Author: WLI

Meet Katelyn Schneider, 2017 Streufert Award Recipient

The Board of Directors of WLI proudly introduce the 2017 recipient of the Dr. Donna J. Streufert Leadership Award, Katelyn Schneider. The Streufert Award recognizes one or more female students at Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) and Concordia University Ann Arbor (CUAA) whom have demonstrated exceptional and/or unusual servant leadership as demonstrated by Jesus Christ. Miss Neumeyer was selected to receive the award for her exemplary leadership at CUW, which includes a $500 scholarship and plaque of recognition on the CUW campus.

Katelyn Schneider is a Wisconsin native and senior in the Bachelors of Nursing program at Concordia University Wisconsin.  While attending CUW, Katelyn has been involved in multiple ministries and loves attending events that the various ministries hold.  She regularly attends Haven, Street Team, Habitat for Humanity, occasional LIGHT events, evening services, the small group Bible study “R8”, daily chapel services and The Hiding Place.  During her freshman year,  she was heavily involved with Nursing Home Ministry and then served as a ministry co-leader for it during her sophomore year.  During her junior year, she served as the Service to Milwaukee Branch Coordinator on the CMLT Coordinating Council and loved overseeing the four ministries in her branch.  She has been elected as her senior year’s President of Campus Ministry.

Katelyn began leading nursing home ministry during her sophomore year  at CUW.  This leadership experience has taught Katelyn how to communicate better with others and plan events to meet multiple requests or suggestions.  In addition, she has seen two homes built by Habitat for Humanity, homeless people fed on the streets of Milwaukee with Street Team, and the glow on audience members faces after performing touching music with the Wind Ensemble.

In addition to her other volunteer service positions,  Katelyn was blessed to attend a spring service trip to Ensenada, Mexico through the CUW School of Nursing cultural immersion and global education courses.  It was her first time attending a medical mission trip, and a formal mission trip in general.  With her mission group, she set up clinics in various locations and were able to provide healthcare to individuals who have poor access to routine care.

Looking to the future,  Katelyn intends to continue developing as a servant leader by first, being aware of what opportunities God calls her to while taking time to seek out those in need of hearing the Gospel message.  She did not develop her current leadership skills overnight and knows that she still have a lot of growing to do.   As she completes her studies at CUW and enters her career in nursing home ministry, she plans to continue participating in WLI workshops.

Congratulations Katelyn and God’s blessings on your leadership development and career in nursing home care!

Leading in Blue Jeans: Dressing for Success in God’s Eyes

by Allison Baltzersen

How we define success and who we are seeking to impress dictates how we dress as a leader.

I recently attended a WLI event in which I was surrounded by other leaders from a variety of professions.  I noticed quickly that they were dressed up.  Like dry-clean-only suits and beige pumps dressed up.  And as I sat there, I began to feel insecure about my wardrobe, my influence, my ability to lead.

You see, I hold an MBA and have managed a San Francisco law firm for the last nine years, growing it from a solo practice to a busy group of attorneys.  I volunteer my time with Lutheran organizations, consulting on marketing teams to improve their online presence.  On paper, I look like a leader. By email, I sound like a leader.  But in person, I don’t look like a leader.  When you meet me, you learn one quirk: I do all of this from my home on the East Coast where I homeschool my daughters, so I’m likely wearing blue jeans, t-shirt and sneakers at my laptop.  I have no one in my home besides children to impress and I feel constricted in clothes I can’t bend in or fear staining.  Since I’ve been telecommuting for years now, my wardrobe has devolved into a capsule wardrobe of faded machine washables.  And for the most part, this doesn’t bother me. That is, until I meet other leaders who dress “the part.”

I clearly perceived these well-dressed women at the WLI event as LEADERS.  Their presence commanded the room.  I looked down at my shoes and wondered if they thought the same of me.  Are they more of a leader than I am simply because of how they are dressed?  Maybe the pumps do matter.  Our society seems to suggest as much.

The motivational speaker Brian Tracy famously said, “Dress for success. Image is very important. People judge you by the way you look on the outside.”  But how we define success and who we are seeking to impress dictates how we dress for it.

1.  Define Your Success

There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. – 1 Corinthians 12:5-6

 I realize now that I felt self-conscious around those other leaders at the WLI event because I failed to recognize that not all leaders need to dress to command a room and not all leaders define success the same way.  We are all leaders, but we have been called to serve in a wide variety of roles and professions (1 Peter 4:10-11).    Each profession defines success differently and dictates wardrobe decorum differently.  A college professor may define success as becoming Dean, or a young lawyer may define success as becoming managing partner.  In the professions of academia and law, success requires dressing up in a way that projects authority to impress others.  And there is plenty of evidence proving it works.

Recent studies in the Journal of Experimental Psychology and Social Psychological have shown that dressing up boosts the wearer’s perceived power, giving them confidence to negotiate more effectively and think more abstractly.

But what if you work in a profession like early childhood education in which a sophisticated wardrobe can actually hinder success?  Stylists warn about dressing up to the point of intimidating others.  Toddlers seek teachers that are approachable, not starched.  So, are preschool teachers unable to effectively lead because they can’t dress up in the same way a lawyer or executive does?  Obviously not.  The “part” they dress for is their classroom, not a boardroom.  So obviously clothing, in itself, does not make a leader.  But we still need to wear something.  How do we know what outfit is best for our leadership style and position?

When we choose clothing, we’re thinking about form and function.  Form being the shape, comfort and capability of the pieces, and function being the intended purpose of the outfit.  We try an outfit on and approve of the form: it looks flattering, slims the waist, lengthens the leg.  But what about that function:  Why do we like the look of the outfit?  Is the intent to impress others?  And if so, who?  Who is our judge?

2.  Identify Your Judge

Do not look on his [Saul’s] appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him.  For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7

In 1 Samuel, we learn that Saul had a handsome physique and wore royal clothes, which by societal standards should have made him a logical candidate for the position of power.  He was dressed for success.  But God wasn’t looking for those characteristics in the next leader of Israel.  Instead God chose little David, because of his heart, not his wardrobe.  So, when Brian Tracy says people judge you by the way you look on the outside, he’s completely right.  People do.  But people aren’t the judge we should be impressing.  God is, and he’s not looking at our shoes.

Dress in a way that gives you confidence to fully command your role in whatever profession you work.  But be wary of dressing up with the sole intent to impress people around you because, while they may judge you, they don’t control your destiny.  Proverbs 31:30 advises, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Our physical beauty and attractive wardrobe may carry us a distance on this Earth, but they are not the lasting qualities that matter most.  God knows exactly what role we are going to fulfill to his glory, and He knows how high up that professional ladder we will climb.  We can certainly wear pretty clothes that impress our coworkers and boss, but our wardrobe can’t guarantee that next promotion.

My coworkers can’t see me when I work from home, so I dress in clothes that feel comfortable and unrestrictive to me, to both work on my laptop and engage with my young daughters who do see me every day.  Blue jeans and sneakers have become my style, and they have been serving me well in the unique leadership opportunities God has put before me.  I do not need to compare myself to other leaders because they are dressing in their style for their unique leadership opportunities.  How does your unique style serve you as a leader?

3.  Define Your Own Style

Some women prefer wearing pumps, others sandals, and yet others, sneakers.  God doesn’t care which pair you wear.  Define your own style based on what makes you feel comfortable, confident and capable for the tasks before you.  John the Baptist felt most comfortable, confident and capable wearing camel furs during his ministry.  That was his thing.  If you are an executive engaging with other professionals and feel most capable in a suit, wear the suit.  That is your thing.  And, if you are like me and work from home and feel capable to tackle life in blue jeans, wear the jeans.

But as you dress in whatever comfortable, confident, capable outfit you choose, take Ephesians 6:10-18 to heart:

Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. – Ephesians 6:10-18

Our Earthly wardrobe will one day be eaten by moths, but the full armor of God will endure eternally and it looks good on everyone.

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Allison Baltzersen serves on the WLI Marketing and Communications work team as the social media and online presence coordinator.

Christian Women in Leadership: Gloria Nelund

Gloria Nelund has been blessed with a life characterized by great success is business and constant, faithful service to her Lord with her God-given talents and abilities. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with Chairman & CEO of TriLinc Global, an impact investing firm that she founded three years after her “retirement” from a 26-year career on Wall Street in the global asset management business. While she doesn’t hold a formal degree, she did study Elementary Education at the University of Dayton and graduated from an Executive Program at the University of Virginia, Darden School. Gloria is also a speaker at the upcoming WLI National Conference where she will lead a workshop on “Letting God Lead.”

We asked her a few questions about her job and her views on Christian leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job?  

Solving problems and helping people.

How would you define Christian leadership?

Being called by God to a position of influence and then using that influence to do what you were called to do in the best way possible, and through it all, showing God’s love to others through your relationships and interactions with them.

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

It’s how I live my life. From 2005 – 2007, I was on what I call my “wilderness journey.” During that journey, I had time to dive deep into Bible study and really reflect on my business life. And one of the things I realized is that my Christian values are what actually defined how I worked my whole life.  Literally, all the things that made me successful, all my “lessons learned,” the things I would give talks about, all had their root in the Bible. Every single one of them. So, my Christian values are reflected in everything I do.

The other “aha” I had is that there is a difference between “evangelizing” in the workplace and living out your Christian values at work. Every day, I strive to live a life that honors God. Sometimes that includes sharing my faith with someone God has put on my heart and sometimes it is just working hard, solving problems and helping people.

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?     

Absolutely. In 2005, at the age of 44, following a very successful 26-year career on Wall Street, I retired because I really felt there must be some other purpose for my life. I was ready to take on the world—I was on a mission to find my purpose and finally live out my “calling.”  And, for the next three years I worked hard to discover that purpose. I joined several women’s Bible studies, participated in Half Time training/discovery, taught a bible study, read everything I could find about finding your purpose and even took the Master’s Program for Women. I call it my “wilderness journey” because I really felt that I was lost in the wilderness. I was frustrated that God wasn’t using me for some great purpose.

And then, one day, as I was quietly listening to the Lord (instead of complaining), He told me to invite a close friend to Bible study, which ultimately led her to accepting Jesus as her Lord and Savior. In the months that followed, I started wondering if that was actually my purpose in life. Finally, I felt like God was asking me, “What if that was your only purpose for being here, to be there at just the moment she needed an invitation to Bible study. Will that be ok with you?” I’ll be honest, I struggled with it for a while, and it wasn’t until I was truly ok with it, where I could honestly say “my life was definitely worth my friend coming to know Jesus,” that God began to show me a bigger purpose for my life.

The Lord began to demonstrate to me that business was my calling. All along my job had been my mission field and over a period of about three months, I randomly began to hear from former colleagues and business associates whose lives I had touched in my career, that I never knew were watching me.  I was never an evangelist but I’ve also never hidden my faith. If someone asked, I was more than delighted to talk about it, but, most of the time, it was just how I lived my life and conducted business.  And even though at the time I didn’t know it mattered, I feel very blessed to learn that it did.

How does working in a religious or secular setting change the way you lead as a Christian?

It really doesn’t. I live out my faith in my life every day in every setting. Early in my career, I adopted three principles that I would follow all of my life: I would work really hard; I would solve problems; and I would help people. The first meant that when I finished an assignment I would look for another one. I was always asking for more to do. It was much later in my career when I realized that not everybody did that! In the second one, I found that I enjoyed making processes efficient, finding a better way to do something. And in the third area, I found joy in making other people successful.

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

“And whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace? 

Daily time with God and in the Word. In the hectic pace of business, it is easy to get caught up in the trappings around you: to lose perspective. I find that I need to take time each day to get centered, to gain a larger perspective, and to reconnect with purpose and goals that are bigger than me. Many people think they are too busy to do this, but I have found it essential.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

I love answering this question because it is not what anyone would expect me to say, but, my best advice is to find a really great husband. I could never have done all that I’ve done without a really great husband—one who has supported me, encourages my walk with the Lord, who takes care of everything at home, and proves incredible emotional support. I probably didn’t appreciate it as much as I do now, but I have to say it’s what I know allowed me to be stable and just continue doing what I did. 


Gloria Nelund spent 30 years on Wall Street as one of the most successful and visible executives in the international investment management industry.   After retiring from Deutsche Bank as CEO of their $50 billion North America Private Wealth Management division, she co-founded TriLinc Global; an investment firm dedicated to launching and managing innovative impact investment funds that will exponentially increase private capital participation to help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. For more from Gloria, check out her article, Business as a Calling.

Christian Women in Leadership: Rachel Morton

For Rachel Morton, an important part of being a Christian leader is recognizing our own fallibility and need for God’s grace as we lead others in Christian love. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with Rachel Morton, Assistant Worship Director at St. John’s Lutheran Church in West Bend, WI. Since July 2012, she has spent her time directing choirs, writing worship services & school chapel services, overseeing traditional worship services and the groups that serve in them, and overseeing the women’s retreat committee. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Parish Music (double emphasis in piano and organ) with a Theology Minor and a Master of Church Music (emphasis in choral conducting) from Concordia University Wisconsin.

We asked Rachel a few questions about her job and her views on Christian Leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job?

I love the relational aspect of my job (and that my job allows me the time and opportunity to be relational). Working with people isn’t always the easiest thing in the world, but it’s so rewarding! I love walking with people through the joys and struggles of their lives, even if it means walking them through conflicts. I love watching them have these “light bulb moments” when they can personally connect with what it means to be a loved and forgiven child of God and the impact that has not only on their service within worship ministry and the church, but also the impact it has on their relationships with family and friends and co-workers and the impact it has on how they live their lives. There’s nothing better than watching someone know and feel God’s love and getting to be a part of that journey with them!

How would you define Christian leadership?

Christian leadership is both leading AND following. It means humbling ourselves to follow God’s will (to love Him and serve Him with all that we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves) and then leading people to follow it as well (and to come back to it when they stray). It means leading with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control, and realizing that when (not if, but when) we fall short, there is a time and place to practice repentance and forgiveness. Christian leadership is leadership with integrity that leans hard into God’s grace and love at all times and in all circumstances.

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

You would think that working in a church would make it much easier to live out Christian values, but that isn’t always the case. The church is full of sinful, imperfect people just like anywhere else, and I am definitely one of them! I bring my Christian values into the workplace when I acknowledge that I personally need to practice daily repentance and forgiveness, to speak the truth in love (even when it’s hard or met with opposition), to respect the authority of those I work under even when I don’t agree with them (and to refrain from criticizing them when I don’t agree), and to be a godly team member and not a “glory hog.” The Lord knows I don’t do any of this perfectly, but I try to be a person of integrity and to be consistent in living out my values; they should be the same whether I’m at home or at work.

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

I remember struggling part of the way through college with what I actually wanted to do with my life, which was strange because I’ve known since I was 12 that I wanted to pursue music as a career and since I was 15 that I wanted to pursue a calling to serve as a church musician. I struggled through a lot of personal issues and life circumstances that made me wonder if music was where God was calling me. I thought I might be better served to change my major and go into counseling or even social work because I felt this strong pull toward a profession that would allow me to help people. I sought advice from people who I knew cared deeply for me and who would support me in whatever decision I made, I spent time in prayer and in God’s Word, and in the end I had to just trust that God would guide me to where He wanted me.

