Time to Stop Talking & Take Action!

Harassed & helpless! Boy, do I know that feeling! I watch the news & read the paper & begin to wonder if there IS any hope. I read the posts on Facebook from other moms, other women & I know I’m not alone. So many women seem frightened, hopeless, helpless. We all begin to wonder if there is ANYTHING we can do to make things better.

Things seem to be getting worse everyday. I get angry and resolved to take action. Unfortunately, I let other things get in my way. I knew God was calling me & instead, I let trivial matter distract me. Not anymore!

I’m not here to discuss political issues or constitutional rights. I believe this goes deeper than any of that. No, I’m want to look at this from my expert perspective. And my area of expertise is Theology. When I was a kid, people said, “Everyone always talks about the weather but no one ever does anything about it!” Well, there isn’t much we can do about the weather. And while many of us TALK about conditions in our nation, our cities, our neighborhoods, there IS something we can do about it.

In the verse above from the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus felt compassion for the people because there were lost & afraid “like sheep without a shepherd.” We act like frighten sheep. We run around in a panic. Fortunately, we HAVE a Shepherd. Jesus is watching over us, protecting us whether we realize it or not. So the first thing we can do it put our faith in Him.

The second thing we can do is find strength, hope & comfort in Scripture. When life seems overwhelming, when we are unable to find answers, I know we can ALWAYS find the answers we need in the Bible.

The third thing we can do is PRAY! There is power in prayer. I also believe there is incredible power when WOMEN pray. More important, powerful things happen when women come together to pray. Jesus told us when 2 or more are gathered in my name, I will be there. Oh, He’s always there with us as individuals but when 2 or more of us come together to pray, Jesus is right there with us, praying beside us & personally taking our concerns to His Father.

In light of these three things, I came to the realization there is even more we can do. For a very long time now, I have felt God filling me with a vision. God has been calling me to create a ministry for women. A ministry made up of small groups of women, meeting in homes across the country, sharing faith, studying Scripture, praying, strengthening & supporting one another & having fun! The problem I had was how to do this?

I have dragged my feet long enough. I can’t worry anymore about the right way to begin, the right time to start, the right pice of the puzzle to fall into my lap. I’m just going to begin.

If you look at the top of the page in the menu, you’ll see Sisters of Simple Joy. This is the name I have given to our small group women’s ministry. Beneath that, I am adding information to help you launch your own group. There is no charge for any of this. I have created a workbook for group leaders. Anyway, you can find information at the top.

For now, pray. God is calling a small group of women to be the first small group leaders in this ministry. I’m not naming any names. That’s not for me to decide. I’m not saying anyone should do anything right now. Just pray. If you are one of the women God has chosen, He’ll let you know. All I ask is that you open your heart, mind & spirit to His leading!

And should you decide to join this adventure, let me know. I want to create a network of praying faithful women that uphold & support one another, their families, their communities & our nation.

Hugs & blessings!

Jean Ann

The 6 No-no’s of Successful Delegation Part 1: Never Do It Yourself

Congratulations! You have been asked to lead your organization. Or you volunteered to chair your group’s fundraiser or special event. Whatever it might be, you find yourself in a leadership position, perhaps for the first time. You want everything to go great. After all, you ARE in charge!

True but in order to have a great year at the head of an organization or a successful event, you must rely on other people, particularly volunteers. And this is where many first time (or even long time) leaders run into trouble! Not a problem! Jean Ann is here to help you avoid a few of the pitfalls that have sabotaged many a leader! And the easiest way to do this is by showing you 6 things you should NEVER, EVER do! I’m breaking this down into 6 parts so you can comment or ask questions specific to each No No! Ready? Let’s Begin!

 

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NEVER Do It Yourself

 

This does not mean you shouldn’t do any of the work yourself. However, it has been my experience that new leaders often have problems recruiting help so they end up doing much of the work themselves. This is a very, very bad idea!

I recently attended a planning meeting for a large fundraiser being held at my church. One of the chairwomen from the women’s ministry was chairing the meeting. As the discussion went on, I realized she wasn’t chairing the meeting as the head of the women’s group. She was chairing it as the person in charge of the event. I finally asked her outright who was chairing the event. “I am,” she told me. Seems no one else would volunteer to do it.

This is a problem. The chair of an organization must be able to focus on multiple elements of the organization. If she must also chair one of the major activities of the group, it diverts her focus from the whole. The best way I can put it is this: when the first chair in the brass section of the orchestra calls in sick, the conductor never takes their place. The conductor’s job is to oversee the whole. Taking an active role in a part of that whole weakens their ability to smoothly orchestrate the group. The same is true when you are chairing an event. You must be able to focus on the whole by not getting caught up in a part.

One word of warning: One of the greatest pitfalls of doing it yourself is finding volunteers to do other tasks. Once members see you are willing to take over anything left undone, you may find yourself doing it ALL! This is a quick & painful path to failure. In order for an organization  to succeed or an event to flourish, everyone must do their part. As the leader, your part is to encourage & equip those overseeing all the other aspects of your organization or event.

I know it can be tough. When no one wants to take over a task, it’s easy to step in. STOP! Rather than taking over the task, you must learn how to recruit volunteers. And for that, you must wait for Part 2!

Mentoring New Leaders Part 5 Trust


I believe the most difficult part of this process is Trust. There simply comes a time when you must turn responsibility over to the other person & surrender control. This can be tough, especially if the project is one you started from scratch. When we birth a project & develop it, we have specific ideas how it should be done. We have to accept the fact, for our idea, our project to continue after we tue it over to someone else, it needs to evolve. Nothing survives in a stagnant environment & this is especially true of ideas. They need to develop & grow over time, having a fresh approach added to the mix in order for them to continue & survive. 

