Woe betide me…

…if I ever forget to thank the person or the team for the effort they’ve made.

…if I ever forget to encourage them where they have done well.

…because if I forget, they may think they are not valued or gifted. Doubt can creep in. Hurt can follow.

But most of all, I’m not being loving if I don’t do these simple things.

Order

I like things to be ‘just so’ – not that you’d know from my untidiness, but my Mum will tell you how she watched me freak out about cutlery drawers and book shelves when I moved my stuff into to my flat in Aberdeen for the first time, and how a couple of weeks ago I emptied out the thorn in my flesh – her tupperware cupboard and organised it all. My friend Phil will tell you how he nicknamed me ‘Monica’ because I had to wash the dishes in a certain order (glasses, mugs, cutlery, plates, cooking implements) and some of the people at my old work (TRCF) will tell you how I would rearrange the dishwasher. My friends Brian & Vicky might tell you how they went on holiday and came back to find I’d reorganised their DVD cupboard. Or how previous boyfriends have relented and let me organise their CDs and books into ORDER.

When things are not in ORDER, I tend to freak out a little.

I like to know exactly what I’m supposed to do, if I don’t know, I just will not do it. I like to know where I can find out things. I like things to have a place to belong to.

Like Cassie the Corsa has her space. She belongs in that space between my Mum’s driveway and her husband’s driveway. Occasionally, someone parks their car in that space.

The result is this: ‘Harumph…grumble, grumble *as I park my car further down the street, get my stuff out the backseat and stomp up to the house, enter through the front door* Can you believe that someone has parked in MY parking space?!?!?!?!??!!!!!’

I also get extremely distressed if procedures have not been followed in our centre. Nothing spreads fear more than Laurie doing the sadistics statistics. Woe betide ANYONE who has forgotten to collect the required data. Especially if I have more unknown data in a month than ‘known’. If I’m the culprit, I do actually yell at myself.

The reason I like order, is I like to be able to be in control. I like to plan. I want to be the one to do things well.

There is definitely a direct correlation of order:usefulness in my life!

However, it can be my downfall as an effective leader as much as it can also be a strength.

How on earth can people I lead learn, if I don’t give them the space to make mistakes which are part of the learning experience?

How can people flourish in the person they have been created to be if I insist they have to do things MY WAY?

It’s something I’m having to learn and check myself on.

Because I want my team to spread their wings and fly…together.

More lessons in leadership

This leadership thing is tough.

For those of you who hopped over to Shelley’s blog last week to read my guest post (thank you to all of you who left me a comment, I really appreciate every single comment I get on any post I write) you might realise that I have a fair bit of insecurity regarding my current status in this area!

It has not been an easy ride.

I’m battling the whispers and memories of negative words spoken over me. Why is that you always remember the bad stuff? My friend Tam talked about this recently, and I can only echo my agreement with all she said in her post that day. The power of word is huge.

These battle scars are not ones that can be seen. And it is so easy for old wounds to be reopened.

Something that deeply concerns me is the lack of support and the unwillingness of organisations to open their doors to pregnancy crisis support, sex and relationships education and post abortion & miscarriage recovery. People seem to be scared of what I do. It seems to make them uncomfortable.

There is a huge generational gap in our organisation, and as cancer seems to attack (quite literally in some cases) I worry that with death or retirement our work is going to die too. And it is still so needed.

Something I’m trying to encourage the folks in leadership of centres across the country is making sure they have pastoral support, a team of encouragers and prayer warriors and to be training up the next generation.

I’m making that my own goal for this year.

Lead by example.

I want people to learn how to do my job – because if this year has taught me anything, it’s that even though I’m ‘only’ 26, I don’t know how long I have here. I need to be replacable! If I’m Moses, I need a Joshua, and if I’m Paul, I need a Timothy… :)

The one thing I have very little control over is financial support, pastoral support, encouragers and prayer warriors. About 99% of this form of support I receive through cyberspace. Lovely, but not ideal. I’m so thankful it has been there though. I don’t think I’d have got this far otherwise.