I finished my degree in church music, and then the time came for some big decisions: 1) to continue on in school to get my masters in church music, 2) to go to St. Louis to get a degree in deaconess studies with a counseling emphasis, 3) to pray for a call to take me home to Texas, or 4) to accept the call that was coming in from St. John’s in West Bend (WI) to be their Assistant Worship Director. After a lot of prayer, I felt a pull to follow God’s call to St. John’s, and I have been so blessed in that decision. It has not always been my ideal and every now and then I do wonder if this what I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life, but I do know that right now I am blessed. I have learned and grown so much as a leader through my job, it gave me the opportunity through proximity to complete my masters in church music at CUW, and allowed me to see that I don’t need a counseling degree to be able to help people through the trials in their life (and it’s put me in a position to do that). It wasn’t easy to trust God each step of the way, but I am glad that He led me down the path that He did.

How does working in a religious or secular setting change the way you lead as a Christian?

I don’t think that working in a religious setting changes HOW I lead as a Christian, but it definitely heightens my awareness that people watch to see how Christians lead (both inside and outside of religious settings). If nothing else, working in a religious setting helps to keep me accountable to my Christian values.

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

I look up to people that I can see making a difference in the world or an impact for the Gospel of Christ (coincidentally, some of them are women that are speaking at the Gifted to Influence Conference or were highly involved in putting it together!). That is something that I hope and pray that I am doing or am able to do one day.

On a more personal front, my mentor from age 14 to now, Martha Garmon, has been the biggest role model in my life. When I was younger she modeled a strong work-ethic that helped drive me through high school and college. She modeled respect for my parents and those in authority, she modeled integrity in her job (as a worship director for our church) and in her personal life, and now as an adult/peer she continues to model all of those things as well as what it means to be a godly wife, mother, sister, friend, and what it means to be a woman of Christian influence. I owe so much of my character and value development to her!

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership?

Two scripture passages come to mind when I think about my values as a Christian leader, and I cannot really choose between the two.

The first is my confirmation verse (that has become my life verse): “And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses all knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:17b-19). This verse reminds me of what my foundation is: the love of Christ that makes me a part of the kingdom of God. God’s love is something that fills my heart and life to overflowing and influences everything that I do. It’s a reminder of what I am working for: to spread the love of Christ that I have been privileged and blessed to know!

The second verse is one I find myself turning to when I wonder what God’s will for my life is or when I’m faced with difficult decisions (both as a Christian and as a Christian leader). “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it,” (Isaiah 30:21). No matter what I may be facing in life, I need to trust that God is leading and guiding and working things out for the good, even when I can’t see what that is yet.

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace?

I think having Christian mentors, leaders, pastors, and teachers to look up to during my “formative years” prepared me the most to be a Christian leader once I entered the workplace. Really, those people (men and women) prepared me to be not only a Christian leader but also a “decent human being,” if you want to think of it that way. They modeled Christian living as something that affects all aspects of my life, not just my leadership.

 What challenges do you face as a Christian leader in your workplace?

I think fatigue (physical and emotional/mental) is one of my biggest challenges to face in Christian leadership. I don’t think any of us should ever underestimate the impact that our words and actions—our leadership—can have on the lives of those we interact with every day. At the same time, being so aware of the people around us and then trying to figure out how to meet their needs can be tiring (or even exhausting) after a while. So it’s been an important part of my leadership to have “safe places” where I can go to talk through my thoughts or my feelings as they relate to leadership. Those conversations are usually reserved for my mentors or for colleagues who are experiencing a lot of the same issues. It’s just important to have a place of support (where I can both receive and give it) to help combat the fatigue that could lead to burnout.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Don’t ever try to go through life alone. Leaders especially need people in their lives to give them moral and physical support, to hold them accountable, to pray for and with them, and to remind them that they don’t have to be “perfect” all the time. If we’re being transparent, I don’t know what I would do without those ladies in my life with whom I can laugh and cry and talk about anything. Sometimes we just need someone to “be real” with so we can continue to be encouraged for the tasks that God has given us to do.

Christian Women in Leadership: Linda Maris

According to Linda Maris, we need two things to make us good Christian leaders: to understand ourselves as unique creations of God and to rely on Him guide us through the right path. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out we caught up with Linda Maris who has been the President of the National Christian Foundation, Wisconsin (NCF WI) for the past 8 years. The purpose of NCF is to spread the joy of living a generous life. They work to simplyify charitable giving, multiply the impact of charitable gifts, and to build the Kingdom of God. She holds a B.S. from UW-LaCrosse and a J.D. from Marquette University Law School. Linda is also a speaker at the upcoming WLI National Conference where she will lead a workshop on A Confident L.I.F.E of Generosity – What’s in it for you?

We asked her a few questions about her job and her views on Christian leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job? 

Generosity! Everything that we do at NCF is tied to encouraging individuals to live generous lives. And that makes me strive to be more generous through NCF and in my life!

How would you define Christian leadership?

Christian leadership is the understanding and application of two important truths—that each of us is individually created and that there are people and possessions that are placed in our care.  Much has been written about Steward Leadership.  First, Christian leaders embrace and use their unique God-given gifts and don’t focus on who or what they are not. Second, Christian leaders wisely steward what has been entrusted to them. The organizations and positions where we have been placed are not ours but God’s. God is the one who opens doors, provides opportunities, grows the organizations, and ensures the success. This realization took tremendous personal pressure off of me. My role is to simply nurture and care for the many assets of NCF WI—donors, relationships, Board, staff, budget, facilities, time, etc.…

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

It is no longer an issue! NCF is a Christian organization and fortunately my life and work are totally integrated. I pray a lot and try to serve with the love of Christ.

Can you remember a specific experience where you relied on your Christian faith or values to lead you through a tough decision or important task?

I have learned that if I am feeling uneasy or stressed about a decision I need to make, I need to take a pause because God is not in it and I need to wait on Him. Conversely, there have also been times when I should have been anxious about certain circumstances, but was not, and rested in the fact that God must be in it and was already working it out!

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

Definitely, in the years leading up to NCF WI. I felt that God was preparing me for something much different than the practice of law. I prayed a lot about God’s purpose for my life and the consistent answer was to just be patient. It payed off because had I initiated my own plan it would have been a much different story!

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

I have always been encouraged by Romans 8:28 which reassures me that God works for the good in my life regardless of how bad things may seem. After moving from the legal profession to NCF WI, I realized how applicable this passage was to my work. As leaders, we can personally carry the weight of success for our organization, but when things don’t go as we have planned we can rest knowing that we don’t always see God’s bigger picture.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace? 

Relying on God in all I do. God is the secret sauce for all Christian leaders! I now realize that all I have are gifts from God—my calling to NCF WI, life experiences and opportunities, education, personality, intellect, strengths, and leadership ability. I cannot take any credit for these gifts but can strive to use them to the best of my ability.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Research shows that becoming an exceptional leader is half nature (your DNA) and half nurture (what you learn). This is good news because we can control a lot on how we lead. Start by understanding how you are wired. I have learned much about myself, how I make decisions, what drives me, and how I lead from self-assessment tools. You can take advantage of these self-assessment tools and embrace who you are and the strengths that God has uniquely given to you. Then commit to becoming a better leader. The resources are vast: books, conferences, websites, organizations. Enjoy the journey!

Linda Maris is the President at National Christian Foundation Wisconsin. She serves families & women, businesses, financial service advisors, ministries and churches with their charitable giving needs. Her vision is to continue to spread the message of generosity so that all can “excel in the grace of giving”.

Christian Women in Leadership: Connie Denninger

For Connie Denninger, being a Christian leader is all about taking every opportunity to assist others on their journey and approaching new tasks with authenticity and humility. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with Connie Denninger, Co-founder of Visual Faith Ministries and long-time friend and supporter of WLI. She holds an AA from Concordia College, Ann Arbor, a BA in Home Economics Education from Valparaiso University, a Master’s in Secondary Education from Indiana University, and a Master’s in Church and Community Leadership from Concordia University, Chicago. She is also speaking at the upcoming WLI National Conference where she will lead a workshop on Living as a Deployed Digital Missionary.

We asked Connie a few questions about her job and her views on Christian Leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job?                      

Discipling others who disciple others and looking for every opportunity to equip the laity for Gospel sharing experiences.

How would you define Christian leadership?

Christian leadership involves the continual learning process of engaging others in your circle of influence to establish relationships that allow you to relate to the culture but always with Kingdom views.

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

A challenge is to live the same “real” life in the public realm while managing the values of always being: available, affirming, accountable, and authentic.

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

I think this would be my story just about every day. The goal is to find enough light shed on the path for just the very next right step and then trust. I am thinking especially about the decision to go back to college for a Master’s degree at age 51.

How does working in a religious or secular setting change the way you lead as a Christian?

We live in a rather sheltered “Christian bubble” sometimes, and my work with Visual Faith Ministries keeps me connected there, but with all sorts of possibilities to intersect with those who do not yet know Jesus.

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

I have been blessed to have some wonderful spiritual mentors in my life. Two women “ahead of me” a bit, Lola and Rae, have been deeply nurturing supporters of my own spiritual formation journey.

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

Repeatedly in the past few years I keep coming back to Esther 4:14b, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace?

I believe that not having the needed skill set has always kept me humble and in learning mode. This time of discomfort allows the Lord to lead and having little monetary resources for my vision has caused me to be creative.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Form a team of others willing to learn along the way and don’t let the questions stop you from moving forward; then pray hard.

Christian Women in Leadership: Gretchen Jameson

Gretchen Jameson strives to live a life fully immersed in her Christian identity so whether she is leading or taking the lead, she is guided by God’s work in her life. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with Gretchen Jameson, Senior Vice President of Strategy and University Affairs at Concordia University Wisconsin. She holds a B.S. in Education from Concordia University Nebraska, a M.A. in Public Relations from Webster University, and is currently working on her doctoral degree at the University of Southern California. Gretchen is also a speaker at the upcoming WLI National Conference where she will lead a workshop on Living a Life of Radical Influence.

We asked her a few questions about her job and her views on Christian leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job? 

People. People. People. Relationships make the world go ‘round. It’s ALL about the people: those I lead, those I encourage, and those I serve.

How would you define Christian leadership?

In the strictest sense, Christian leadership is that leadership tethered to Kingdom mission, but my hunch is that’s not what this question is asking. Here’s a provocative consideration: I once heard a baptized statesman, who serves our country at the highest levels, say that there’s “no such thing as Christian leadership. There’s just excellent leadership. And there’s no such thing as Christian business. There’s just ethical business.” He was not trying to diminish the faith, but rather he was challenging us to think carefully about applying the Christian label to manmade terms. If we want to define ‘Christian leadership,’ isn’t that just any leadership done by Christian people? As a baptized child of God (a Christian), my leadership is simply defined as the very best I can bring into the contexts to which God leads me, where I use the unique talents and giftedness He has granted me to their fullest extent.

Can you remember a specific experience where you relied on your Christian faith or values to lead you through a tough decision or important task?

That’s tough, because faith is my baptism identity and its core teachings are bedrock, so it’s hard to imagine a specific time when who I am created to be, by God’s grace, all the time took the lead. BUT I could tell you infinite stories where my sinful self has unfortunately come to the forefront. I think as women leaders who are Christ-followers, it’s that daily battle with our “old Eve” that wars for our mind and spirit. The temptation to lead from a position of power, prestige, or entitlement can corrupt so swiftly!

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

Certainly! Many times. I don’t know that I would consider God’s plans “bigger,”—my life and leadership are hardly center stage events—and I also don’t subscribe to a view of God’s work in my life as sort of steering me along a set path (which defeats our Lutheran theology of the free will), BUT what I have come to see throughout my ministry and my career is that God’s purpose is worked out in every and all circumstances. Have I taken the pass on a big opportunity and seen it work to His purpose? Yes. Have I made a major leap totally uncertain of the outcome and watched Him make something incredible out of the experience? Absolutely. BUT, and this is the critical thing, in every instance, I could have opted for the other path, chosen door ‘B’ instead of door ‘A’, and I am certain He would have worked beauty in that, too. God graces our lives with a bounty of options. When we are fervent in our walk, and close to Him through Word and sacrament, He blesses us with discernment. What a freeing truth!

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

Women, of both large influence and minor opportunities alike, who overcome adversity to solve problems, shape communities, and make their world a better place for their children and their neighbors.

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace? 

I am a Christian, who happens to be in a position of leadership. My career journey has certainly forged me to lead well. My identity in Baptism is as close to me as my own DNA. I wouldn’t know how to lead apart from that core.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Begin with humility. Assume that every encounter into which you are led, every individual you are blessed to impact, every assignment you complete, and every project you launch is an opportunity to serve, to learn, and to grace that moment. When we begin with humility, we recognize the myriad of teachers and experts around us, and we are led to lead with greater and greater depth and purpose.

Gretchen Jameson currently serves as Sr. Vice President for Strategy and University Affairs at Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor, Mich. Gretchen, her husband, Leon and their two young daughters reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Christian Women in Leadership: Wendysue Fluegge

Wendysue Fluegge is a Christian musician who in all things strives for confidence, humility, and a connection to God’s Word.  Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with Wendysue Fluegge a musician who heads her own ministry as speaker and traveling worship leader.  A graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin, Wendysue has been the worship leader for the past two WLI National Conferences.

We asked her a few questions about her job and her views on Christian leadership.

What’s the favorite part of your job?

Here are a few of my favorite things: enhancing spiritual relationships with God and His people through songs, connecting with churches all over the country, enjoying the freedom of my own scheduling, and the blessing of travel.

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

The women in my life growing up were strong leaders. My sister, mom, aunt, both grandmas, and my mother-in-law are all women of faith with good decision-making skills and concern for others. They all display great confidence yet are humble. And they all have a love for God’s word.   I realize now what a beautiful and rare gift that was – and still is!

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

“Do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment in accordance with the faith God has distributed… “Romans 12:3

What challenges do you face as a Christian leader in your workplace?

Since I am in ministry, some of the challenges I face personally and that I see in others are 1) pride, 2) apathy, 3)  false expectations of shared faith values, 4) saying the wrong thing or being too zealous and appearing judgmental or self-righteous, and 5) temptation to go through the motions of worship without really engaging the heart.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Stay connected to the word of God!  Be consistent and obedient in nurturing your own spirit.  Get connected to others who have the same goal of faith growth.   Practice your bold words and actions.  Stay thankful and fully aware of God’s presence at all times.

Intentional Influence through Writing

by Peggy Kuethe

Words are transformative.

Recall Genesis 1 when God spoke the universe into existence, and Genesis 3:15 when He spoke the promise of a Redeemer. Recall John 2:1-11, when Jesus spoke the water into wine and 1 Peter 1:3 where He gives us new life in Him. God’s words have immeasurable transformative power.

Language is an intentional gift from God. He also intends for us to use words to communicate with Him and with others.  It is the foundation of our relationships.

