Welcome to The SHAPE of a Leader. I write this blog with the SHAPE leadership development program (for women pastors) I lead in mind, but it is for all who are interested in leadership, faith, and the intersection of the two.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I'm Martha, Nice to Meet You

I gave a talk at the St. Paul Area Synod "Toolkit Conference," which is a conference for lay leaders in St. Paul area churches.  I spoke about strategic planning, from vision casting to execution. For the most part, I received good marks, but was dinged pretty hard by a person who said, "Where is the Holy Spirit in this process?"

Now I could get defensive and make all kinds of reasonable excuses, but instead I stop. Now's the time for reflection, not reaction. And as I reflect, I find myself thinking of Martha and Mary (Luke 10: 38-42).  And I realize that most of the time, I'm Martha - she's a woman who gets things done. I admit it - I admire that!

At times we are called to be Martha, who serves through "doing," and  that's admirable. But never are we called to be Martha in absence of Mary, who sits at Jesus' feet and listens and learns and worships Him, basking in His love and wisdom. 

So while I will always be a Martha, I will always strive to be more like Mary - first and foremost letting the Holy Spirit teach and inform all that I do.

Thanks for the feedback, anonymous one!

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's OK to say NO to Good!

I had a breakfast meeting with colleagues this morning and we started our conversation talking about saying no to good things.  Does it seem strange to say no to something good?  Yes, but consider this: if you have a pie filled with slices of good, there's no room for great when it comes along.  

I'm reminded of a Rob Bell video called "Shells." A family is collecting beautiful shells on the beach and the little boy has his little hands overstuffed with precious shells that he's hand selected from the deposits made by last night's tide.  And then two feet into the water he sees a starfish!  His dad encourages him to run into the water to get the starfish and the little boy is VERY excited. He runs in and then he comes running back and his dad encourages him again.  He does this three times and dad says "Why can't you get the starfish?! That's YOUR starfish!" and the little boy screams, "Because my hands are filled with shells!!!!"

And so I consider, when has all the good stuff in life prevented me from leaving room for great stuff?  Because "great" takes time and space to create.   We need to dream it, to consider it, to reflect on it, and to wait for it, and to see it when it comes along.  And if we're running so fast with and for the good stuff, we may just run right by the great stuff.

So, what "good" do you need to say no to so that you can be "great?"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Right Thing vs. The Easy Thing

The right thing and the easy thing are seldom the same thing…  in parenting, in relationships, in leadership.  The easy thing is a short term gain, like maintaining shareholder value. The right thing is a long term gain, like investing in an expensive product for the long term market share it can provide.  There’s a potentially tough conversation that needs to be had.  The easy thing would be to ignore it (avoiding a potential conflict)… the right thing is to have it.  The obvious upside is the positive outcome of the conversation; the intangible outcome is the legacy I leave in modeling strong authentic leadership. And that leaves a legacy.

Are you doing a good job? (REPOST)

Another one from Seth Godin...

One way to approach your work: "I come in on time, even a little early. I do what the boss asks, a bit faster than she expects. I stay on time and on budget, and I'm hardworking and loyal."
The other way: "What aren't they asking me to do that I can do, learn from, make an impact, and possibly fail (yet survive)? What's not on my agenda that I can fight to put there? Who can I frighten, what can I learn, how can I go faster, what sort of legacy am I creating?"
You might very well be doing a good job. But that doesn't mean you're a linchpin, the one we'll miss. For that, you have to stop thinking about the job and start thinking about your platform, your point of view and your mission.

It's entirely possible you work somewhere that gives you no option but to merely do a job. If that's actually true, I wonder why someone with your potential would stay...

In the post-industrial revolution, the very nature of a job is outmoded. Doing a good job is no guarantee of security, advancement or delight.