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on teammate-ness {from CM Leaders}

friday, i spent the day at CM Leaders -- a fantastic event designed just for those leading children + family ministries. because, it's always a good idea to step away from your own context and learn, connect with other leaders. the event is hosted by INCM, and led by this friend of mine. 

INCM is focused on 3 leadership arts: Develop, Lead, Disciple. i spoke during the Develop session, and shared on the topic i'm most being developed in right now -- becoming a better teammate to my peers. because, seriously, i'm a terrible teammate. 

a short summary of the talk: 

as leaders, somewhere along the road, we've learned that to be the best leader, we must be self-sufficient and keep our game face on at ALL TIMES. to show any real need for others, or to ask for help in leading is a sign of weakness and must be avoided at all times. 

sometimes, i’d chalk up my bad teammate-ness to being too passionate, too called, too focused on my work. how could i be bothered to look up and help my co-workers lead their ministries?

STOP. ridiculous. 

but, you know where that got me? exhausted. tired. a one-woman show. because when you’re a bad teammate, all’s you’ve got are people to lead, but no one to shoulder the burden with, no one to collaborate, and really, no one to make the ministry better because one person leading a ministry ever all totally alone is a terrible idea. always.

in the last year, as i’ve been leading at Willow Chicago, i’ve discovered that being a good teammate is a learned skill. and, is absolutely crucial to a successful ministry and a healthy life.

so, this is how i’m currently being developed. every single day. 

First, what do I mean when i say i’m developing into a better teammate? i mean that i’m learning how to collaborate with my peers (my fellow ministry leaders) with the intended goal of (1) aligning our ministries – in order to not cause unnecessary confusion for our congregation, AND (2) contributing to the overall goals and purposes of the larger church, and (3) sharing the weight and responsibility of leadership in my ministry. 

i’m experiencing something new. i’m being developed in a new way. my team shows me graciousness, care, and is committed to my success. in turn, they’re developing me, and I want to be more like them.

consider your teammate-ness. how good of a teammate are you to your peers?

Second, Patrick Lencioni. Always. The Advantage

teams should be like a basketball team – one that plays together simultaneously, in an interactive, mutually dependent, and often interchangeable way.

teams have: Collective Responsibility + Common Objectives, Practice Team Number One, Avoid Artificial Harmony, and Mine for Conflict.  

Third, what can you do?

Identify {your team}

Lean IN {go to them}

Trust {share with them, unfiltered}

Share the Burden {genuinely, shoulder it together}

Collaborate {create something great together, help solve each other's problems}

also: jesse's got some great notes here!


CM Leaders: 9|12

next week, 9|12 i'll be speaking at CM Leaders which is hosted by INCM, and taking place at Community Christian Church, Naperville Yellow Box. 

of course, you know, i LOVE all things local, and CHICAGO because i believe deeply in the magic and necessity of the regional network. it's just too-too easy to bury our heads in our computers and volunteer schedules and curriculum forgetting to look up and be reminded that we're not alone, that we're better and sharper in community, and that others just like us are waiting to help and collaborate. and, this event is just right for all of these things. 

so, come on by. especially if you are in the chicago area. you have NO excuse. and, even if you're not local, still come on by. but, BE WARNED. once you visit my city, you'll never want to go home. 


Julia's birthday, and holding things in tension

this weekend, we celebrated my niece Julia's 3rd birthday. it was just what you would expect -- fun, loud, silly, celebratory. because that's Julia, all things sweet and firery. 

on sunday morning, i texted my sister and brother-in-law congratulating us on our 3 year anniversary of delivering a baby together. they had invited me into Julia's delivery room to be present for her birth. it was one of the most special moments of my life, a memory for always. 

i'll never forget the moment Julia was born, early in the morning on August 31. my brother-in-law John and i looked at each other, too emotional to say anything, smiling, wiping tears. we were all sorts of every cliche, and i loved it. sacred, special. 

my husband and i don't have our own children. we've wanted kids for a long time, but for reasons unknown and at most times confusing to us, we don't yet. so, it made sense that when a few folks heard that i was going to be in Julia's delivery room, they wondered what that would mean for me. would it be too hard, too emotional, too much a reminder of God's unanswered prayers.

i worried about that, too. 

but, one thing i've learned through the process of wanting-and-not-yet-having-kids is how to hold things in tension. i never knew this before. i'm a girl of extremes. it's all good or bad. the middle, muddy area isn't really a place i'm familiar with, or really, never knew existed.