You are fashioned in the image of a creative God. He gives you words and language, a mind and a heart and a voice. Along with that comes the desire to connect with others, to establish community, to form social bonds. Perhaps, as you do, you feel compelled to share a message, to communicate from your Spirit-inspired point of view. Sometimes a few words via Twitter or Facebook just aren’t enough. You want more space to express your thoughts, to tell your story. You want … to write a blog or a book or a Bible study!

Our words cannot do such miraculous things as transforming one thing into another thing or to give life where there is none. But they have transformative, intentional power. One of the most exciting ways you can influence others is through the written word made public. Thanks to technological advances and the Internet, publishing has never been easier. If you want to publish, you can.

Perhaps you’ve heard that eight out of ten people say they want to (or “should”) write a book. It sounds so simple. Write it. Publish it. Check that off your bucket list.

On the surface, it really is that simple. Scratch that surface though, and things begin to get a little complicated. Writing can be tedious. Publishing can be difficult. And selling—that’s a real challenge.

Eight out of ten say they want to publish, but how many do it? If just one person gets it done, why not let it be you? After all, the Holy Spirit may be nudging you. Your best friend is encouraging you. The members of your Bible study group are asking you. But where do you begin?

First, you write.

  • Every writer discovers a process and a work style that, well, “works.” An hour first thing every morning. One day a month sequestered with the computer. Midnight the day before a deadline. Something in the middle is more likely. Find what suits you and stick with it.
  • Decide what to write and who you are writing to.
  • Edit. Revise. Repeat. (A few writers get it perfect the first time. Most don’t.) (Don’t even ask me how many false starts I made while writing this short article!)

Second, you publish.

  • Make an informed decision between traditional publishing and self-publishing.
  • Market, promote, and sell. The work you do after you write, regardless which publishing route you choose, is key to getting your message out there, to making it public. (See the second bullet point above.)

I’m writing this on a Monday. Yesterday, one of our communion hymns was “Take My Life, and Let It Be.” The third stanza brought to mind all of you: “Take my voice, and let me sing / Always, only, for my King; / Take my lips, and let them be / Filled with messages from Thee.”

As Christian writers, we have the responsibility—and the joy—of filling our messages with the hope, peace, mercy, comfort, and truth that are Christ’s own Gospel. Let us serve Him with our talents and our words!

Peggy Kuethe is the Senior Editor of Women’s Resources and Children’s Books at Concordia Publishing House. Peggy has worked in the publishing industry since high school (if you count the yearbook and student newspaper, that is). In the years since, she has worked as a newspaper reporter, periodicals editor and writer, marketing copywriter, and book editor.

Christian Women in Leadership: Peggy Kuethe

For Peggy Kuethe, Christian leadership is all about keeping Christ at the core of all she does. Read on….

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

Peggy Kuethe is a Senior Editor at Concordia Publishing House in St. Louis, Missouri—where she has worked for 20 years. She has BA in English and Journalism from Illinois State University and an MA in English from Southern Illinois University. She has served on the WLI Board in the past and is now a WLI ambassador. She has been a presenter at previous WLI conferences and will be talking about “Christian Writing for Publication” at the Gifted to Influence Conference.

We asked Peggy a few questions about her job and her views on Christian Leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job? 

I often tell people that I have the best job at CPH—I am privileged to do what I’m good at, where I want to do it, and with people I want to be with—all to the glory of God! (That’s my favorite part.)

How would you define Christian leadership?

Christian leadership is most effective when Christ is at the core of what we do and when we use our gifts, talents, abilities, and interests with that uppermost in mind. Our Lord will guide us to serve where and how He wills. Sometimes that means stepping out of our comfort zone to take the help, speak up, get our hands dirty. And sometimes that means stepping back to let someone else take on those tasks. We can’t all be in charge all the time. When we prayerfully consider what is asked of us and what is asked of others, we lead … even when we follow!

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

The Christian workplace is like any other workplace in that we have daily work to do, and we bring our sinful human nature into every task. Sometimes, because it’s a Christian workplace, Satan works overtime to thwart our mission and to separate us from God. What’s wonderful about bringing Christian values into a Christian workplace is that we can openly point out when that happens and pray together and pray for one another. At CPH, our mission is clear and we know that every job and every task has a purpose.

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

Prior to coming to CPH, I worked at a company where I did not fit in. At all. On my way home from work every day, I drove under an over pass where someone repeatedly sprayed graffiti. No matter how many times the state workers cleaned off the graffiti or painted over it, within a day or so it would be back. The graffiti was in the form of two words: Trust Jesus. I would see those words every evening, Monday through Friday, and pray, “Okay, Lord. I will. I’m not happy, but I trust You.” It took four years, but eventually I was hired at CPH for my dream job. I drive the same way home, but the graffiti no longer appears. It could have been a coincidence, but I choose to believe that God used that anonymous graffiti artist to give me the assurance I needed. There is no question that that prior job prepared me for this one. I just had to trust for God’s bigger plan for me.

How does working in a religious or secular setting change the way you lead as a Christian?

I am blessed to work in an organization that applies God’s Word to every situation. When I’m called upon to lead, I follow that example with confidence.

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

There are so many people, I don’t even know where to begin!

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace? 

Years and years ago, I was appointed to fill a vacant spot on our little Lutheran school’s board for Christian day school. That one-year appointment turned into nine years of service, including six as our 150-year-old congregation’s first female school board chair. You can imagine the countless opportunities I had to learn about teamwork, leadership, compromise, and mission. It was a beautiful lesson of faith that God will always provide.

What challenges do you face as a Christian leader in your workplace?

I am my own worst enemy, so the challenges I face are self-inflicted. When I pray first and act second, the result is always gratifying.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Your local congregation is not only a good place to learn the mechanics and nuances of leadership, it might be precisely where the Lord is leading you to serve. We might not see the ripple effect of even the smallest role until later.

Peggy Kuethe is the Senior Editor of Women’s Resources and Children’s Books at Concordia Publishing House. Peggy has worked in the publishing industry since high school (if you count the yearbook and student newspaper, that is). In the years since, she has worked as a newspaper reporter, periodicals editor and writer, marketing copywriter, and book editor.

Christian Women in Leadership: Dr. Tamara Ferry

Dr. Tamara Ferry works each day to educate Christian leaders by helping them serve with the gifts God has given them. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with friend of WLI and past presenter Tamara Ferry who is the Director of Institutional Research and Director of Assessment for the School of Pharmacy at Concordia University Wisconsin. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Concordia College, Portland, an M.S. in Secondary School Guidance Counseling from St. Cloud State University, and a Ph.D. in Urban Education and Education Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Tamara is all a speaker at the upcoming WLI National Conference where she will lead a workshop on Identity Theft: Putting on Christ, an Identity the World Can’t Steal!

We asked her a few questions about her job and her views on Christian leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job?

Everyday I’m amazed at how the responsibilities and expectations of my job build on and match the interest and skills the Lord has given me.  I’m so thankful for my calling here at Concordia and I’m blessed to work in a position where my gifts and the needs of the university overlap. So, I guess my favorite part of my job is the sense of purpose I feel every day.

How would you define Christian leadership?

I would say that for me Christian leadership means living my life centered on where and how the Lord has called me: living my vocation basically. Such as living my vocation as a spouse by being the best spouse I can be, living my vocation as a professional by being the best employee I can be. Christian leadership also entails servant leadership. As a servant leader, I try to serve and lead by helping those around me live their vocations.  In my relationships with colleagues and students at Concordia I find myself asking, “How can I help them be servant leaders?” “How can I encourage them, highlighting and acknowledging their gifts, calling, and vocation?”

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

I bring my Christian values to work by interacting with my colleagues and students in a way that I hope inspires them toward engagement…engaging in a life of service and leadership that comes from knowing we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus.

Can you remember a specific experience where you relied on your Christian faith or values to lead you through a tough decision or important task?

My professional role encompasses a multitude of tasks and responsibilities, most of which feel difficult to me!  So it’s hard to separate out a specific experience. I’m constantly relying on God’s guidance and strength in all my undertakings. But lately a tough challenge has been gaining a better understanding of the concept of “big data” and everything “big data” entails. We are working toward bringing all of our somewhat isolated and fragmented data structures into a “data warehouse” that will enable us to answer complex and strategic questions in a more consistent and timely fashion. The process and technology behind this project is tough for me to comprehend so I’m relying heavily on some very talented and smart colleagues!

Looking back is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

Well, 20 years ago when we received the call that Pat was chosen to be president of Concordia we were shocked!  At 38-years-old he had no administrative experience and we were completely planning on a cross-country move to Texas, where Pat had already accepted a new position. Our house was sold! But God’s plan was bigger so we trusted in His plan for our lives and how He would use us according to His will to fulfill His purpose.

Then, a couple years later, Pat asked me to take on my current position of being Concordia’s Director of Institutional Research. I said, “No way!” I really just wanted to teach and I thought this position sounded really hard and, frankly, boring. But here I am, 18 years later, working as both the Director of Institutional Research and Director of Assessment for the School of Pharmacy and loving it.

How does working in a religious or secular setting change the way you lead as a Christian?

Working in a religious setting allows me to freely convey my faith and express who God intended me to be.  It enhances my ability to reflect the love of God in Jesus in all of my conversations, meetings, decisions etc….  I hope my co-workers see that I’m grounded in the knowledge that God has a plan and that He is using me according to His purpose. The Lord says in Jeremiah 29, verse 11: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

The president of Concordia! Over the years, I’ve watched my husband solve complex problems and sticky situations with great integrity and strength. I’ve witnessed Pat’s tenacity, humility, and patience. He is steadfast, disciplined, and visionary. His faith is active in love! I can’t count the number of times Pat has encouraged, comforted, and inspired others through the gospel message. He’s also a loving and devoted husband, father, and grandpa and our family is his highest priority. For over 30 years he’s supported all of my personal and professional endeavors, encouraging me to fully use my talents however I’d like.

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

Be still and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace?

I’m a lifelong LCMS Lutheran and my passion for the value of a faith inspired university experience stems from the experiences I had growing up as a professor’s kid on the campus of a Lutheran college. In fact, after I was born my parents brought me home from the hospital to a college dorm where they lived as dorm counselors. So it feels like God has been preparing me for this work since the day I was born!

What challenges do you face as a Christian leader in your workplace?

The challenges I face stem from personal limitations. There are aspects of leadership that I don’t do very well, probably because I have a tendency to avoid risk and stay in my comfort zone. So my biggest challenges involve trusting and surrendering…trusting God’s plan and surrendering to His will.  Also technology!

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

My words of advice are God’s words, “Be still and know that I am God.” Leadership can be demanding and draining. So, don’t forget to take time to be fed and to rest in God’s promise of peace. When you’re having a crazy, hectic day, and your patience gets short remember these words – even better, say these words. “Be still and know that I am God.”  Your future is in God’s hands and He will carry you there.

Christian Women in Leadership: Janelle Fuhrmann

Janelle Fuhrmann’s leadership style stems from this idea: Don’t be afraid to live out your Christian faith in the workplace. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with Janelle Fuhrmann, Managing Partner Northeast Wisconsin and Upper Peninsula of Michigan Region for Thrivent Financial.  Janelle has worked her way up into her current leadership position during her 30 years with Thrivent. She holds a B.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, her CFP from the College for Financial Planning in Denver, CO, and her CHFC from the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, PA. Janelle is also speaking at the upcoming WLI National Conference where she will lead a workshop on Finding Spiritual Peace in Christian Leadership.

We asked Janelle a few questions about her job and her views on Christian Leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job? 

Encouraging and training our financial advisors to approach planning with their clients with a different point of view that links faith and finances together and leads people to be more generous in their lives.

How would you define Christian leadership?

Modeling Christian values in both your personal and work life to help and motivate others on their faith journey.

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

We pray before meetings and I let people know I’m praying for them during difficult times. We highlight activities within the workplace that foster sharing and generosity with others.

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan? 

I had some circumstances the last couple of years that made me question whether I wanted to continue in my leadership role, but God’s plan seemed to be steering me to stay. What I thought might be a time to do something different turned out to be a reawakening in spirit and a sign to continue the leadership journey where I’m working currently.

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

I would say my entire family, from my parents to my brothers to my husband of 24 years.

 Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership?

For God has not given a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.  2 Timothy 1:7

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace? 

My upbringing and being raised by parents who led with Christian values.  My dad was the mayor of our town and had a passion to help the community.  In addition, my parents sent my brothers and myself to a parochial school that helped instill Christian values.

I also have the benefit of working for an organization (Thrivent Financial) that helps people live out their values by linking faith and finances together.

My husband and I try to live out our faith in our community.  We have tried to instill the importance of these values to our children.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Don’t let fear stop you from carrying out your purpose in God’s plan. Remember that fear doesn’t come from Jesus; Jesus came to make us brave!

Being an Assertive Christian Woman

By Ruth Koch

Sometimes it seems like life is uphill all the way.  Someone is rude to you, verbally abusive, takes advantage of you—whatever—and you, being raised as many women are, to ‘make nice,’ just don’t know how to handle the situation.  If you make a big effort to ‘make nice’ with the person who is doing wrong, you will encourage the behavior and participate in their wrongdoing.  You don’t want to be the doormat woman who forfeits the respect of those around her.

And I’ll bet you’ve seen too many women who hold it in and hold it in and then just blow up, raining nasty words and red-hot anger and even hatred that has been fermenting for way too long.  You don’t want to be that woman who behaves aggressively—hurting others and later regretting it.

And, besides, you’re a Christian woman and that is at the very center of your identity.  You want to represent Christ well in all your interactions with others, but you may not be sure just how to balance the whole counsel of God which tells us, for example, to put the needs of others ahead of our own (Philippians 2:3) but also tells us to ‘look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others,’ (Philippians 2:4), affirming that it is appropriate to look to our own interests.  To untangle some of these competing instructions, we need to look at the concept of assertiveness, the healthy antidote to both passive and aggressive behaviors.

And thus we look to the Word, and to Jesus’ life, for the answer to this important life dilemma.  In the gospels, you can observe Jesus’ behaviors, His attitudes, His loving, compassionate interactions and His sometimes direct, fiery interactions as well.  Jesus embodied a higher law, the law of love.  Jesus was beautifully assertive in His interactions with others, discerning what would most effectively accomplish His goal of salvation and service.  The heart of assertive behavior is that it embodies both self respect and respect for others.

Mark 10:17-22 is the story of the rich young man who came to Jesus.  Quite proud of himself and determined not to be vulnerable, the rich young man asked Jesus what he must do to be saved.  Jesus knew his heart, wanted him to know salvation and began where the young man was by telling him that he must obey the commandments.  “No problem!  Been doing that all my life,” the young man answered.  And Jesus looked straight at him with love (v.21)How easy it would have been to dismiss this arrogant young man!  But Jesus loved him and wanted him to be a part of God’s kingdom.  So He looked into the young man’s heart, saw how it was tangled up in riches, and spoke assertively and directly to him: “Sell it all, give it to the poor and follow me.”  Jesus did not compromise His mission to bring salvation to this young man, nor did He mince words and try to make nice.  Too much was at stake!  His loving engagement reinforced His words.