Let’s look at the example Jesus set for us. No matter what you believe happened to Jesus after He died, we can all agree, He eventually had to turn things over to His followers & leave. We have a record of the events that followed & not just from the Bible. The apostles took the things they were taught by Jesus & built on them. They organized the church. They created other roles in ministry. They began training new leaders. They wrote down an account of the things they had seen & the things they were doing. They defined the role & responsibilities of the church & the people in the church. The list goes on & on. 

The apostles took the lessons Jesus taught them, they took His message, they took the things they learned while studying under Jesus & they expanded on them. Things were changing around them & they adapted & developed with the changes without sacrificing the message or lessons Jesus had taught them. And Jesus had to trust them to continue in His absence. He had to surrender the work to those that followed. And over 2000 years later, the work Jesus began continues, different than it was back then but still the same at its heart. 

Mentoring can be a rewarding experience for both the mentor & student. It makes the transition of power on a project or organization smoother & increases the chances of things continuing into the future. Never let your fear of change prevent you from turning the reins over to the next generation of leaders. Insure continuation & growth by choosing & mentoring your replacement. Then relax knowing you have placed things in qualified hands. 

Mentoring New Leaders Part 4: Train

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Your mentoree has watched you in action. You have explained to them how you do things & answered their questions about your techniques. You have given them the opportunity to try to do it themselves & had them tell you about the experience. Now it is time to train them to do it better.

I would like to differentiate between teach & train for the purposes of this material. When I talk about teach someone, I’m referring to more of a lecture type situation. You explain a subject in detail & take questions from the students. At this point, they may have no practical experience on the subject. Training comes after the student or mentoree has had the opportunity to apply the lessons they have learned through your teaching. Now they have practical experience however, they need their abilities refined. They are more apprentices than masters in the field. To give a broad example, medical school teaches students about medicine. They have the opportunity, through internships, to test what they have learned. Eventually, they move on to a residency where they receive more detailed training to refine their skills & abilities.

When the disciples would return from the mission trips Jesus sent them on, Jesus would take time to debrief them. He listened as they told Him what worked & what didn’t. They told Him about any problems they had. This debriefing is more for the mentor than the student. It gives the mentor the opportunity to discover areas that need more focus or topics that are confusing. It also helps the mentor understand things that simply don’t work anymore. If the mentor has been doing a task for years, there may be a newer or at least easier way to do it nowadays. You always need to listen carefully to your student. Your task as a mentor is to turn a job, position, etc. over to them. Unless you want to keep on doing it until you are gone, you need to help them discover the way that works best for them. That means combining your way & their way.

Training allows you to break bad habits before they begin, strengthen good habits & help your student discover the best way to do it for themselves.

One more step in the process & you’re ready to begin!

Mentoring New Leaders Part 3: Test

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The second biggest mistake mentors make, after not mentoring new leaders at all, is failing to test them. We tend to be too quick turning things over to the newbie before we are certain the are prepared. Offering them a short period of time to shadow you & then giving them only a bit of teaching before handing over the reins is worse than no mentoring at all.

When we drop everything into the newbie’s lap too soon, they may become frustrated when things fail to go well. Even worse, they may become embarrassed, believe THEY are to blame for their lack of success when the mentor is the one responsible.

Rather than quickly giving them the responsibility of their new assignment, take time to make certain they are ready. And the best way to do this is to test them. No, not a written exam! Instead, give them responsibility for an assignment while you are still there to offer guidance & advice.

Early in their training, Jesus sent the disciples out into neighboring towns to do ministry. He sent them out in pairs so they could support & encourage one another & to hold each other accountable. When they returned, Jesus talked to the disciples about their experience. What worked? What didn’t? Where did they have problems?

These mission journeys gave the disciples to practical experience, like an internship. They were able to fail on a small scale while Jesus was still available to offer them guidance & advice.

Nothing discourages a new leader faster than failure. It takes less time & effort to retrain them to overcome their mistakes & weaknesses than it does to start all over with a new person when your current new leader quits in frustration.

Take the time to do the job right!

Mentoring New Leaders Part 2: Teach

The disciples first had the opportunity to watch Jesus talk to large crowds & smaller groups, seeing Him share His message. These moments gave the disciples the chance to see Jesus model the behavior He wanted them to imitate & to hear the lessons He was sharing as He spoke to the public. This, however, was not enough. Jesus needed to be sure the disciples understood the lessons so they would be able to teach them later.

For this reason, Jesus always sat down with the disciples after these events & asked them if they understood the lesson He had taught. He would go over His message in detail, answering their questions until He was sure they not only understood but would also be able to share the message later.

It’s important for the new leaders you mentor to watch you perform the work they will need to continue when you turn it over to them. It is also very important that they understand the work they are supposed to do. For example, they may think an aspect of the work is minor without realizing how vital that small step is to the whole process.

A woman once spoke to me after I finished teaching a Bible study to a large group of women. She lamented her inability to do what I did, minimizing the gift of hospitality she had been given. Every week, she & her sister stood at the door, greeting every woman that came in & giving them a hug to make them feel welcome & at home. They performed this same task every year during our huge women’s conference. I told her I would probably be speaking to an empty room if not for the warm welcome she & her sister offered women every week.

If a new women’s ministry director had taken over without know the importance of this seemingly small task, she might overlook inviting the sisters to greet during Bible study & the conference. This task might seem small but it set the tone for every event the women hosted during my time working with the ministry.

New leaders must not only see the process in action, they must have it explained to them so nothing, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is overlooked!