I’m sorry, what was that?

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Listen to advice and accept discipline,
    and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Proverbs 19:20

Accept wise counsel, good advice?  Yes.  Please and thank you.  I have several good friends who I come to when I need wise counsel.  It might be a quick text, or a long phone call, but they are my go to squad for Biblical wisdom in my practical life.

There are days that I need to be talked down and prayed through a difficulty.  Moments happen where I need someone to tell me that my instincts are right, that I’ve done the right thing, or that the issue is not mine to bear.  Yes and amen.

Sometimes, I need some discipline.

What do I mean by discipline?

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I need someone to remind me to be disciplined.  “Gena, did you pray about it?”  “Girl, you need to fast about that.”    “Put on some worship music on, get in the Word, until He shows up.”  —>  Even leaders have moments where we get so wrapped up in all the busyness of the work that we haven’t prioritized our daily habits … nor left even room in the margins.  We can be so hurt by a friend or confused by a situation we want to talk it out versus take it to God.

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I need someone to discipline me.  I need that trusted friend who can say the hard things, so I can pursue the right things.  “Gena, you are wrong on this one.”    “Girl, you need to check your heart on that issue.”   “Humble yourself, and apologize.”  As hard as that can be to receive, it is even harder to give to a friend.

 

Having wise counsel is a blessing, even if what comes from it is a shaping.  Good friends know when to usher us into freedom, and when to reign us in.

 

 

 

 

 

Remember…

Remember Who You Are and What You Have Been Called To.

I had a burden on my heart.  Thoughts were weighing me down.  Old words were revisited with new wounds.  Confusion and disappointment were the best descriptors of how I felt.  I didn’t understand this moment.  I didn’t understand why God brought me back to this same place.  I didn’t understand why those whom I thought shared the same vision of me suddenly did an about face.  Fortunately, I had a good friend who was listening to me speak and asking me questions.

Finally, after about two weeks of nearly daily chats, she called me up.  I answered with a chipper tone and new attitude.  She asked what changed, and I said “I forgot who I was, I forgot what God had called me to.”  And she said, “there it is…”

For these many days she was actively listening, asking me questions, and guiding me to self discovery.  She knew this wasn’t a moment that I needed someone to give me all of the answers.  I needed to figure this out on my own.  Then she shared from her perspective what she had witnessed.

I had been setting aside myself (my dreams, my purpose, my vision) for someone else who was seeking my help.  I was still seeking approval of certain people, in certain levels of position, in order to validate my calling and purpose.  Instead of clinging to the ONE who had a plan for me before I was even conceived.  I was so wrapped up in helping in that sphere, that other things and people we being set aside.

I wish I could tell you that this was a moment that happened ten years go.  Or, that this was something that happened in my first few years of my walk.   Truth is, this moment happened in September 2019.  This year.  This month.  Just a few days ago.

Just because a person has been in Christ for decades, doesn’t mean we can’t get side tracked by what is “good”, what is “godly”, and others who come to use for help.  It is easy to say no or avoid those things that are obviously bad, ungodly.  It is not as easy to say no to good things, helpful things, and the things you can see God is orchestrating.  It is also hard to not want to be a part of the work you see happening, even if is small unnoticeable ways.

Just because a person is a leader, speaker, author, or whatever other title following their name, doesn’t mean we can’t forget who we are & what God called us to do.  Especially when presented with opportunities to participate in other good works.

As I came around this revelation, my friend pointed out the ongoing spiritual battles that have been happening our lives.  But compared to even just one year ago, we noticed a few things were different this time.  First, we recognized who was really at work in the confusion and chaos FASTER than ever before.  Within the first day, we had already acknowledged the spiritual battle.  Second, we responded BETTER and FASTER to those pokes and prods than we have in the past.  We are sharpening our spiritual weapons and strengthening our spiritual defenses.  Third, we didn’t battle any of it alone.  Out the gate, we are bringing at least one other person into the situation for wise counsel and prayer.

A verse the Lord keeps bringing me back to is Deuteronomy 2:3, in which the Lord says “You have circled this mountain enough times, turn and go north.”

As the enemy attempted to use an old wound to get under my skin, I claimed victory against it.  I spoke that verse out loud.  “I’ve been around this mountain before.  I’m not doing it again.  I’m going a new direction.”

Instead of allowing myself to get caught up in circling the mountain, I needed to remember who I was (in Him) and what He has called me to do.  I needed to see beyond the mountain.  I needed to hit the road and travel there.

If you feel like you are circling the same mountain, and getting no where fast.  Pray that the Lord would renew the vision in your heart and light a fire in you that will get you moving.  Pray that He would illuminate the path away from the mountain and toward His calling for you.

