you currently serve on staff, but if they are, that affects things. I address this issue specifically because when it comes to this, people often don't play fair.

As spiritual leaders we must take the high road. Nothing is more important than integrity. This includes holding our tongue on things we really want to say when it's wise to do so. When the person in question tells others their version of what you said, you don't get to tell your side of it. You don't get to talk about them in a negative fashion. You have to operate in integrity and love. Playing dirty is not an option for a true spiritual leader. 
Normally when it comes to anything especially in leadership,  I've always believed over-communicating is better than under-communicating. However, I've learned from past experience that the wisest way to handle the problem with those who do not qualify (at this time) for mentorship may not be a direct rebuke. 
I have learned that seldom do people quietly accept your correction or your decision and go on about their business. If they are disrespecting and undermining you already have indication they are not teachable at this time. I have come to believe that maybe the best way is a non-confrontational approach that will hopefully avoid drama and casualties with other people that they will try to pull into the situation. Unfortunately what happens is that some who are not strong in their faith will be sucked into their drama and it causes fallout with people who don't possess the maturity level to understand your course of action. 
My advice would be to set the relationship with the one requesting at the level at which you're comfortable and let it be. You don't owe them an explanation. And, by their actions they don't appear open to receive it anyway. Too many times we think we owe everyone an explanation and the simple fact is, we don't. 
It's wise to avoid trying to answer fools. Proverbs 26:4 says, "When arguing with fools, don't answer their foolish arguments, or you will become as foolish as they are." I would definitely categorize disrespect and undermining as foolish behavior. Can you explain or reason with a fool? 

At one time I not only mentored lots of individuals, but also had formalized classes and programs.  People's lives were changed. Some went back to school and graduated, others launched new careers, some followed dreams they thought had long died and yet others went to the next level in ministry.  Some learned basic life skills!  Mentorship for me at that time was done in an organized fashion and even included applications for mentorship, signed contracts and agreements, daily assignments, homework assignments, journaling, mandatory retreats away for deeper level (extended) teaching times, and lots more. I helped many people in this highly focused fashion for about seven years straight and put my whole heart and soul into it.  It gave me a high to see lives changed the way they were.  Nothing feels greater than to see your mentees soar!
Then I came to a place where I needed to make a change. A sabbatical and restructuring was needed for many reasons, including the issue you describe in your question.
There are times I've confronted people because of issues you mention and lovingly yet honestly told them the reasons why I was going to direct my energies elsewhere. When in a group setting, I sometimes had to remove people from the group. Concluding the mentoring relationship was done with care and in love but any time you tell people something is ending, most times they get upset. 

So with that in mind, what I recommend is that you do not share all the reasons with them.   If they're going to continue to undermine you, let it be with a story they have to completely make up versus something they can take that you said and twist. Silence is rarely misquoted. 

Correction for disrespect and undermining is certainly deserved. You are sick and tired of their bad behavior and want to give them a piece of your mind.

Although deserved, is it wise? 

What do you believe it will accomplish other than getting it off your chest? Think about the fact that if they were ready to hear your reasons, they would already be changing their behavior.
During this time of restructuring my own guidelines for personal mentoring,  I have been  talking with many pastors, pastors' wives, staff members and church leaders and asking how they do things. I love to learn from other leaders! The findings are interesting. I haven't found even ONE leader with a formalized approach. 
None of them have written expectations or agreements.
None of them have a process or any type of agenda that they follow. 
None of them announce or explain why they mentor one person or don't mentor another. Whether they mentor someone or not is a personal decision led by the Holy Spirit. They don't feel they owe anybody an explanation including that person. 
I've talked to leaders of churches of 50 or less, and as many as 3,000. 
It seems most of the leaders I've interviewed simply look around the church and see the people who are already committed to move in the right direction. This coupled with the discernment of the spirit determines who they take under their wing, or keep there. If people lack pursuit or show disrespect, they pull back. With those who are unfaithful, disrespectful or undermining, most leaders seem to believe the person already knows why the pull back occurs. 

I would suggest you allow time for a period of qualification. Earlier in the mentoring series here on the blog I talked about the importance of qualifying for mentorship. Your mentee needs to understand that they must qualify and what that entails. During a time of consideration, watch them closely.  As Lisa Alexander already said, at some point you do have to ask yourself where you're casting your pearls. If they are respectful and already faithful, then consider taking them on as a mentee.  If not, don't. And then don't beat yourself up over the decision. Your time and investment is worth something and it's important that you sow your seed into good soil.

If they keep asking you about getting started and you know they aren't ready, explain to them about what qualification means. Not to give a shameless plug or anything, but you might want to point them to a certain blog series on qualifying for mentorship. ;)
One caveat: it also greatly depends on where a person is in their spiritual journey. I have taken people I have never met before under my wing who have e-mailed me or even walked in off the street. My favorite thing to do is work with those who don''t know Christ yet. I've mentored many people who I have just met for the first time who request my help, when I feel led of the Holy Spirit to do so.  The need for discernment cannot be overemphasized. For what it's worth I've never had a problem out of an pre-Christian or a brand new one in this regard. Issues seem to occur with people who have been Christians a while.