sometimes i think that was a naive place for me to be because i hadn't experienced enough life, or deep pain, to know that the middle ground where both pain and joy meet is an actual, real, functional place. life, really, isn't day-to-day comprised of either-or. it's a messy mash up, and holding things in tension, acknowledging that we can feel and function from both extremes is good. 

three years ago, in a delivery room, i felt my heart divinely split into two very equal parts -- pure joy for the arrival and anticipation of life with my new, sweet niece. and, total sadness for the child-less journey we'd traveled. in the tension, i've found, is the real life, beauty, sacredness, love.

on a side note: being able to hold things in tension is a very helpful skill in leadership, too. sure, would it be easier if we categorically called things good or bad, and led from that place? yes. but, the better option is to acknowledge the tension, that things can be both successful and challenging, life-giving and exhausting. and, that as a team, as your leader, i'll do my best to make decisions for the best possible outcome given our tensions. we won't ignore the tension, we'll say it as truthfully as we know how, and embrace it, confident that life and new-ness is born here.  

shortly after Julia was born, i shot a short video of her on the scale, being weighed, crying. her older sister Kate and i like to re-watch the video, she asks a million questions -- why is Julia crying? wasn't she happy to be born? why are her eyes closed? if she opened her eyes, she could see you and Papa and Mama and then she wouldn't be sad. all good questions, really. and, all reminders: open our eyes, see life and love around us, the thrilling and the scary, trusting good is found in both. 

happy birthday, Julia. love, always. 


Pastor Math

i love being a pastor. i love providing care for people. i love offering an encouraging word, a practical resource, a listening ear, helpful advice. most days, i'm in complete awe that people trust the church in their darkest seasons, and are open to receive help and care.  

i'm working hard to become a better pastor. i'm observing my teammates, who pastor so well. i'm reading books. mostly, i'm practicing, gaining experience in handling new situations.  

here's the bottom line, for me, anyway. to be better a pastor, i've got to be a better receiver.  

that's Pastor Math.  

give + receive = mutual blessing / community / shared pastoring  

brene brown says {of course, brene. love, love, love.} -- if you're great at taking care of everyone around you: making meals, praying, hospital visits, but you can't receive care when you're most in need, you really aren't as great as you think you are at giving care.  

if you can't receive care without judging yourself {i should be stronger than this. i can take care of myself.} then, at some level you're judging others when offering care {she should be stronger than this. i can't believe she can't take care of herself.}  

to grow in giving, i must grow in receiving. for me, that's being open with where i'm lacking and have need, receiving feedback, practicing honest vulnerability, and not feeling embarassed when others provide practical care for me.  

that's just good Pastor Math.  

because, my giving {pastoring} can never be as pure, intentional, helpful as i hope without receiving the same type of care from trusted friends, family, my faith community.  

we are chosen, blessed, and broken so as to be given. it is only as people who are given that we can fully understand our being chosen, blessed and broken. in the giving it becomes clear that we are chosen, blessed and broken not simply for our own sakes, but so that all we live finds its final significance in its being lived for others. -- Henri Nouwen

rest > work {practically speaking}

i'm trying, desperately, to re-orient my life. first: play, life, relationships. second: work. it's not easy. un-doing a life of work as priority and identity is proving quite the challenge. my high school band director {NERD ALERT} always said that it took 21 days to form a new habit. he's a liar. it's taken 21 days for me just to remember what i'm trying to do. hopefully, the next 21 will prove to be more successful. baby steps. just like learning to play the oboe. {seriously, NERD.}

this week's goal: trying to not see my life, or days, as either work or non-work. i want to see my life as LIFE. which means, equal parts work and non-work every day. 

i've noticed that i mentally divide the week into work days {sun-thurs} and non-work days {fri-sat}. work days are disciplined -- good sleep, good eating, no frills, no extras. non-work days are FUN! eating out, exploring the city, staying up late and sleeping in. i'm not sure how i got here, but i'm looking for integration, an equal balance each day of work and non-work, discipline and fun. 

practically, speaking, a few things that are proving helpful:

len sweet's new book the well played life has been BIG time helpful. highly recommend. 

tried a new restaurant with kelly on tuesday night. WHAT? reserved only for weekends. 

baby steps. people. 

experimented with a new workout routine in order to focus my body + mind. yesterday, tried this. {as encouraged by my favorite gal.} i NEVER work out on sundays after church. but, yesterday's workout helped to fuel last night's non-work time, and this morning's work time.

we took a mini-vacation day on saturday to our favorite beach. we usually reserve beach trips for longer vacations, but a full day away felt like a week, and led into good energy for a busy work week. 

that's all for now. tiny, tiny steps. advice or suggestions? i'll take it HAPPILY.