If you feel like you are circling this mountain within a cloud of confusion, pray on the Spiritual Armor and pray for God’s armies, rebuke the enemy that is trying to confusion your path, and march forward.

A Good First Impression

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It has long been an stat, regardless of industry, that it takes just a matter of seconds to make a good or bad first impression.  Between 10-15 seconds.

In the past, we had the ability to engage with a person directly.  What impacted those 10-15 seconds included not only the words being said, but our body language and vocal tones.

Technology and Social Media have changed the game, and now those first impressions are made before people will meet you face to face, step on your campus, or walk through your business doors.

Employers are finding potential employees’ social media accounts & using the information shown to weed out prospects before the first interview.   Colleges, churches, ministries, and non-profits are creating “Social Media Clauses” that indicate any impropriety online can be cause for dismissal.

Social Media has become a litmus that the every day consumer uses to gauge if a company or product is reputable, find information about organizations they are considering partnering with, and even to help narrow the list of places of worship they will consider for possible membership.

When we moved to our current city, technology had moved to the point where almost everyone had a website.  Now, some businesses have forgone the traditional website almost completely in favor of Social Media platforms.

As we relocated, finding a church was a top priority on our list.  My first order of business was to use a search engine to identify where the local churches were located in proximity to our home.  If the church didn’t have a website, I moved to the next result.  After opening the website, I searched for a few things:

  • About the Pastor – I wanted to know a little information about the Pastors, including what they looked like, their names, and how long they had been at the church.
  • Ministries Offered – As a mother of young children, a children’s ministry was important to me.  Anticipating a future in that church, I was also interested in if there was a youth ministry for my children as they aged.  I also look for a Women’s Ministry.   I have moved right on from a church website because I don’t see a Women’s Ministry listed.  If there is a Men’s Ministry too, that is a bonus!
  • Bible Studies/Sunday School or Discipleship/Mentoring – Having both is great, but at least 1 is a must.
  • Statement of Faith & Church Calendar – this tells me just about everything I need to know about the beliefs, culture, and life of the church.
  • Photos – whether randomly found on the site, or in a formal gallery, I am looking at the demographic of the church. Diversity is super important to me, I want to see different ages and stages, men & women, different ethnicities represented.
  • Past Sermons (audio or video) – the ability to listen to the Pastor’s message is huge, and being able to access many of them also gives me an eye into how they also address special events, types of guests they bring in to speak, etc.

A church website is a little more formal/static, whereas social media is fluid and organic.  In the social media accounts we not only get to see what the church says about itself, but we also get to see what others say about the church.

It was a few years ago that I was interviewing for a Women’s Ministry director position in a neighboring state.  I found their church website which also had links to their social media platforms.  A few quick clicks and I found the hashtag that the church used, by clicking through the hashtag I was able to not only see what the church had posted but also posts from members and guests.  I was also linked to a few articles that were written about the church by local press.

Before I set foot in the interview, before I even sent my resume to the church, I already knew a lot about the church and it’s impact in the community.

Your potential guests are looking at your website.  Your potential hires are looking at your Social Media.

What is the impression it leaves?  What does your website or social media say about you when you are not in the room?

Shipping Has Begun!

Order Now!

If you pre-ordered Women’s Ministry with Purpose, your book has already begun the shipping process and you should have it soon.  It is now also available on Nook (Barnes & Noble) as well as Kindle (Amazon) for immediate access via your e-reading device.

Don’t forget ANYONE who purchases Women’s Ministry with Purpose, regardless of when you purchase, will have access to our private Behind the Scenes Facebook group. In this group you will…

  1.  Receive Free Gifts!  Currently members are enjoying a custom curated Spotify playlist of my favorite worship songs.  They have also been gifted a custom wallpaper for their phone & desktop.  And most recently, I gifted a FREE 17 page “Praying for Your Women’s Ministry” prayer guide.
  2. Enter Giveaways!  There is some AMAZING gifts and launch swag coming your way if you are in the group.  There will be weekly opportunities to win.
  3.  Enjoy Community!  This is our group, where we can learn from each other.  Let’s talk Women’s Ministry, ministry leadership, or ask me about the book writing process.  We are better together, and I for one am happy to chat!

And, I have some other exciting things in store, coming soon.  For more information, CLICK HERE!

Thanks so much for your support!

❤ Gena

See what Megan had to say about Women’s Ministry with Purpose through GoodReads:

Gena B. McCown has written a must read for any woman in leadership or looking to launch a woman’s ministry! I am a third year MOPS coordinator and wish so badly I could have had this book from the start. This book is practical and offers tips for creating a successful gospel centered ministry.