Alas, we are told that the rich young man’s face fell, and “he went away sorrowful, because he was very rich” (v. 22).  Important to note that Jesus was loving, direct, focused on His own mission of redemption and fully engaged with this young man.  All that, however, did not guarantee that the man’s response would be to repent, sell and follow Jesus.  Behaving assertively does not guarantee success, but it greatly increases the likelihood that a genuine and authentic encounter will take place

At its heart, Christian assertiveness is dedicated to the welfare and respect of others as well as honoring a commitment to the mission and ministry set before each Christian.  An assertive Christian is not asserting rights, but is instead choosing behaviors that support, enhance and celebrate that Christian’s call to love and serve God and others, living out respect for self and the person God has created you to be—and respect for the other person as beloved and precious to God.

Christians can wade into messy situations and gather up our courage, knowing we are called to imitate the beautifully, lovingly assertive Christ.

Ruth N. Koch, M.A., NCC is a mental health educator and National Certified Counselor. Trained in both social work and counseling, she specializes in conflict management, grief education, and everyday mental health issues that impact personal and family relations. She is the co-author of Speaking the Truth in Love: How to Be an Assertive Christian, Stephen Ministries, St. Louis, MO. Come to the Gifted to Influence Conference in Milwaukee, WI September 29 – October 1 to hear Ruth’s presentation, “Neither Passive nor Aggressive:  The Assertive Christian Woman.”

Living as a Deployed Digital Missioner

by Connie Denninger—Visual Faith Ministries

Social media tools have become a part of our everyday life. How do we create the time and space for engagement that makes sense with all the things that juggle for our time? Part of the plan is to understand the niche for the story that we have as bearers of the Gospel message. This world is hungry for the hope that we have and social media tools bring us the means to share that Good News. We can use tools that are cost-effective—basically free, reach the world from our living room, and offer places of encouragement and even discipleship.

There is a spot for everyone. There are content creators and curators. Then the cheerleaders like, pin, and share. All three positions are necessary and everyone can hold multiple roles. Perhaps your niche is as educator: women’s ministry or Christian leadership in the workplace. In the amazing versatile role of women, we also serve as wives, sisters, mothers, and grandmothers and that brings more areas of passion and experience. What could we do to leverage the social media choices to bring framework to Christian parenting and impact the Lutheran school parent? What if a staff shared the task to bring the best insights, information, and encouragement to the church and school community that they serve?

So what is a missioner?  A missioner is a person sent by a church into an area to carry on evangelism or educational activities. It is a person strongly in favor of a set of principles and they live on mission. Perhaps it is time to sort that out and write a mission statement. For YOU have been called for “such a time as this” to use the technology of this age, to the end of this age. We don’t necessarily need to be sent by a church, as we have all been given the Great Commission to go and make disciples. What if we chose to use Facebook as a place to bring LIGHT to Social media and tell the story of what faith-life living looks like? There are the event invitations and glimpses of our everyday life. Perhaps we need to tell the story of who came, what happened when we gathered, and what we learned from each other when we were together. What is the AFTER STORY? Perhaps we could use a tool like the VRSLY app that creates a Word and world intersection in a shareable format.

An area of concern is the total amassed time spent on our virtual devices. The upcoming generation would probably state that their phones are their reality. That is also the perspective of a growing segment of adults. Managing the choices becomes the leverage that make sense in both the diversity of the options and the sinkhole possibilities of never ending “rabbit holes.” There also happens to be an app, Moment, that tracks the amount of time spent on our Smartphones. When we know our purpose for engagement, this gives parameters and clues for the best use of our time and energy. Learning about Visual Faith tools and the communities that support these practices has brought a framework for Christian engagement. We can share Good News promise in winsome ways to reach countries and people that we can only imagine impacting. When we couple social media presence with the work of the Holy Spirit and give free rein to His movement in the Kingdom, we are believers living as missionaries. What a blessing to be serving in this place in time, with Kingdom View eyes, in collaborative learning communities that delight in sharing the hope of the Gospel. Time to learn about deployment.

Connie Denninger is a family life educator, blogger, gardener, Kingdom Impact Pinner and Visual Faith Coach.  Connie loves beauty in the sacred space of home and is learning to live life as prayer. She is also an encourager, a mom, mate and Gigi to 4 little boys. Come hear her presentation, “Living As A Deployed Digital Missionary,” at the Gifted to Influence Conference in Milwaukee, WI September 29 – October 1.

Workplace Connections: The Blessings and Challenges of Being a Millennial and Working With One

By Rachel Morton & Rebekah Karolus

Generational studies are all the rage right now. Over the past five years in particular, people have spent a lot of time speculating about the differences between generations and what impact those differences have on social, economic, and religious levels. At the moment, one of the most talked-about generations—in both positive and negative ways—is the millennial generation (our generation). Millennials are defined as anyone born between the year 1980 and 1997 (give or take a year or two depending on the study). Most recently millennials made headline news as they officially surpassed the baby boomers as the largest (by population) living generation in the United States!

You may be asking yourself, “What does this information have to do with the workplace or with ‘workplace connections’?” Well, at some point in your life you will find yourself sitting across the interview table from a millennial. You might be the one hiring or you might be the one hoping to get a job. In either of those situations, it would be helpful to know a little bit about the generation you will be working with in order to create a more positive work environment.

The thought of working with millennials might actually be something that worries you. After all, we’ve all heard the stereotypes about them: they’ve been called the “me, me, me” generation, lazy, entitled, self-obsessed, and even narcissistic. Who would want to work with someone like that? However, they also have been given some positive stereotypes. People have called them open-minded, generous, self-expressive, upbeat, definitely tech-savvy, and passionate about social causes. We promise…they aren’t all as scary as you might think!

So let’s get real. Have you ever wondered if there is any truth behind the stereotypes about millennials? Have these stereotypes positively or negatively affected your desire to ever work with this generation? Do you think these stereotypes affect the millennials’ abilities to work with other generations and vice versa? Have you ever wondered what stereotypes about older generations might be affecting the millennials’ desire to work with them? And at the end of it all, what kind of example are we setting for future generations by letting different stereotypes affect how we all work together?

Regardless of whether or not any of the stereotypes are true, the fact that they exist has already affected the ability of different generations to work together. Each generation already has a pre-conceived idea about the other. In some instances that has helped workplace connections, and in others it has hurt them. Regardless of your generation, we can all benefit from the perspective of different generations in the workplace. Better perspective allows us to more effectively connect with and support one another, creating a healthier work environment. How do we gain this perspective? By talking together.

Rachel Morton is a graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin’s Master of Church Music program, serves as Assistant Worship Director at St. John’s Lutheran Church in West Bend, Wisconsin. She directs all traditional worship services and musical groups, serves as primary organist, collaborates in the writing of school chapel services, and oversees the Women’s Retreat Committee.

Rebekah Karolus is a graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin with a degree in both Theology and Lay Ministry. She currently serves as the Director of the Sr. High Youth Ministry, College Ministry, Young-Adult Ministry, and Women’s Ministry at St. John’s Lutheran Church in West Bend, Wisconsin. 

Come to their presentation, “Workplace Connections: The Challenges and Blessings of Being a Millennial and Working with One” at the Gifted to Influence Conference in Milwaukee, WI September 29 – October 1. There you will gain valuable perspective on generational differences as well as some practical tools that you can use right now within your various vocations to help strengthen your workplace connections.

Conflict – Something Happened, Now What?

by George McAllen

Conflict is a topic that scares many people and as a result of this fear they do their best to avoid it.  Unfortunately, because many avoid conflict, they aren’t very good at it and then spend a significant amount of time thinking about the conflict after it happens.

In my career, I work for Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins in our International Division. This means I spend my time providing business owners and company employees with the tools necessary to help them improve their business to sell coffee, donuts and ice cream.  This does not seem like a role where there would be much conflict.  After all, Baskin Robbin’s motto is…We Make People Happy!

Early in my career and volunteer experiences I found myself in difficult conversations when discussing differing points of view.  Sometimes I created the issue and other times I found myself at the receiving end of this conversation.  The conversations were stressful and I dreaded talking to some people because I just knew that it wasn’t going to go well.

A number of years ago, I attended a training session based on the book Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.  During this session, we discussed the topic of confrontation and moving from being in an adversarial position against the person you are communicating with, to working with the person to improve the outcome.  The changing of the mental image does not come without practice and I have made many mistakes as I have worked to become more comfortable with this style of communication.

As I moved into my current role, I was replaced by “Tom” whom everyone described as nice.  Truly a high compliment!  After a couple of months on the job, I got a chance to have a cup of coffee with Tom and asked him how things were going.  Tom said he was having difficulty with many of the customers he was working with which was making his new assignment more difficult than he imagined it would be.  As we evaluated why Tom was having the challenges he was having, we discovered that he was avoiding having real conversations with his customers and his team.

Tom was a nice guy and everyone, including himself, described him as a nice guy. When I asked him if my former customers described me in the same way, he laughed and said, “no”.   As I showed my feigned disappointment, I stated “I was hurt that I wasn’t thought of in the same way as I feel that I am the nicest guy I know.”  The problem was that Tom was having nice conversations with people but not having the conversations that could improve the person or the situation he was working with. Eventually, the nice conversations stopped and conflict occurred as the relationships became strained.

I have discovered a way to reduce aversion to situations with conflict. Instead of thinking about the anticipated conflict, concentrate on how you are going to help the other person improve through honest dialogue.  Sometimes the conversations can become tense and may not even turn out how you intend, however, if you keep focused on improving the other person, you build the confidence needed to have the conversation that is required.

George McAllan is the International Vice President at Dunkin’ Brands and has a BBA and MBA from Northwood University and a background in business management and marketing. At the Pressure Points Conference on September 29, George will explore the topic of conflict in his presentation, “Conflict – Something Happened, Now What?.” If you are planning to attend this session, take some time to think about your everyday interactions to determine how you can improve your conversations and your relationships.   If you have the time, do not hesitate to read Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott. 

 

Business as a Calling

By Gloria Nelund

If you’ve ever had feelings of insecurity or doubt, times of wondering what your life is about, or questions about what to do next, please know that you are not alone. Life can be challenging, and it is only with a solid foundation in the Word of God that we can find all of the answers we need, and the confidence to take those bold steps forward.

Although a career in finance was far from anything I had ever imagined as a young girl growing up in Ohio, I found myself having a very successful Wall Street career in the investment management industry. Looking back, I can honestly say that the solid foundation I had from my family and my faith gave me the guidance I would need to navigate a career in some of the largest institutions in the world, and, as a woman, to be a leader in the very male-dominated investment management industry.

Early in my career, I adopted three principles: I would work really hard; I would solve problems; and I would help people. Working really hard meant that when I finished an assignment I would look for another one. I was always asking for more to do. (It wasn’t until much later in my career that I realized not everyone does that.) In solving problems, I found that one of my greatest strengths is making processes efficient—finding a better way to do things (or finding a way to do them at all). I also discovered that I found true joy in helping other people be more successful; as a leader that turned out to be a tremendous quality.

Those principles served me well. In 1994, I was promoted to run a $35 billion global asset management firm, and by the time I was 40 (in 2001), I was recruited to be the CEO of a $55 billion private wealth management organization.  I had a career I loved and a wonderful family. That being said, while I lived by a personal commitment to honor God in all I do, I always felt guilty about having a career in business—especially one which I enjoyed and that brought me significant personal rewards. So, in 2005, after a momentous career accomplishment, I retired to finally be able to “serve God.”

After what I call my three-year “wilderness” journey, where I was desperately seeking my purpose, God demonstrated that business was my calling. My job had been my very own mission field. That “freed” me to begin exploring ways to get back in to finance, but, this time, in a way that would also make a positive difference in the world. So, at the end of 2008, I failed retirement. I started an impact investing firm that would create funds that would both deliver market-rate returns, and have positive impact in the world. The years that followed were challenging, although probably not unusual for an entrepreneur, but I had the benefit of knowing, without any doubt, that if I allowed God to lead, He would use my company for His purposes. My job is to stay close enough to Him that I hear and follow His lead. I’m happy to say that here, in 2017, my firm has been an 8-year overnight success, having invested more than $700 million to impact investments that deliver market-rate returns and proof of positive impact in communities around the world.

Gloria Nelund spent 30 years on Wall Street as one of the most successful and visible executives in the international investment management industry. After retiring from Deutsche Bank as CEO of their $50 billion North America Private Wealth Management division, she co-founded TriLinc Global; an investment firm dedicated to launching and managing innovative impact investment funds that will exponentially increase private capital participation to help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Gloria will be presenting at the Pressure Points conference on “Letting God Lead.” She is also the Plenary Speaker for the Gifted to Influence Conference. Both are happening September 29 – October 1 in Milwaukee, WI.

Christian Women in Leadership: Sarah Guldalian

Sarah Guldalian is a champion of integrity and interpersonal relationships in her journey as a Christian leader. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with founder and CEO of Rhino Hyde Productions. She holds a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Mass Communications—Political Science from Drake University and participated in an Advanced Social Media program with Columbia University – New York. Sarah is also a speaker at the upcoming WLI national Conference where she will lead a workshop on Confidence to Share Christ in the Workplace.

We asked her a few questions about her job and her views on Christian leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job? 

My favorite part of my job is working with people to find solutions for their problems and/or obstacles then, by the grace of God, helping them overcome these to see meaningful results for their ministries and companies because this equates to positively impacting their employees and constituents. I also love my team and seeing them exercising the beautiful gifts God has uniquely given them.

How would you define Christian leadership?

I believe that kindness goes an incredibly long way. When there is kindness, I believe true joy and success can flow from that. Yet, even in kindness, there needs to be an ability to speak the truth in love – not letting things go too far or get out of hand for happiness’ sake. Happiness is incredibly awesome but it is not the same as kindness.

If you keep the end in mind – to please God and to see people ultimately succeed – you will realize that kindness is both a joy that you bring to work but also sometimes a loving firmness that leads to someone’s (and the team’s) success in the end.

The above is an overarching viewpoint of mine as it pertains to Christian leadership because it incorporates integrity, truth, passion and love.

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

I try to operate by focusing in on the fruits of the Spirit as well as our company’s Core Values, which are also rooted in the Word.
Fruits of the Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
Our Core Values: Integrity, Humility, Love, Fun, Courage and Passion.

Can you remember a specific experience where you relied on your Christian faith or values to lead you through a tough decision or important task?

Absolutely! We had 60 commercials associated with a huge media buy to produce in a very short window of time – only two weeks. Meanwhile, we had a family crisis which was devastating and, in a business founded by a family, we cried out to God and rallied the troops to help each other in every way. God came through in the family crisis and the business transaction in miraculous ways! It was so clear that only HE could have accomplished it all – and He did – so He gets ALL the glory!

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

I love people so deeply. Meanwhile we are in an industry that is very fast-paced, high-demand, and constant; and starting a business can be very difficult too. This can really lead people to become tired and anxious along the way as the demands are high even as the excitement is high; and exhaustion heightens emotions. When you work with friends and family, this can be difficult because you can become afraid that crucial relationships will become marred.