The nervousness of ‘shocking’ people. As I spoke to the group in front of me in the Highlands on Monday night, a few eyebrows were raised, some expressions stony…but eventually there were smiles (phew!). But the stigma and fear of being part of this kind of ministry seems to remain.

In the meantime, we end up having to turn away people needing our help because of the lack of resources.

I’m not sure if that makes me sad, angry or just decreases my faith….or maybe a combo of all of the above!

Leading and loving it with others who lead it and love it!

Well.

It’s Friday.

It’s safe to say that I’m now barely functioning after all that’s been going on this week. It’s not been a bad thing, just one of those weeks where everything seems to happen and you seem to be continually running late for everything. I’m realising that things are slower as I get used to  being in a new place, a different supermarket (that I don’t know my way around), a different part of the city, totally on my own.

One of the best things though is why I’m so tired today.

Leading and Loving It

Last night, after getting home from a Powerpoint run through/practice/sound check, I got ready for bed and then sat by my laptop as I waited for 1 a.m. to arrive. It was 5 p.m. in Las Vegas and that was the time I got to video conference for a virtual roundtable with 7 other ladies who are all in leadership in a Christian ministry.

And I discovered what I’ve been so lacking in the last few years since coming to Edinburgh – the wisdom, encouragement and discipleship specific to learning how to lead better.

Not only was I able to listen, to pray for these wonderful women on the ‘other side of the pond’, I gained such wisdom from their experience. I was discipled (whether they realise it or not) –  pointed in the direction of resources to learn about leadership and ministry, but also challenged in how I can do this. Even given some practical tips, advice, ideas for some of the challenges I’m facing personally and work-wise in the ministry I’m currently involved in.

I hope I was able to give some ideas and encouragement too.

One quote I think will stick with all of us which one of the ladies shared was this:

You will go faster by yourself, but further with others”

-David Bergen

I hope I got that right (sorry Mr Bergen if I misquoted you…)

So while I’m now very sleepy with the excitement of having chatted and prayed with my American sisters until 3 a.m., gone to work, come home, showered, lunched, watched the opening World Cup game (well done Tshabalala – that goal was beautiful, stunning, poetry-worthy – Go Bafana Bafana!), headed to Powerpoint, sang my socks off for Jesus with many others, prayed…it’s been good.

Looking forward to some chill time on Sunday though!

Maybe I’ll get a chance to read Plan B?

:)

Lessons in Leadership

Leadership.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this week. I still find it very difficult to believe that I’m a woman in leadership, and to get my head around the responsibility that comes with it.

Because most of the time, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing.

As a kid I was always, always a leader. Pupil council. Organising games in the playground. Sixer in the Brownies. Patrol Leader in the Guides. Causing rebellion in the dance class. Creating and teaching dance routines to 20 eight year olds. Fulfilling my role as big sister (and then some).

Something changed a little when I went to uni. Perhaps it was because for the first time I was the youngest. Maybe it was because I felt when I went to church that I wasn’t good enough (divorced kid, turning up to church hungover etc etc!). I lost a lot of confidence in my ability to lead others.

Actually the person that really brought the best mentoring and confidence in my potential was my boss in my first Community Education job. I came in timid, and they knew I was a Christian so my youth work was scruntinised (they didn’t want me abusing my position to ‘impose my views on vulnerable young people’) and I felt I needed to prove myself somehow without compromising my beliefs and values. I had an amazing partner in Ashley, and we ended up becoming very good friends. Within months our boss was stretching us, and recognising skills in us got us doing more and more…even training other youth workers in the district (as a 19 year old, I was frickin’ terrified!).

I love that with my old boss, when we weren’t sure, we could ask. He might tease us, but he never tore us down. He simply helped us learn, he trusted us, and he supported us as we tried out new things. Like he came with me to the first session I have with the young parent’s group to make sure I was ok. After that, he’d talk to me before hand to make sure I was ok, and debrief with me after.