I began with the promise of telling you how to handle this in three steps. They are:
  1. Decide what YOU want to do during a period of qualification.
  2. Do it.
  3. Don't feel obligated to explain everything.
I said it was not-so-easy because it isn't. 


Monday, May 21, 2012

Who wants to stand out?

If you want to stand out, simply keep your word.

Apparently it's not quite that simple. By all indications this is a really hard thing to do since so many people don't do it. Which means if you do keep your word, you are a hot commodity!

Over the last 25 years time I've had considerable experience mentoring others. I also am in connection with lots of other leaders who are involved in the same thing. What's surprising to many of us is how rare word-keeping is. Who would have ever thought that people would be amazing simply for showing up?  That's pretty mind boggling to think about...that just being present would be all one would have to do to stand out above the rest. But it's true!

If I'm helping someone who happens to be looking for a job and I notice they keep their word, I always find ways to include this on their resume and underscore the importance of communicating this aspect of their character in an interview.

Keeping your word is so rare these days that if you possess this quality you can pretty much write your own ticket.

Closely guard your word. Keeping your word is what people have to go by when making important decisions about you that will greatly affect your life.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My new love affair

I'm growing cilantro. This is what I started from just a few seeds in this pot a month ago.

I'm growing basil...

and tomatoes...peppers...summer squash...and more. We're not allowed to have gardens in our yards in the neighborhood I live in, however we can grow vegetables in pots on the patio.

In addition to the food, I'm re-planting almost all the perennials in my front yard that were killed in the wintertime frosts two years ago when it was unseasonably cold. All our neighbors experienced that too. Mostly only the really large plants and palms survived.  Others replanted a lot sooner. I've been slow to restore everything because it wasn't my passion before.

But things have changed now. I've been weeding and working out there almost every day.

For hours.

It will take me until the end of summer to get things perfectly in order according to the plan I've been developing.

I used to hate this. I mean dreaded it! I wrote whole blog posts about how much I hated working in the yard, and weeds in general.

I'm changing.

I'm craving it almost as much as I crave riding my bike, which is something else I do every single day.

When my ministry/coaching work is done I can't wait to split my time between cooking supper, riding my bike and digging in the dirt.

People can change.

Why this change for me?

I realize acts of God like frost can kill the plants. But aside from something God might do, it's all up to me.

That's really appealing on so many levels.

I don't mind personal responsibility at all. Never have. Dependability is my strong suit.    

When it comes to the plants and the care of the landscape it only requires my diligence to flourish.

My commitment.

My faithfulness.

No one else's.

And suddenly, I'm in love. 


Saturday, May 19, 2012

When Mentees Bite the Hand that Feeds Them

"If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principle difference between a dog and a man." ~ Mark Twain

Mentors may need a break from time to time to heal and recharge from situations where mentees have bitten the hand that once fed them.

I hate the fact that this is so common. I can't say that I've ever met a mentor who hasn't gone through this. Most, including myself, have gone through it multiple times.  I wrote about one of those situations in this article.

A pastor-friend recently shared with me about a mentoring relationship they developed with a young person they had invested in for many years. After many years of training and investing, they helped the mentee plant a church. It became prosperous and much of that was from all their mentor had poured into them. Instead of being grateful, the mentee ultimately became upset with the mentor. He said that with all the blessings of his church launch he felt he could have been living it sooner if the mentor would have only released him sooner.  He accused the mentor of holding him back. The relationship has been fractured and the possibility of restoration seems bleak at this point. 

It's important to honor the mentors who helped you get to where you are now.  Appreciate them throughout your life, not just while you are with them. You wouldn't be experiencing your current blessings without their investment.

Meanwhile for those of you who are the mentor, take it from me that while it's God's will that you continue to invest in up and coming leaders, you sometimes need a break to catch your breath before continuing on, and that's okay.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Being full of yourself will kill mentorship

If you are too full, there’s no room for you to learn anything more.  To qualify for mentorship you have to recognize your need for input.

A person who comes with an attitude that they already know as much as the mentor can’t be taught. 

Proverbs 27:7 says, “The full soul loatheth a honeycomb, but to the hungry soul, every bitter thing is sweet.” 

I know that my relationship with a mentee is going nowhere fast when every other word out of their mouth is, “I know,” “yes, I’m aware of that,” and “yes, I already know that.” Some people won't shut up about their qualifications enough to learn from anybody else.
The hungry soul, the one with the teachable spirit, will be filled.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What sowing and reaping has to do with mentorship

Mentees have much more affect on how much is received than their mentor does.

In the parable of the sower, the same sower sowed the same seed on the four different types of ground. In other words, it was the same teacher, mentor or preacher, with the same techniques, presenting the same message.

The condition of the ground makes the difference in results.