I have often looked to the Lord and said, “God, I know you have a plan. You had a plan in us starting this. How do we do this well and keep relationships intact for the future?”

You don’t get to see into everyone’s minds or hearts – only God does. So, I am always looking to Him to help and to lead and to heal and to guide. Leaders, after all, are only human so we must rely on the Lord daily for success, not only in business, but more importantly in relationships.

How does working in a religious or secular setting change the way you lead as a Christian?

Honestly, it shouldn’t change how you lead as a Christian. Whether you are in a secular or a Christian setting, you will need to guard your heart and be sure that you look to Lord for your affirmation and for your answers. Obviously, though, working in a secular setting can pose different challenges.

For us, we work in a Christian-owned business but we are operating in the secular business world when we go out where, admittedly, people can be more cutting and painfully direct. So, it is so important that you go to the Lord with your wounds so that you do not get jaded; but you also need to stand up for yourself in an honest and respectful way so you respect yourself and show others where your boundaries are.

And, on the flipside, inside of a Christian organization, sometimes you must make the conversations more open and honest – versus concealing issues – for the health and success of the organization long-term.

So, there are different circumstances in either setting; but, ultimately, circumstances should not dictate your leadership style. When they do, I realize I get off path. It’s so crucial that I just keep my eyes focused on the Lord in either and work to operate according to His Word.

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

I have been blessed to have had two awesome bosses who love the Lord and love people deeply: Dave Dawson, during my time at Lutheran Hour Ministries; and my boss, Terry Knoploh, the CEO of our corporation. They both are wise in business even as they love their people, yet they stand their ground in a respectful way. This shows me that being a people-pleaser can be dangerous ground. It’s important to love people but you need to serve God and think of the greater good of the organization.

On a personal level, my grandpa, Jim Jordan, who helped raise us, was perhaps the biggest role model in my life. Everyone looked up to him as, in the world’s standards, he had the education and experience that would cause them to do so; but more important was that he just served people consistently and treated everyone equally. He was not too important to change his neighbor’s lightbulb or take their trash out, or drive us back and forth to private school. What really stood out to me also was that he didn’t see race or economic status. He treated everyone with the same love and respect.

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” This reminds me to be aware – not sticking my head in the sand – but to remain innocent and honest even yet.
What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace? 

I first worked in secular media where, frankly, I was appalled by some of the underground practices and how people were treated unethically just so goals were hit. It was when I went to Lutheran Hour Ministries where I really saw people love one another, which brought a healing and joy to me; but then this was coupled with the incredible opportunity to work for a very experienced businessman who also loved people, Dave Dawson. By working for Dave for almost eight years, I learned how to couple loving people with shrewd and honest business practices. That was an incredible opportunity and education. It was also a lot of fun too.

What challenges do you face as a Christian leader in your workplace?

It can be hard to balance loving people so deeply and of course wanting that from them in return with towing the line, meaning holding people accountable – both clients and employees – so that your teams hit your goals and your business turns a profit.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Remember your identity. We live in a day and age where it can easily feel like you are as valuable as your last deal or last project. It can feel like we are only as valuable as what we can do for others. But I challenge other Christian women – and myself! – to remember who God has created you to be from birth and not lose yourself in trying to achieve and please others. Instead of working for approval, start by knowing that your identity is in the Lord; and, when you lean into Him, He will cause you to have favor and have others approve of you. And, when they do not approve of you, get closer to God so that you don’t change to please man, but continue to please God.


Meet Sarah and other passionate Christian leaders at the Gifted to Influence conference September 29 – October 1 in Milwaukee, WI. Click here for more information.

Christian Women in Leadership: Susan Marshall

Susan Marshall has one piece of advice for Christian leaders in a secular world: stay true to God’s Word. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with Susan Marshall, Founder of the Backbone Institute. Their tagline is “Never grow a wishbone where a backbone ought to be,” and their mission is to create a stronger, more confident future one person or team at a time.  She holds a B.S. in Management and an MBA from Stritch University. Susan is also a speaker at the upcoming WLI National Conference where she will lead a workshop on Developing Confidence in MY Ability to Influence.

We asked her a few questions about her job and her views on Christian leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job? 

Seeing people grow—their energy and excitement is contagious!

How would you define Christian leadership?

Having the courage to live as God commands in a world that shuns Him and His message. Having the strength to encourage and comfort others who struggle with worldly demands and feel woefully inadequate.

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

Patiently. Consistently. Joyfully. There is greater power in invitation and acceptance than in judgment and condemnation. We are all human. We all struggle and fail. Since we have been forgiven for EVERYTHING we have messed up, we can offer forgiveness and acceptance to those who have hurt us.  Our open arms are a radical invitation to change.

Can you remember a specific experience where you relied on your Christian faith or values to lead you through a tough decision or important task?

The past two years have been full of family challenge. Dad passed in August 2016. Mom passed this June. I was assigned Power of Attorney in the Estate Trust they created in 1997. My decisions for their treatment and living arrangements were soundly criticized and challenged by siblings, who had little involvement and who have abandoned “religion.” God’s promise to be with me always was enormously comforting. The seven months we had with Mom here provided time to convince her that God wasn’t waiting for her to do “one more good thing” that would assure her safe arrival in heaven. We were blessed.

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

The past two years! My professional work was almost entirely set aside to care for Mom and Dad. As a single, independent professional, I had no idea how I was going to keep up with mortgage and monthlies. God provided and has now opened new doors for work.

How does working in a secular setting change the way you lead as a Christian?

Being a Christian leader in a secular setting demands quiet and consistent courage. Reading God’s word, reflecting on secular values and why they do not matter to me, and letting go the things of this world are all daily disciplines. It is difficult to stay true to God’s plan without coming across as holier-than-thou or painfully naive. Resisting the judgment/assessment of others is a constant challenge.

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

Paul, David, and Abraham. There are few today, which points to an enormous opportunity for us!

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

Jeremiah 29:11. I can come up with plans and strategies, but I’ve learned to relinquish them to God’s will. I can become upset with the world’s judgment of my work and the work of other Christian women, but God’s thoughts are not our thoughts; His ways are not our ways. He HAS plans for each of us. Our job is to trust Him.

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace? 

Conflict. Struggle. Failure. I have had to fall hard in order to appreciate God’s power. Sad, but true!

What challenges do you face as a Christian leader in your workplace?

Scorn and ridicule by the intellectual elite. They tell me believing in God is superstition; trusting His will is irresponsible and lazy.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Be strong. Stay true to God’s Word. Find people to support you. Ignore social pressure. LEAD.  he world needs you more than ever!

Living a Life of Radical Influence

by Gretchen Jameson

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”  ~ Modern Parable

Well that certainly sets up a particular worldview, doesn’t it? As parables go, this pithy, pointed phrase coined sometime around 2000 (or so a quick Wikipedia search says) provokes a certain sense of ferocious urgency. After all, who wants to be eaten? Applied to women in leadership, it urges us (and in many instances, rightly so) to claim our seat at the table, lean in, and get to work.

That’s not such a bad goal.

But, rather than approach leading from a sort of “Hunger Games,” eat-or-be-eaten philosophy, what if we took a more expansive view of how to gain and how to exert influence?

This September, women from across the work-life spectrum convene in Milwaukee for the 2017 WLI national conference, “Gifted to Influence.” It’s an attractive theme.  As a woman executive, I have certainly come to enjoy opportunities to influence on a wide range of levels. I am grateful for the work and long to see men and women of faith exert influence throughout the workforce.

But:

Influence for the Christ-called leader
is never the goal.

For Christ-called leaders, work in our homes, in our neighborhoods and communities, and most assuredly in our places of enterprise must draw deeply from our fidelity to service, above all else. This is a particularly difficult perspective to achieve. Our nature too often prefers the allure of the ‘dark side’ of influence: manipulation, compulsion, control, prestige, reputation.

Influence that results as stewardship of God’s grace, that results from abiding in relationship with our Father, yields significance, character, and unlimited opportunities to guide and shape and sway. In short, it yields fruit. Fruit we might accurately define as Christian leadership.

Influence, for the Christ-called leader, is an outgrowth of deep abiding. Achieving it calls us to know fully the Giver of our leadership gifts; to study carefully to unique gifts each one of us have uniquely been given; and submission to our Heavenly Father to apply the gifts He gives as they are intended to be used.

And then, only then, will we experience radical influence; influence that stems “from the roots,” from the very core of our connection to our God, who has taken hold of our very lives for His good use.

Gretchen Jameson currently serves as Sr. Vice President for Strategy and University Affairs at Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor, Mich. Gretchen, her husband, Leon and their two young daughters reside in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is the Bible study leader at the Gifted to Influence Conference in Milwaukee September 29 – October 1, 2017.

Christian Women in Leadership: Pat Maier

Pat Maier’s leadership style is characterized by humility and servanthood—with a dose of fun! Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

Patricia Maier has worked as a leader in Lutheran education, as a pastor’s wife, and as a retreat leader. Her husband is the current president of the Michigan District, LCMS, so one of her current leadership roles is as encourager to other pastors’ wives. She facilitates women’s retreat weekends at Camp Arcadia in Arcadia, Michigan and acts as a Visual Faith Coach, Speaker, and Manager of online communication sites. Pat has a BA in Education from Concordia University Ann Arbor and Chicago. She has been a presenter at a regional gathering for WLI at CUAA in 2015 and helped organize the WLI Leaning and Leading conference at CUAA in 2016. She will be presenting a workshop on Visual Faith at the Gifted to Influence Conference September 30.

We asked Pat a few questions about her roles and her views on Christian Leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job?

I enjoy meeting people, listening to their faith stories, and encouraging them with God’s Word and promises.

How would you define Christian leadership? 

A Christian leader needs to be connected in God’s Word, available and willing to listen and encourage, and be honest in sharing both faith and faults in their own life.

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

Conversation, example, support, and teaching – in a humble, no fuss, down-to-earth, I’m-a-regular-person-just-like-you sort of manner.

Can you remember a specific experience where you relied on your Christian faith or values to lead you through a tough decision or important task?

There was a ten-year period when my family was impacted with cancer, involving my father, husband, and son. It is only by God’s grace that I could walk that path, have those conversations, deal with my emotions and those of my family, and come through not too worse for wear and with a stronger faith than before. My husband’s election as a district president, leaving our church home, supporting him in a stressful job, and finding new purpose for my life continues to be a journey, and I continue to seek God’s guidance and wisdom through prayer and time in His Word.

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

That would have to be when my husband’s job changed and I was no longer “the pastor’s wife” or “the 3rd grade teacher” at my own church and school, roles that I knew and loved. Not only did I feel uncertain about the qualifications for my new leadership role, but also was unsure as to what areas God might want me to lead.

How does working in a religious or secular setting change the way you lead as a Christian?

I am still who I am – the only difference is that in a secular setting I am mindful to choose my words to be understandable and clear so that I don’t make anyone feel left out; I strive to be humble, approachable, and give the best witness that I can through conversation and relationships.

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

I admire my husband and many of the humble, mission-focused, joy-filled pastors that I’ve met;  dedicated lay leaders who serve “behind-the-scenes” with no thought for recognition; and the many treasured girlfriends that inspire me with their ability to encourage and communicate God’s Word in an excellent and fun way.

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

“He has told you, O man [or woman], what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”   (Micah 6:8)

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace?

Certainly, my work as a Lutheran educator, pastor’s wife, and church ministry volunteer all prepared me to be a Christian leader in my workplace today, which is wherever each day takes me.

What challenges do you face as a Christian leader in your workplace? 

My biggest challenge is feeling confident in where God is leading me – what invitations or opportunities need my “yes” and what need my “no.”

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership? 

Be humble, be real, be fun – and be completely devoted to Jesus and those He loves (the world!)

Christian Women in Leadership: Linda Arnold

How do you incorporate Christian values in a secular setting?

Linda Arnold, current chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute, answers that question for us. Linda is on the nursing faculty at Lewis University in Romeoville, IL. She has Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in nursing, plus Lay Ministry Training from Concordia University Wisconsin. She has served on the WLI board since 2013.

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

My students and colleagues are aware of my Christian values. Bringing my distinctively Christian world view into conversations and letting them know that I pray for them is powerful. When I make time to acknowledge them and listen without judgement, my goal is that they would see Jesus in me.

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

God speaks straight to my heart in Proverbs 4:10 where he directs me to “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

Remembering who God is helps me to rest in Him when evil threatens to prevail. Taking time to be quiet before God does not typically come naturally to leaders. This is a critical discipline for a successful Christian woman in leadership.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

God provides equipping for leadership in some very unusual forms. Do not discount any of your life experiences. Embrace them and look for the lesson.

Christian Women in Leadership: Deb Burma

How do we as Christian women use our God-given gifts in leadership roles?

Deb Burma, best known as a Christian speaker and author, gives us some helpful information that answers that question. Deb has a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics and Finance from the University of Texas. She has written women’s Bible studies, Christian-living books, retreat kits, and devotionals for CPH. She travels extensively as a leader and guest speaker for women’s retreats, conferences, and other Christian women’s events.

Deb served as a Women’s Leadership Institute board member from 2010 to 2012 and is currently a WLI Ambassador. She has been a speaker at past WLI conferences and will be a featured speaker at the Gifted to Influence conference this fall.

We asked Deb a few questions about her job and her views on Christian leadership.

What’s the favorite part of your job? 

My passion is to share the saving love of Christ, lead women in God’s Word, and encourage them in their walk with the Lord as I speak and as I write; as I engage with groups across the country and as I communicate personally with women at home and during my travels. I love listening to and learning about their concerns and questions, their interests, and their life experiences, all of which have impacted my prayer life, my speaking, and my writing. I get to know so many “sisters” as I travel, and I’m overjoyed when we stay in touch and even have opportunity to reconnect, face-to-face!

I’m humbled and awed by the Holy Spirit’s work; sometimes I receive an inspired response from a retreat participant or read an excerpt of my writing, and I find myself thinking, “I don’t even remember saying/writing that!” I’m moved to praise Him for using me, for giving me inspiration, for breathing life into my humble words and work. To Him be all the glory!

Looking back, is there a time on your leadership journey where you perhaps felt uncertain about the future, but God had a bigger plan?

At the church of my husband’s first pastoral call, I held leadership positions in Women’s, Children’s, and Family Ministries. I was passionate about the roles I had, and enjoyed healthy team leadership with others. Meanwhile, God opened doors that would allow me to begin writing for publication and traveling to speak. I was very uncertain I should walk through those doors, not knowing if I could manage both new and old leadership commitments but feeling called toward both. Only months later, my husband received and accepted a call to a different church. God’s “bigger plan” unfolded for me with more certainty, clearing my full plate to allow time, energy, and commitment for the writing and speaking ministry to which He was calling me. I stand in awe, as always, of His plans for our future – for our journey.

Is there a passage in scripture that resonates with you as a Christian woman in leadership? 

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”  Psalm 19:14

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace? 