He did the same with the other Youth Advice Workers.

I so appreciate him for that.

I’m a better leader because of him.

I like to take the time to get to know our volunteers. It’s why when the ‘new’ volunteers are in the centre I don’t get as much work done. I want to get to know what they are good at, what they want to be better at, what they do and don’t feel comfortable with. What’s going on life that could affect their work with us. When they first start out, I’ll stay in the room while they answer the phone, so they know if they get stuck they can pass it on to me. (They usually don’t, but it takes the fear away a bit).

Am I a perfect leader? Heck, no. Anyone will tell you that.

I’m a leader who is learning from her mistakes on a daily basis.

But I hope that I encourage those I’m leading and never tear them down.

South Africa Fortnight…Phil & Rachel Bowyer

South Africa fortnight continues at LFS Introducing... with another guest.

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while will know that I was in Durban, South Africa in July 2009. Well today, you get to meet the family who moved from England to South Africa to start the organisation that was behind it all!

If you have the time please head over to say hello to Phil, Rachel & Zachary Bowyer who are currently living in Durban, South Africa.

Phil & Rachel sent me so much information about how they started Soul Action South Africa, the current issues facing the communities in Durban & the surrounding region of KwaZulu Natal and some of the new intiatives that were started this year (those of you who were at any of Soul Survivor’s summer festivals last year – you helped make this happen!) so there are more details plus some photos on an ‘extra’ post here. They’ve also written a few books & resources which I’ve linked to in that post.

Through the eyes of…

Just been alerted to the fact that I feature on Lori Wilhite’s blog today!

Through the eyes of…the Crisis Pregnancy Center Coordinator

She picked the photo off my facebook profile – lol!

Thanks Lori for letting me share on your blog, been such a privilege getting to know you &  to go to church with you on Sundays at Central’s Facebook Campus, and I always giggle when I see the ‘Americaneze’ spellings! You guys have an unfair advantage with Scrabble. :)

Riding the wave

Today one of our newest volunteers asked me about how I ended up working in the pregnancy crisis centre.

Yeah, long story, right? One of our mutual friends, who worked for the centre at the time of my employment came in and immediately started picking up on what I’d left out.

Everything in my life has had a purpose that leading up to this point. It’s so obvious looking back now, but it certainly wasn’t always clear at the time.

In 4 hours time I need to be up to drive to the airport and start making the journey to Basingstoke. I can’t sleep.

I was reading Angie Smith’s blog. I wasn’t expecting to see a ultrasound picture taken at 10 weeks gestation.

Yes, that was the stage of pregnancy I was at when I had it terminated.

It was a little bit of a kick in the guts to see that, I’ll admit. Sometimes I wish I could turn back the clock, and bizarrely I don’t want to turn it back to the point before she was conceived to change things in that way. Turning back the clock I wish I would have had the information, support and courage to make a different decision.

You can’t think like that though. Because if it hadn’t been for Sophie being part of my life, I wouldn’t have the wisdom and understanding I have now. The perspective I have when I meet with clients, or abortion providers is different from many of my colleagues. It’s not that I necessarily agree with the people who think it’s all ok, it’s that I get where they’re coming from…because I used to have a totally different viewpoint.

God is doing some crazy things with this work, ministry or whatever you want to call it.

Crazy in the best and in some cases, most unexpected of ways.

He is, as Sarah Chia put it earlier this year, widening my territory.

And yet, I’m not that close to God as I once was. My quiet times are um, yeah, embarrassingly few and far between. My prayer life sucks compared to what it once was. There are lots of things in my life that need sorting.

I feel like I’m just riding this wave of God…He seems to have me along for the ride whether I like or not really!

The majority of the time, I do like it. I love it. The life God has for me is never dull.

But it is sometimes tough.

Um, actually a lot of the time it is tough.

I need to get prepared - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually – as much as I can for what God has in store for 2010.

How do you do that? Answers on a postcard (or blog comment) please… :)