It’s interesting to me that in times past I’ve had people leave a church service telling me that they don’t feel the spirit of God, they feel dry, God’s not doing anything and they feel led to seek another church. After the same exact service somebody else will come up to me full of life or bawling their eyes out, moved by the spirit -- telling me that the presence of God was all over the place…they received a Word from God like never before, etc. What’s the difference? Same church, same service, same pastor, same message. Different person!!! 

Likewise, what you sow in a mentorship relationship, you will reap.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Why mentees should listen closely to conversations

The next step in qualifying for mentorship is to develop a habit of learning something from every conversation.

Listen up and listen closely! Hang on every word that your mentor says. 

Will they always get things 100% right? No. That’s not what it’s about.  Remember, you are not just learning from your mentor’s successes, but also their failures.

Mentorship is the benefit of experience without the pain of mistakes. A good mentor will share their mistakes with you, and how you can avoid them.

It really is true that you can learn something new every day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The first thing you need to do to qualify for mentorship

The first question I want to ask you today is: When a mentor finishes a conversation with you do they feel that you wanted their thoughts, their wisdom or advice?

The second question I want to ask you is: Why would God give you a mentor if you are not really eager to learn from them and apply what they have to say?

Cultivating a teachable spirit is the first thing you need to do to qualify for mentorship.

You do not receive a mentor just because you are in close proximity to someone. Even if they are in authority over you, this is not a definite indication that they are going to take you under their wing for anything other than immediate supervision. You prove that you are qualified as a mentee by respecting their wisdom.

I’ve been mentoring people for over 25 years now and over these years it’s been amazing to me how some people will say, “It’s amazing the things I’ve learned from Deanna,” while others will say, “I haven’t really learned anything from her at all.” 

The difference isn't how I led them, but in how willing they were to receive.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Are you qualified for mentorship?

All this week in a continuation of the mentorship series, I’m going to talk about qualifying for mentorship.


Yes, I said qualifying.

This is one of those things folks just seem to have a hard time understanding.

They think because they are employed somewhere that their boss is required to mentor them. 


Your boss supervises you but they don’t have to mentor you. Consider it a great perk of your employment if your boss mentors you.

People believe that because they are in a church the pastor or pastor’s wife is required to mentor them.


Please consider it a great honor and privilege if your pastor takes the extra time and care to personally mentor you. Your pastor is entrusted with the leading of the flock the primary role of which is training and equipping however they do have a choice of what and who to focus on within that area. 

Mentorship doesn’t happen because you just show up somewhere. You have to qualify.

If you are thoroughly confused by now and wondering what in the world I’m talking about and perhaps even getting a little irked, you really need this series. 

The first thing I’ll encourage you to do is pray. Ask God to prepare you for qualification. Seek Him in leading you to the right mentor/mentors, and ask Him to prepare your heart to receive.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Greatest mentoring opportunity ever...

There's no greater opportunity for mentorship than being a mom. Nothing has scared me out of my mind more, or given me more joy. Out of everyone I've had the privilege of investing in, these are my three favorites, by far.

We went out after church today to share a meal together. I didn't get anything fancy though I could have.  We were at a nice place. Being that it's mothers day I allowed myself a treat and had a burger and fries. My first in 58 days!  I've eaten very healthy and exercised daily for 58 straight days. Why? Because I'm not done mentoring these three and need to be around a little while longer...

Saturday, May 12, 2012

3 Keys to Success with Your Mentor

Lisa Alexander had some amazing insights yesterday in her guest post, and I'm following up on the heels of that with 3 keys to an effective mentoring relationship.

1) Write down what your mentor says.

One of my consistent habits is to write things down constantly. This includes everything from random thoughts, ideas, quotes, and definitely things told to me by mentors. Quite honestly when I am the one doing the mentoring and the person records nothing that I say, it's a huge red flag to me about how serious they are.

2)  Work harder than your mentor.

As Lisa said yesterday, if the mentor is doing more cheering than you, something's wrong. My boss Kathryn, (my manager at NextJob) often says that a major key to detecting a client's urgency in getting reemployed, and also their seriousness about coaching is if at any time we are doing more work than they are. In this case, something's wrong. Your mentor isn't there to do all the hard work for you. 

I've assigned my mentees or my coaching clients projects many times. A huge red flag to me is when they ask me when I can help them type their project, or make copies of things for them, or e-mail them certain things, or provide supplies. I would laugh but usually I'm too mad to laugh.

3)  Don't complain that it doesn't work for you.

Years ago I completed a 2 year coaching program for life and church coaching myself under the leadership of another coach. He said something important at the beginning: "Don't you dare tell anyone this program didn't work for you if you didn't follow what you were supposed to do down to the last detail." 

I did that program down to the last detail and guess what, it worked for me. Most things do when we do them to a "t". The issue is, most people tailor things like this to their own whims, creating ala carte mentoring or coaching and then want to go tell their friends and associates, "I tried that but it didn't really work for me..."

There are no words to describe the frustration when you hear that kind of utter nonsense.

The bottom line with this and most anything in life is that you get out of it what you put into it.