When I was a young woman, inexperienced in the church/workplace and just beginning to learn more about my gifts and passions, I was given trust and respect (and grace!) by other more-experienced and much-wiser people in my church and in my circles of influence. These impactful leaders walked beside me, modeling healthy team leadership and encouraging me to “go for it” when I wanted to try something different, start a new ministry, or grow an existing one. Additional training through workshops, books, and leadership models were all beneficial, too, but the hands-on, grace-filled leadership of others in my midst did the most to prepare me and mold me into the Christian leader I am today. May I never stop learning from others (and thank you, Lord, for these godly leaders)!

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Continually explore and examine your gifts, your leadership strengths (Take the Gallup StrengthsFinder test!), and your areas of passion and interest. Lead from your strengths, remembering that God is the ultimate Source of those strengths! Recognize others’ unique places of leadership alongside your own, seeking to complement their gifts with yours, always looking to the bigger picture and seeking God’s will, even when doing so may place you in a humbling position. Remember that no matter your vocation, location, or calling, you represent Christ, whose grace (1) covers you when you stumble in your attempts, and (2) enables others to see His work in AND through you.

Want more from Deb? Read her other articles: Learn from the Experts: Leading a Bible Study” (Part I and Part II).

Conquering Nervousness to Unleash your Full Speaking Power

by Sarah Holtan, Ph.D.

Do you like to talk? If so, then you possess the potential to become a dynamic public speaker. It’s true! Yet, you might find that your nerves steal your power.

When we feel threatened, our bodies typically react in one of three ways: flight, freeze, or fight. Many of us experience the flight and/or freeze modes when asked to present publicly. We may find excuses not to present (flight). Or, we may become extremely nervous about the presentation and our carefully-prepared words seem to fall right out of our heads (freeze).

Symptoms of Nervousness

Perhaps you’ve experienced some of the following common physiological symptoms of nervousness: dry mouth, shaky knees, trembling voice, red skin blotches, or excessive sweat. The good news is that most people do not detect your nervousness. The other piece of good news: the worst of the symptoms typically subside after thirty seconds of speaking.

You probably know exactly how your body responds when you speak publicly so take measures to counteract the specific symptoms. For example, if you suffer a dry mouth, suck a mint beforehand as well as bring water. If you get shaky knees, wear pants. If you get a blotchy neck and chest, wear high-neck clothes or a scarf. If you sweat too much, wear black, navy, or white colors. Breathing techniques to slow your heart rate are also recommended.

Strategies to Conquer Your Nerves

Being prepared for the presentation and passionate about the topic are two easy ways to help offset the nerves. Pick a topic that you get naturally jazzed up about. If you’re assigned a topic for which you have little knowledge or enthusiasm, ask the coordinator to adjust the topic. If you’re stuck with it, request to co-present. That will take the pressure off you having to become an expert on the topic.

If you are a novice speaker, you will want to try a progression approach to build skills and confidence. First, try some low-stakes public speaking, such as volunteering to read material during a Bible study, church service, or meeting. Next, find opportunities where there is a moderate amount of psychological risk. Examples include facilitating a meeting, co-presenting, praying aloud at a group event, speaking to a group of much-younger people, or speaking to a very small, informal group. Young people and small groups don’t seem to “threaten” us as much. Now you’re ready for the formal, structured public speaking events. Until you are a more advanced speaker, consider reducing the amount of self-disclosure offered in a speech. Sharing private information (e.g., history of abuse or trauma) can make us feel more vulnerable, which results in higher anxiety levels.

Specific Techniques

Assuming you’ve conquered your nerves enough to focus on your delivery, let’s turn to the most common pieces of advice I offer to beginner speakers.

Verbal Techniques:

  • Let your natural enthusiasm for the topic carry your pitch, tone, and inflection.
  • Speak to the back of the room or the person farthest away to project voice.
  • Breathe normally to regulate your pace; what seems like a long moment to catch your breath is not really very long to an audience member.
  • Minimize “um’s” and other fillers by using pauses judiciously. If you use fillers in everyday conversation, you will use them more in speeches.
  • No reading and no memorization. Use your notes to jog your memory only.

Nonverbal Techniques:

  • Maintain eye contact with each person for 2-3 seconds.
  • Use your hands for natural gestures or rest lightly on the table/podium.
  • Ground the four corners of your feet firmly and hip width apart. Stand or sit up straight to project confidence.
  • Use movement with purpose and to burn excessive energy. Avoid swaying, though.
  • Use a PowerPoint or another visual aid to draw staring eyes away from you. (Warning: Technology will fail you when you need it most, such as on Presentation Day, so be sure to have an old-school back-up plan ready.)
  • Match your wardrobe to the formality of the event and the seriousness of your topic.

Even after you’ve had experience speaking, and mastered the basic verbal and nonverbal delivery techniques, it is natural to feel nervous. You can harness that nervous energy by embracing it. To an audience member, nervous energy just looks like energy.

Think of speech as a gift from God. We have a responsibility to use it for the service of our neighbors.

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:1-5  NIV)

We may stumble over our words, but the power of God never stumbles.


Come to the WLI National Conference in Milwaukee on September 29 – October 1 to hear Sarah’s presentation—Speaking 101: Delivery that Delivers


Four Ways to Beat Burnout

by Gretchen Huesmann

Tired. Weary. Exhausted.  Sometimes we’re just having a busy day. At other times, we experience seasons of hard work and long hours. Unfortunately, not all labor produces obvious fruit and we can feel like we’re spinning our wheels, a common feeling in ministry. Obviously, if our path is leading to burnout, something has to give.  It’s time to take a step, even if we’re dead on our feet.

1.  Step Back

Sometimes we just need to take a STEP BACK –  a break, a hiatus, or a vacation. How many people really take a day off or a true Sabbath rest? I know I’m guilty of dragging work home with me on a regular basis. Jesus Himself set a better example when He said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place to get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

Or perhaps a longer respite is required, such as a sabbatical. This is trickier, but may be necessary for clarity, health, and rejuvenation.  My husband and I have friends who recently embarked on a 6-month sabbatical. This step was not an easy one for them or their workplaces. However, the alternative, to continue the downward spiral toward burnout, was not a welcome option.

2.  Step Aside

At other times, the Lord may be calling us to STEP ASIDE. Could it be that God has something else in mind for us or less in mind for us?  Maybe it’s time for someone else to run the Sunday School or plan VBS. I know a woman who has led the same Bible study group for 30 years! She’s very proud of that. Yet I can’t help but wonder how many potential leaders have missed out from her unwillingness to step aside.

3.  Step Away

Perhaps a bigger step is needed, a STEP AWAY. Any kind of change is daunting, especially a career change. It requires prayerful consideration, conversations with family, and searching God’s Word for direction. It takes courage and clarity and a whole lot of trust. Recently, a friend left his job to start his own construction business, a bold move to be sure, but a God-directed and God-inspired one. He has a new bounce in his step.

4.  Step Up

One last option is to STEP UP.  Is God calling you to press on? To lean into the work, not with your own strength, but with His power?

Paul describes this in Philippians 3:13-14, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ.”  And in Colossians 1:29, “To this end I labor, struggling with all His energy, which so powerfully works in me.”

Noah pressed on to build the ark, despite the dry weather. Moses pressed on with the Egyptians behind and the Red Sea ahead. Jesus stepped up when He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

What step do you need to take? Proverbs 4:26a says, “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet.” If exhaustion is leading you on a path toward burnout, carefully, prayerfully consider your next step. Know that our God will lead you.

Gretchen Huesmann loves to connect women with God’s Word through Bible studies, retreats, and blogging.  Since little people are her other joy, she also teaches 4K. Gretchen lives in Jackson, Wisconsin. You can find her blog at www.gretchenhuesmann.com.


For more great articles like the one you just read, explore the EQUIP page of our website. Get inspired to lead by reading through the ENCOURAGE page, then visit one of our campus EVENTS near you. Stay connected by following us on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and TWITTER.

Christian Women in Leadership: Sarah Holtan

The secrets to Sarah Holtan’s leadership success: Integrity, citizenship and the Dream Team. Read on…

What does it look like to be a woman in a leadership role? How does Christian faith impact leadership? And what happens when you put the two together?

To find out, we caught up with Sarah Holtan who is the Chair of the Department of Communication at Concordia University of Wisconsin. Sarah has been at CUW since 2001 and has held numerous roles there. She holds a B.A. in Mass Communication and Political Science from Augsburg College, and M.S. in Education for CUW, and a Ph.D. in Journalism Education from Marquette University. Sarah is also a speaker at the upcoming WLI National Conference where she will lead a workshop on Speaking 101: Delivery That Delivers.

We asked Sarah a few questions about her job and her views on Christian leadership:

What’s the favorite part of your job? 

I love developing curriculum, energizing class discussions, mentoring, career counseling, and inventing fun “side” projects completely outside my job description.

How do you bring your Christian values into your work?

Integrity: Via role modeling; and holding myself, peers, direct reports, and students accountable to expected standards.

Citizenship: Integrating current events into course curricula.

Service: Offering short-term service learning projects in a few courses; serving on many committees; and nearly always saying yes to special requests, tasks, and duties.

Work Ethic: A disposition of gratitude toward my professional vocation; being willing to roll up my sleeves and do the work.

Can you remember a specific experience where you relied on your Christian faith or values to lead you through a tough decision or important task?

I was the Dean of Students for several years at CUW and the Chief Conduct Officer. I had to make many tough decisions. One of the toughest types of decisions was whether a student had to be removed from a resident hall or the University following a serious violation. I had to weigh the rights of the individual student and the concept of forgiveness against the rights of the community and the concept of consequences. As such, I often relied on my values of integrity and citizenship. I don’t know if I got all the tough decisions right but I’m hopeful that God was able to use any mistakes for something good.

How does working in a religious or secular setting change the way you lead as a Christian?

I’ve worked in both settings and they do seem different. Perhaps I am more thoughtful about how my decisions affect others now that I work in a religious context. My success seems secondary to others now. However, age and maturity might be the key contributors to becoming more other-centered. It’s important that Concordia prepares students to be Christian leaders wherever they work, regardless of the setting.

Who are your biggest role models as a leader?

I am blessed to have a peer group that has supported and helped me grow professionally. We call ourselves the “Dream Team,” although no one else has adopted that moniker! Our similarities drew us together and aided in our bonding. Our differences challenge us and spur growth.

What most prepared you to be a Christian leader in the workplace? 

Ironically, it was the creation of an in-house, faith-based leadership program for faculty and staff at Concordia. A colleague, Prof. Tracy Tuffey (Psychology Department) and I developed the program from scratch. We created a proposal, pitched it to the higher ups, secured funding, generated buy-in from participants and administrators, organized the logistics, facilitated the sessions, assessed the program, and turned it into a research project. Prof. Tuffey and I simply wanted to fulfill a perceived need on our campus. No one asked us to do this nor compensated us. It’s actually been an enormous energizer for me at work. It’s also taught me a lot about having an original vision and seeing it through, despite the obstacles. I believe vision and perseverance are two hallmarks of leadership.

What challenges do you face as a Christian leader in your workplace?

I’ll answer the same way I’ve heard others answer: the scrutiny of being a Christian. It seems to be held against us at times. It’s quite impossible to be perfect and people watch us very carefully! I have found that when I try to defend my Christian perspective (e.g., consequences along with forgiveness), I just end up sounding defensive. That is something I am working on.

What is the most important piece of advice you would want to pass along to other Christian women in leadership?

Fight the Good Fights. Ask yourself a few questions to discern the difference between Good and Bad Fights. Does justice need to be served? Does a person or a cause need advocacy? Is this project/task/duty worthwhile personally or professionally, even if there is no recognition or compensation? Would you still take this project/task/duty on, even if creates a headache or full-blown backlash? Could you defend yourself with evidence? If you took your ego out of the equation, would you still engage in this conflict? If you “lose” the fight, can you turn the “loss” into a valuable lesson? I don’t mind a good loss. It can ease my conscience, serve others, and possibly even build some credibility and trust along the way. Ideally, it paves the way for change in the future. Sounds counter-intuitive, but that’s been my experience.

Attending WLI Workshops gave Katelyn Schneider Confidence to Lead Nursing Home Ministry Program

Katelyn Schneider

As I reflect on the last three years of my college experience and growing leadership skills, I feel the culmination of many small teaching moments have been molding my character little by little to form a steadfast servant for Christ. Servant leadership is a concept I’ve immensely matured in since freshman year and I can honestly say intentionally living my life for others continues to transform my heart every day. Even though I have a busy schedule, the various roles I am able to participate in rarely feel like work and it has been refreshing to watch God shine through the acts of service my peers and myself complete. I never imagined heading into my senior year I would be given such unique opportunities to serve God and live out my vocation!

Leading nursing home ministry taught me how to communicate better with others, plan events to meet multiple requests or suggestions, and exercise a new level of leadership autonomy that was unfamiliar to me.  Even on evenings when I would have rather done homework instead of going to the nursing home, God never failed to prove me wrong that it was worth my time to visit the residents. The residents’ sweet smiles, witty comments, and wisdom of enduring the highs and lows of life taught me something new each week. I frequently left feeling as if they had served me more than I had served them. The residents and the nursing staff often remarked how much they looked forward to our weekly visits and that we visibly brightened their day.

Besides what I began experiencing sophomore year with Nursing Home Ministry, I am blessed to witness the outcomes of my services in my other roles as well. I’ve seen two homes be built with Habitat for Humanity, homeless people fed on the streets of Milwaukee with Street Team, and the glow on audience members faces after performing touching music with the Wind Ensemble. Nursing school has not been an easy feat academically so when I have the chance to encourage some of the younger, struggling students through my SI position I feel honored to be the tool God chooses to work through in small non-formal conversations. Receiving appreciation e-mails from the students and seeing them develop the confidence to in turn help teach their fellow peers who need help has been an extremely rewarding part of the job.

Outside of holding direct leadership positions, I think my character has developed simply from being able to quietly watch, learn, and put into practice the enriching examples of what it is like to be a Godly, professional, and extremely compassionate woman that has been modeled by Concordia’s staff and faculty.  My list of role model women who “I want to be like someday” continues to grow. I am so thankful for the ways God has placed specific people in my life throughout college who have made this campus feel like home and keep me actively pursuing God, even when it is difficult. I owe many of my gained leadership qualities to those women.

Additionally, as God has opened my heart to servant leadership, He has reassured me that my quieter sometimes shy demeanor is not a character flaw but rather the way God designed me to uniquely serve Him alone. My yelling voice may not carry across an entire room, but my heart screams for Jesus and I try my best to convey his love to everyone who crosses my path. I have learned to value the more quiet confidence He granted me and I look forward to meeting the people God continues to write into the story of my everyday life. So, even if I am not at a specific service event, I now appreciate the service of the simple yet significant act of knowing someone’s name, giving them a little smile in the hallway, and conveying to them that they are loved by God.

Looking to the future, I intend to continue developing as a servant leader by first, being aware of what opportunities God calls me to while taking time to seek out those in need of hearing the Gospel message. I did not develop my current leadership skills overnight and know that I still have a lot of growing to do. I am far from perfect. I am attempting to be more diligent about spending time in God’s word and hope He will reveal more to me through scripture. As I begin my CMLT presidency I plan to continue participating in WLI workshops and have loved the speakers I’ve heard this year including the confident leader workshop. I have been blessed on this leadership journey so far and trust God will only continue to work things for good if I remain faithful to Him.


Learn more about WLI and all we have to offer by exploring the EQUIP page of our website. Get inspired to lead by reading through the ENCOURAGE page, then visit one of our campus EVENTS near you. Stay connected by following us on FACEBOOK,  INSTAGRAM, and  TWITTER.

An Attitude of Gratitude – In Leadership and in Life

by Deb Burma

Today is a new day, and we have all kinds of expectations for it, don’t we? We’d like to think that our tasks will be completed with ease, our relationships will thrive, our health will be optimum, and all will be well. We’d like to envision the day’s contents packaged neatly and tied with a beautiful bow. (Then reality sets in!) As the day unfolds, we may be faced with struggles at work or conflict in relationships, trouble with health, or stress from an overloaded schedule. Our day may end up looking more like a package that’s been dropped in the mud or torn open haphazardly. The contents are spilled and our neat-and-tidy expectations have given way to a mess!

As Christian women seeking to lead and serve well in our homes, our workplaces, our communities, and beyond, we’re called to live a life of gratitude in our daily walk with Christ and with one another, and as we bear witness to the One we serve. How is this even possible in the midst of certain circumstances and especially on those days we might liken to a muddy mess?

By God’s grace, we can instill habits that cultivate an attitude of gratitude—in leadership and in life – on those neat-and-tidy packaged days AND in the midst of every muddy mess:

  1. Look for the Bless(ing) in the Mess

With God’s help, we can choose to see blessings in the midst of the messes in life. He enables us to shift our gaze from difficult or frustrating situations to the One who holds us and guides us through them. Not dismissing them or making light of them, but resting in His promises and receiving His strength to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for [us]” I Thessalonians 5:18.

We cling to the Truth of God’s Word in spite of feelings, fears, and the difficulty of the moment. For example: when we feel that a situation is out of control, we hold fast to the Truth that Jesus has everything under control (Hebrews 2:8).

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” Philippians 4:8.

We can ask ourselves: “In today’s situation, what can I give thanks for? What can I think about that is true, pure, lovely…?”

  1. Make a Choice to Rejoice! 

Let’s take a deep breath, then slowly exhale. (Go ahead…) See, God just gave you and me another breath on this new day of life – a simple reason to rejoice! “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” Psalm 118:24. What will we witness today if we’re watchful? Can we recall the refreshing time spent with a friend, the delicious foods we savor, the kind gesture from a stranger? May we take a closer look at God’s creation and marvel in one detail of it? We would be wise to consider His continual provision of our needs. Above all, we can rejoice in His free gifts of forgiveness and faith: Jesus is Lord and He is risen! We celebrate life in His name!

As Christian women seeking to lead and serve well in every area of life, we’re called to live a life of gratitude. How is this even possible in the midst of certain circumstances and especially on those days we might liken to a muddy mess?

We rejoice, too, as we remember God’s promise to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Whether we stare at a pretty package or a muddy mess today, let’s consider how the Lord may be working in and through it:

  • He may lead us to look to our Savior alone for life and peace – to the One who has overcome this messed-up world. (See John 16:33)
  • He may teach us to rest in His strength and not pretend that we can go it alone in times of trouble. (See Psalm 46:1)
  • He may use this to grow and mature our faith in Him. (See James 1:2-4)
  • He may work through us to leave a powerful, lasting influence upon someone, as she witnesses our trust and gratitude, even in the midst of a mess. (See 1 Corinthians 11:1)

Actively express thanks to God through creative expression: start a gratitude journal. Look for blessings, big and little, as a daily exercise in thankfulness, then list them in your journal, adding Scripture, images, and artwork, too. Record God’s provision and all the blessings in your life that come to mind.

  1. Gaze Upward and Outward: Inspire and Influence

In a world filled with naval-gazers, we’re called to look not inward, but upward…then outward. We live in grateful response to the Giver of every good gift (James 1:17), with our gaze upon Him as we follow His lead. Then – by His grace – we get to impact the world for Christ right in the midst of our circumstances, even the muddy, messy ones. Through our influence, we can “…make the most of every opportunity.” Colossians 4:5

In all we say and do, we have the opportunity to inspire others with a message that reveals a life of gratitude in Christ: (1) For who we are, chosen and redeemed in Him. (2) For all we have, received from His hand. (3) For all we are becoming, as we continue to be molded in His image and grow in our life of leadership and service.  We inspire gratitude in others as we live it and express it freely (even in the midst of a haphazardly-opened, muddy-messy package-of-a-day).

We can ask ourselves: “How can I lead with a spirit of gratitude in this situation? What kind of influence may my growing gratitude have on the people God is placing in my life?”

As the Founder and Perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2) continues His good work in you (Philippians 1:6), ask Him to help you see the blessing in the midst of every messy circumstance. Seek His strength, that you can make a choice to rejoice. Fix your eyes on Him, making the most of the next opportunity (and the next…and the next…) to inspire and influence others through your attitude…of gratitude!


 

Deb Burma is a member of Speakers Bureau and a sought-after speaker for women’s conferences, retreats, and leadership workshops. She is the author of Christian-living books, Bible studies, and devotionals, published by CPH. Deb is grateful for Jesus’ redeeming love, for her husband and children, and for the opportunities each new day presents, guided by God’s grace!

Four Prayers that Jesus Loves to Answer “Yes!”

By Dr. Linda Borecki

When circumstances are difficult my usual prayer is for rescue out of the problem!   Whether for myself or for others, I often pray that God would lessen the burden or give help to escape the crisis. Sometimes the answer is “yes.”

But sometimes God allows the difficulty to continue.  What then do I pray?

In the book of Acts, when the disciples were under threat from the authorities, they gathered to confer.  What did their prayer sound like? What did they pray in very difficult circumstances? Luke tells us that together they prayed,

Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.  Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. (Acts 4:29-30).

Now that is a prayer that God loves to answer, “Yes!”  What are some other prayers that God loves to answer, “Yes”? Prayers and petitions that deepen our trust and relationship with God. For example:

Strength  

When praying for strength, Paul shows us that our strength lies in our weakness. Christ said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power, is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8) In response Paul stated, “For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10b) Christ enables his servants to receive His power in all circumstances.

The Lord’s Prayer also reminds me:  we are not feeble souls who whimper “Thy will be done” with a sigh of futile resignation, but as saints confident of God working out his purposes, “Thy will be done!”  I pray with greater confidence when I remember it is “our Father” we are praying to.  We are praying through Christ, who Himself experienced hardship and perils, knows our weakness, and pours strength into us.

Courage

In praying for courage, we get far more than what we ask for – we get God. We get an infusion of en-courage-ment from the Lord of the universe.  Immeasurable energy in contact with measurable need.  “On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.” (Psalm 138:3).

Hope

“I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in His word I hope” (Psalm 130:5).  Biblical hope is anchoring one’s soul in the gift of assurance that God is and that God overflows with love toward each of us. And God is “stretching out His hand” now, working out His purposes even in the midst of chaos or heartache.  We are learning to stay alert to the God who works in unexpected ways.  As P.T. Forsyth says,

In prayer we become more and more sure that He is sure, and knows all things, and hesitates or falters never, and commands all things to His end.  All along Christ is being formed within us as we pray.

Peace – shalom

The Hebrew word shalom is much richer than an absence of anxiety or conflict.  There is a sense of wellness, a mending or healing of something broken now knit together into wholeness.  When you get peace, you get healing – spiritual, emotional, physical, relational.  Prayer lifts us to be more sure of the Gift-giver than the gift, more alert to God’s grace than our need.

Strength, courage, hope, peace – prayers that Jesus loves to answer “Yes!”  Through the name of your holy servant Jesus, Amen; it will be so!


 

Dr. Linda Borecki is part-time faculty at Concordia University, Portland, and music minister at Christ the Vine Lutheran Church, Damascus, Oregon.  Among her favorite prayer mentors are Carla Waterman, Robert Warren, P.T. Forsyth, all the psalmists, and the bold, prayer-loving Martin Luther.

Leadership and Limitations

By Heather Choate Davis

As women we often fall into the trap of viewing the world from the outside in. We see jobs we’re prohibited from, positions we are never seriously considered for, and levels of authority to which we don’t seem to be allowed to rise. We see men of lesser skills or aptitude or work ethic handed opportunities it’s clear we’re far more qualified for.  We see, in other words, limitations. As a result, we feel discouraged—resentful, even—and sometimes that resentment leads us to double down in our determination to break the glass ceilings we still see at the highest levels of leadership in the world and in the church.

But what if we tried viewing the world from the inside out instead? Allowing the Holy Spirit to train us through the Word, prayer, discernment, and wise counsel to see our lives the way God has uniquely molded and made us to live them. Then the question is no longer, “can a woman break those glass ceilings” (of course she can), but rather, should you—you Rachel or Katie or Amanda or Heather—break that glass ceiling? Is this what God is calling you to do in your specific situation? Or are we merely trying to prove a point, or seek what feels very much to us like justice?

If it’s the latter we can’t help but fail, even if we manage to secure the coveted raise or promotion. “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) If it’s the former—if this is how Jesus is calling us to live out our vocations in the world—then no human obstacle (and there will be obstacles), or wiles of the enemy (and there will be plenty of those too), will be able to stop us.

St Paul tells us that we are “to lead the life that the Lord assigned, to which God has called you” (1 Cor. 7:17). Think about that. We are not just to live a life but to lead it. To stand clear-eyed at the helm following the lead of the Living God. Some years that may be in the workplace, others through raising our children or serving the church, or through some seemingly insignificant volunteer job or hobby or passion project that suddenly bursts forth into new fruit that could not come from anyone but us.

So when we think about 21st-century women in leadership, let’s look past the easy snares of gender and limitation, and set our eyes on the path of calling. When we lead the life that the Lord assigned, we only have one boss. And we can rest assured that He always has our best interest—and the world’s—at heart.

Stretched vs. Stressed: What’s the Difference and why does it Matter for Leaders?

by Sarah Holtan, Ph.D.

“How do you do it all?” I’m asked regularly by friends and colleagues. My answer: “I don’t.” I watch their eyes get round and their eyebrows shoot up. They know I’m the solo parent of two young children, a full-time employee, and hold numerous other roles. I explain that I used to try to do it all… yes, I tried to be a SuperMom. I even took multivitamins by that name! But the SuperMom Phenom was a dangerous trap for me. The pressure to maintain control over all the moving parts in my life– or the illusion of control – was utterly exhausting and stressful.

Leaders are prone to high levels of stress. The Bible refers to stress as anxiety, worry, and troubles (Matt. 6:25; Ps. 142:2-3). God wants us to come to Him in prayer with our troubles (2 Sam. 22:7). Prayer is the antidote to anxiety: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6-7). He wants us to learn to love and trust in Him fully to provide for us (Prov. 3:5-6). Furthermore, our general well-being is at stake. We serve no one well when we are highly stressed because we make poor decisions and/or withdraw from situations and people.

I was in a position of leadership at work and in a low place in my personal life when I realized I couldn’t function well anymore. I was no longer challenged in a positive way; I was just overwhelmed. My adrenaline was pumping almost constantly. After prayerful consideration, and to the shock of many, I requested a demotion at work. It was the hardest and best decision of my professional life.

How did I know I was stressed out and not just stretched? At first, I didn’t. Like most of us, I just tried to “power through” the daily grind of managing work, family, and Everything Else. I told myself it would get better after I adjusted. It didn’t. Looking back, I can see I exhibited some of the signs that are commonly associated with stress:

  • Negative emotions being close to the surface, such as irritability and frustration
  • Resentful attitude
  • Forgetfulness
  • Feelings of being overwhelmed, especially at night and upon waking
  • Sleep disturbances (too much or too little)
  • Over-reliance on over-the-counter medications for headaches and other ailments
  • Lack of self-care, such as exercise
  • Increased escapism activities, such as television

But I’m an overachiever, classic Type A, so I had trouble discerning the difference between the challenges that stretch us – those that are positive, healthy, productive, and growth opportunities – and challenges that stress us, which are those that might debilitate us.

Here are some signs of being stretched:

  • Feeling energized by the new role, task, event, life change, etc., even if scared about it
  • Brain automatically begins visualizing possibilities
  • Able to manage negative emotions reasonably
  • Sense of accomplishment surrounding it

If you are exhibiting signs of stress, what can you do about it? I’d recommend the following:

A.     Pray. Read Scripture, such as Psalm 118:5-9, John 14:27, and Matthew 6:25-34. Trust in the Lord to provide the necessities of life.

B.     Identify the top 1-3 stressor(s) in your life (macro level) or regarding one particular aspect of life (micro level).

1.     Decide if the stressor(s) can be fixed with a technical solution.  For example, I don’t mind cleaning the house. But I do mind the time that it takes to vacuum snack crumbs out of the carpets, scrape silly putty off the fireplace hearth, and pick up two dozen toy trucks and half-finished art projects. My technical solution was to add a household budget line item for a housekeeper.

2.     If a technical solution is not readily apparent, you might need to consider if you have a deeper, philosophical issue.  Maybe it is fear of changing or delegating work to someone else, and thus, losing control.

C.     Ask yourself what could or will happen if you do nothing? What are the short- and long-term consequences? What will you regret?

D.     Consider what you could do for others to help ease their troubles and anxieties (Luke 11:46). Are you creating obstacles for your co-workers or family members? Could you help them overcome their obstacles? Could you serve them in a meaningful way, and thus, experience their tranquility and joy by proxy?

I’m proud to say I’ve shifted away from the SuperMom trappings. But since I’m Type A, I’ll rebrand myself as a TopMom.

Jesus Said So – Trusting When it Doesn’t Make Sense To

By Karen Lippert

Learn how to make sense of nonsensical situations by taking Peter’s lead when he obediently trusted Jesus despite it defying human logic …

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:1-11)

Jesus knew the physics of sound traveling over the water, so He used Peter’s boat to teach the large crowd that day.  We know that Peter was about done working for the day.  He was washing his nets and probably thinking about going home to get some much needed rest.  After Jesus had finished teaching, He asked Peter to go to deeper water and get his nets dirty.  REALLY?  I think that the equivalent for us would be:  You’ve just finished cooking, eating, and cleaning up your dinner.  You have washed the pots and pans and have loaded the dishwasher.  Then Jesus says to you,  “Make me supper.”  How would you react?

Look at Peter’s answer in v.5.  First of all, Peter calls Jesus, “Master.”  He knew that Jesus was an important person; One Who taught with authority.  (By the way, have you acknowledged Jesus as “Master” of your life today?)  Then he was honest.  They had worked all night and had struck out.  NO FISH.  There isn’t anything much worse than working for hours with no tangible result!  My guess that is Peter only made money when he had fish to sell!

I absolutely LOVE the next part: “but, because YOU say so, I will let down the nets.”  Have you used that line with your kids, “Do it because I said so!”  Well, Peter was acting with childlike obedience in this situation.  HE let down the nets and the result was incredible:  so many fish that two boats began to sink!  Peter then saw Who Jesus really was and starting following Jesus as a full-time disciple. (walking away from a fortune, by the way!)

Is Jesus asking you to do something that doesn’t make sense?  This definitely didn’t make sense to Peter:  a good fisherman didn’t fish in the middle of the day, in deep water.

What is your nonsensical situation?  Do you have to trust Him with a health scare?  Do you have to trust Him in a marriage that isn’t what you dreamt of?  Do you have to trust Him in a job that is stressful and demanding?  Do you have to trust Him with finances that don’t add up?

No matter what situation you might be in, Jesus wants you to respond with trusting obedience.  Keep praying.  Keep reading His Word.  Keep coming to worship.  Keep serving.    He will prove Himself faithful!  He has a good plan for your life!


Karen Lippert is the Director of Women’s Ministry at Divine Redeemer in Hartland, WI.

God is the Writer – You Are His Book

Overcoming Writer’s Anxiety through a study of 2 Corinthians 3:3
by Elise Arndt

Verba volant, scripta manent is a Latin proverb. Literally translated, it means “spoken words fly away, written words remain”.  If that is true, what a motivation for us to write the amazing things God has done.  We are his “letters” written with the pen of His redeeming love in Christ.  We are His “letter”—pages and chapters filled with God’s love and grace.

But, how does one begin writing those marvelous acts of God? What happens when the words in your mind aren’t easily translated onto paper or a computer screen?

My desire to write began in the late 1960’s. At that time our family was living in Papua New Guinea.  As I wrote letters home, words flowed in a free and uninhibited, unprofessional fashion that expressed my heart. They were simple stories of God’s amazing love and provision.  I didn’t think of them as being profound, but friends and family members responded and wanted to hear more. The more they responded the more I wrote.  The more I wrote the more my confidence grew.

When we returned to the United States, I began sharing my stories with anyone who would listen. Eventually groups of women asked me to speak at Bible studies and conferences. Out of necessity outlines developed which later became the framework for future publications.

When asked to write my first publication, I experienced what most writers feel -inadequacy and the fear of rejection. I will never forget my husband’s words to me when the pain of not writing exceeded the pain of writing.

“Take the risk!”

“Don’t live in regret.”

“Your purpose in writing is to leave a legacy. That alone will be your success!”

 

To start writing was difficult.  Nothing I wrote seemed to fit together.  Then I found my style. Although unconventional, it worked.

Since I am not a linear thinker, concepts, and creative ideas would be placed on a page randomly. There was no concern for order, no outline, no sentence structure, punctuation or capitalization – just pure creativity.  Miraculously, a common thread began to emerge with an outline following.

Finally the first draft was written.  It was perfect!  Until I read it the next day.  Not as good as I thought.  Then began the agonizing and seemingly unending process of re-writing

I found that words effectively communicated take time to flow.  This process cannot be hurried. Re-writing causes paragraphs to transition better. Fewer words are used to express adequately the sacred thoughts of the soul.  Those re-writes clarified more effectively what my heart wanted to convey.

As you begin the adventure of writing (be it e-books, blogs, publications,  an actual book through a publishing house, or traditional journaling) keep in mind that the time you spend is never wasted. Although it is a world of emotional highs and lows where discouragement and confidence walk side by side, keep in mind your focus. You are God’s “Living Letter” – a testimony of his love and faithfulness to be shared with future generations.

Takeaways From the CUW #WLIidentity Fall 2016 Panel Discussion

On Friday, November 18th, CUW students heard from five exceptional Christian women on how they gain confidence in who God made them to be. Our panelists, Tammy Ferry, Sonja Wall Kosberg, Kim Bueltmann, Anne Spahr, and Dana Outhouse; shared personal stories about the struggles and hardships they went through in college and throughout their lives and how much easier those times were with God helping them through them. It was a time for us to join together as women in Christ and celebrate our identities; who we are, in Him. We discussed how each of us have a fixed identity in Jesus Christ, and no matter what else is going on in our lives, who we are in Him remains constant.

 

Halfway through the evening, each panelist reached out to a table of girls and posed this question, “The devil can be described as our ‘identity thief’; what things does he tempt your identity with?” Some of the responses the ladies came up with included anxiety, toxic friends, controlling relationships, and peer pressure. These topics were challenging to discuss, but each panelist gave her words of wisdom on how she personally got through these struggles. By hearing that someone else went through the same problems, it makes it easier to tackle them because one knows that it does get easier and she will survive.

 

We also learned that identities do shift and change as our life goes on. Your identity can go from a daughter and sister to mother, wife, friend, etc. God knows exactly what we can handle and gives us everything we need. By leaning on Him, Christian women come to know who we are meant to be.

Be Energized by GEMS

God + Exercise + Meals + Sleep = An energized YOU! Read on for tips from Karen Sue Hinz Murdy on how to apply this recipe to equip yourself with energy for leadership:

As I pondered the words of advice I wanted to write for my eldest son heading off to college twelve hours away from home, I considered the stresses he would encounter at college. What words would truly help him?

As I pondered the words to share with my exhausted friend who was mothering a newborn, I considered the words that would encourage her through this exhilarating, yet exhausting, time.

As I pondered the words to express to women leaders who want to build energy in order to serve in their churches and in their homes, I considered the priorities for their valuable time.

The words I’ve found for all three of these scenarios, and for many others, are real gems!

Everyday include these G.E.M.S.:

G: God time.  Make God-time first and foremost.  Read your Bible.  Be encouraged. Pray. Find strength in God’s promises:

“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

and

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)

At a very beneficial WLI conference in Milwaukee a few years ago, I heard Ida Mall speak. Although I can’t quote her exact words, the essence of them was, “If it doesn’t have to do with eternity, let it go.”  By having God-time daily, the perspective of eternity helps guide your priorities.

E: Exercise Make exercise a part of every day.  Ideally exercise 30 minutes a day, but something is always better than nothing.  At least, go for a 10 minute walk, preferably outside in the sunshine. Exercise has a plethora of benefits and will help you physically, mentally, cognitively, and spiritually! You can even combine your exercise time with your God-time by listening to your Bible on a phone app and praying while you walk.

M: Meals…good nutrition.  The food you feed your body fuels your body.  To work well, feed your body well.  Make sure to include protein and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables each day.

S: Sleep God designed our bodies to have rest time.  Without it, most people cannot function well. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours of sleep per night for adults.

God so amazingly created our awesome minds and bodies. When these GEMS are included each day, you will have more physical energy to serve in your home and at church. When we plug into the Power Source, we received grace from our loving God and find strength for our days.


Karen Sue Hinz Murdy, Speaker and Certified Exercise Physiologist, loves to encourage and equip people both in their spiritual and physical walk with the Lord. For more information, please check out karensuemurdy.blogspot.com or call 608-346-9866.

 

God Brought Cacia Speckhard to WLI through a Chance Meeting

CACIA SPECKHARD

At Concordia University Wisconsin I was a busy student juggling a double major in Nursing and Missions, involved with many student organizations and a student leader in campus ministry. I loved every crazy minute learning and being surrounded by a group of people who were excited and passionate about living out the faith. And then after four years it was time for graduation and a real job in the healthcare world. I truly enjoy my career as a nurse, but suddenly I felt lost without my routine of classes, daily chapel and ever-evolving to do list of ministry tasks. Most of all, I missed the people. 

Looking back, I can definitely see God’s hand at work, but at the time it seemed random to run into Darcy (who I knew well from CUW’s campus ministry team and who is WLI’s Director) at a craft store. We caught up, talked about the joys and weirdness of transitions and Darcy mentioned getting involved in WLI. I had attended a WLI event while in school and recently attended another a few months ago. It was like a breath of fresh air! A group of wonderful women of faith from all walks of life who are life-long learners excited about leadership. I left that afternoon workshop feeling recharged and encouraged. Currently, I am on the planning committee helping to bring WLI’s National Conference to Milwaukee in the fall of 2017 and I am so incredibly excited to see what God has in-store for that weekend! WLI has been a blessing in my life and I hope it can be a blessing in yours as well.

How to Deal with Challenging Volunteers

By Karen Kogler

Most volunteers are wonderful, self-giving people. But when one is a challenge, you not only can do something about it, you should!

“Alice is wonderful with the kids in the church Nursery, but she’s late half the time and I have to cover until she shows up. But I’m afraid if I say something she’ll quit and we’re already short-handed.”

“Elton complains no one helps him on the committee, but it’s because he has such a negative personality. We’re all just waiting and hoping he’ll retire.”

“Sherry has run the annual fund-raiser every year for 10 years now. She never considers new ideas and she controls every detail, so her only helper is her long-suffering friend Emily. We raise fewer and fewer dollars each year, and that hurts our program. But what can we do? She’s a volunteer.”

Here are three effective steps you can take to deal with challenging volunteers:

1. Prepare

First, don’t put off dealing with it. Delay only makes it harder to solve. Start by praying for wisdom and Christ-like love for the challenging volunteer. Then carefully examine your own role. Are there things you have done, or not done, that contributed to the problem?

2. “Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15)

Meet in private, at a time and place comfortable for them. Explain the specific behavior that’s a problem and explain the consequences of the behavior. Admit and ask forgiveness for any role you had in the issue. Look for common ground. Ask the volunteer to suggest a solution. Listen to their concerns. When you agree on a solution, write it down, along with a plan for following up later.

3. Follow up

Do follow up as planned. If the first solution didn’t work, is there another possible solution? If you and the volunteer honestly cannot find a solution that works, you may need to ask the person to accept another position. Throughout the process, and no matter the outcome, assure them of your concern and love for them, and demonstrate that concern in your actions.

By the way, prevention is easier than problem-solving!

• Give clear expectations, in writing, at the start
• Have an initial trial period, so both sides can see how it works
• Plan regular “how’s it going?” meetings, where all can be open and honest about concerns
• Invest in your leadership skills. WLI is a great resource for that!

In the church, there are no “wrong” people, just people in the wrong position. Every person has a place that suits their gifts. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a part of it” (1 Cor. 12:27). “From [Christ] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Eph. 4:16). It can be a challenge – but it’s also a great joy and privilege! – to help each person in Christ’s body find their place to serve!


Karen is Director of Equipping and champions the “Equipping Each to Serve” value at St. Peter Lutheran, Arlington Heights, IL. She also maintains www.TheEquipper.org and can be reached at Karen@TheEquipper.org.

Rachel Ferry Left WLI Event Feeling Equipped and Supported

RACHEL FERRY

WLI hosted “Leaning in & Leaning On: A Christian Perspective” on CUAA’s campus in October 2016. It was my honor to attend this event, surrounded by Christian women of various generations and backgrounds.

Not only were the presenters inspiring, relevant, and uplifting; the women who attended were beyond willing to share openly and encourage one another enthusiastically. The event was most certainly God-breathed, and I left feeling equipped by His Word and supported by my sisters in Christ!

Rachel Ferry works at Concordia University Ann Arbor and attended her first WLI event in September 2015.

Three Creative Ways to Outline a Life-Changing Presentation

Outline. When you hear that word, you probably groan and think of English 101 in high school. Just how were you supposed to place those capital letters and Roman numerals? Don’t worry—outlining a life-changing presentation isn’t about perfecting the mechanics of outlining. It’s about organizing your information in a way that helps audience members listen to and remember your words.

Most of us have had the experience of listening to a speaker roam through a topic without seeming to have any particular destination in mind. His words strolled through the subject without purpose. And he wandered on so many side paths that at the end of the speech you were left wondering what he was trying to say.

Well-organized speeches are:

  • Easier to understand. With a clear and logical order, listeners can follow your thoughts.
  • Easier to remember. Clear organization helps audience members identify and recall your key points.
  • More credible. Speakers who offer well-planned speeches are perceived as more authoritative on their subject.

To begin to formulate a creative outline for Bible-based presentation, look at your chosen Scripture and identify the main ideas. Divide the Scripture into sections and title each section. Make sure the title of each section relates to the key point you want to convey.

Next, play around with the titles. Use your creativity to come up with titles your audience will remember.

For instance, imagine you were going to give a presentation on Colossians 3:5-14, where the apostle Paul talks about putting off the old self and putting on the old self. Here are three creative ways you could structure the talk:

  1. Use an analogy. Help your audience envision this passage as an exercise in cleaning out their spiritual closets. Employ the terms closet organizers use:
  • Toss (vv. 5-11) Toss out anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk.
  • Keep (vv. 12-13) Keep compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
  • Donate (v. 14) Give away love.
  1. Use the same word. Start each section title with the same word. This gives a clear and memorable structure to your speech. For instance:
  • Put to death (vv. 5-11) Put to death anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk.
  • Put on the new (vv. 12-13) Put on compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
  • Put love over all (v. 14) Put on love—above all–which binds everything together.
  1. Use an acronym. Create titles that begin with a letter of a word that relates to your topic. When I speak on this passage, I use the concept of spiritual STYLE and spell out that word:
  • See the Need for Change
  • Toss Out the Old
  • Yearn for Something More
  • Learn God’s Style
  • Embrace the New

Remember, outlining your speech is not about getting every Roman numeral in the right place—it’s about helping your audience internalize your message. Use your imagination and pray that God will give you a practical and fun way to present your topic.


 

Sharla Fritz is the author of three Bible studies: Soul Spa, Divine Design, Bless These Lips, and a study for teens: Divine Makeover: God Makes You Beautiful. Check out her online course on Christian speaking at Women’s Leadership Institute Academy. Watch for more information about her speaking workshops at the WLI 2017 National Conference.

WLI Helps Tori Homann Grow In Life and Leadership Skills

TORI HOMANN

I was initially introduced to WLI in 2011 when I came up for the last day of the national conference to participate in worship via liturgical dance with my mom, sister and some other ladies from my church. I don’t remember very much from that experience, other than that I thought it was an amazing opportunity to get to share the Lord through dance – an art form that I love.

My second experience was at the national conference in 2014. The theme for the event was Christ-Connected Women with the theme verse being Hebrews 10:24 which says, “Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” A friend of mine and I were blessed to be asked to speak about how the women attending the conference could relate to and foster relationships with younger women of our generation. I was so honored that women who were so much wiser and learned than me would want to sit down and listen to what I had to say. This was a humbling experience, but more than anything it was a learning experience. I was surrounded by SO MANY amazing women leaders. This is my favorite part of WLI: it brings the best female leaders in the Lutheran Church together in one place so that all can learn and grow from their experiences there at the conference and from the experiences of other women and speakers.

My most recent experience with WLI was receiving the call to be a member of the WLI marketing committee to assist with the Twitter and Facebook accounts (the username for both accounts is @wlicuw so check out our pages for upcoming events and other wonderful, encouraging content!). I have already learned a lot, just from listening to the other women discuss how the marketing committee plays into WLI’s bigger picture of educating, encouraging, and equipping women leaders for Christ. I know that in my time on the board I will gain valuable life skills and continue to grow in leadership.

I think Paul sums it up best in his letter to Philippi. He says “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:3-6). This is what WLI has been for me. The work that this group is doing is truly Kingdom work. God is working in amazing ways through this organization: touching lives and bringing gifts to fruition that many women never even knew they possessed.

Tori Homann

Hope College 2020

Marketing Committee Board Member