I love how this book flowed. She started by talking about women leaders in the Bible and pointed out key passages where women are told to teach other women. She then got into talking about the creation and heart behind women’s ministry followed finally with the ongoing management of one as well as some pointers for challenges along the way.

There was nothing that I did not enjoy about this book and plan to use it as a reference tool and I will be buying a copy for my apprentice who will take my place. We will be taking the suggestions for fine tuning your ministry and I look forward to seeing seeds planted.

I am grateful to McCown for following GOD’s calling to write this book. I know many ministries will reap the benefits of this work. She will certainly be credited!

a decision a promise You Too_(1)

I’ve been contemplating the recent news of Pastor Jarrid Wilson’s suicide. I believe the evangelical/Christian world was blessed by his openness and candor about mental health. A topic we could do a LOT better of addressing head on as the church.

I also wanted to examine “my part” as a member of the body served by Pastors and staff members.

Here is the decision I made today, perhaps it will inspire you too. I think it is a good place to start…

A DECISION:

I have decided that unless it is an absolute emergency, I will not text/email/call our Pastors and Staff after office hours. Even if it’s just a quick question, even if it means I have to delay getting my ministry projects done until the next day.

A PROMISE:

I promise that I will honor their “off hours” when they are home with their families. I promise to respect their family time, and avoid interrupting that sacred time they are together. I promise to uphold their time of rest away from the church.

Captive Thoughts

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My heart was feeling very heavy over the last few days. My thoughts were circling around a moment & trying to decipher what it meant.
 
Was I looking at it through the lens of previous experience, and anticipating the same outcome?
 
Was I being too sensitive and needed a reality check.
 
Was the Lord showing me something, revealing to me something that I had not noticed before?
 
What could I do?
 
First, I took the thoughts captive. And, I don’t mean that in the way we usually mean it when we use that phrase. I mean, I took them literally captive. In other words, I didn’t share my thoughts with ANYONE else. Until there was an answer, I needed to keep my thoughts (which can be fickle, which are can be emotionally charged) to myself. Between me & God.
 
Second, I reached out to a friend for prayer. I gave no details or direction, just that I was in need of clarity and discernment. And, I’d like to add, that I am so thankful for a friend who doesn’t pry for more information.
 
Third, I went on with things as usual. It didn’t deflect me from my personal relationship with God, serving His church, or loving His people. I didn’t allow myself to shrink back into the moment, but instead operated out of it until I had clarity.
 
Fourth, and most importantly, I waited on God.
 
In a moment, unexpected, a conversation happened and through that conversation I was able to get the confirmation and affirmation that I needed.
 
By sticking to these 4 points, while my mind was racing… it was WELL in my soul. I trusted the Lord would take me where I needed to be. It’s sometimes a bumpy road to get there, but you still get there in the end.

When Helping Hurts

Originally posted on the Women’s Ministry Council page:

Hurricane Dorian has devastated the Bahamas.  As a Floridian, the last time I saw anything like this it was when Hurricane Andrew hit Homestead.  For those of us who remember Andrew, remember Homestead, we have a deep appreciate for what the people of the Bahamas are currently going through.  Loved ones are displaced.  Homes destroyed.  People are missing.  The storm has taken lives.  In our hearts we feel a deep need to do something to help.

helpinghurtsYears ago, I had an opportunity to talk about missions with some very long term missionaries.  I was surprised to hear about all of the things that we send overseas or things we do when we volunteer there… that are not only unhelpful, but actually counter productive.  At some point, missions became more about US than others.  It was a way to appease that part of us that wants to make a difference in the world.  It became a method or tool that we as parents use to send our children off to some other place where they will be suddenly humbled in to appreciation for the life they have.  This was also when I was introduced to the book When Helping Hurts.  I highly recommend it for all church leaders to read before you begin missions (local and global) in your church.  It will open your eyes to how we can better serve those who are in need.

Last year, a friend of mine showed me a series of pictures.  It was a missions supported school in another country.  In each picture you would see the same kids, in the same clothing, seated in the exact same position.  However, from photo to photo the banner with the school’s name changed.  Each banner reflected the name of the church or missions program that supported the school.  Why?  Because, it made the donors feel better to see their name on the school.  This wasn’t a scam, but a way to appease the donors so that the funds kept coming to support the school & keep it running.

A few months ago, a missionary friend shared with me how church missions groups come and go to their location.  She said, “This room has been painted ten times this year.”  I don’t know about you, but I don’t even paint the inside of my home once per year.  When I asked her why, she explained that they needed something for the visiting missions trips to do and painting was an easy project.  She went on to explain that they had tried construction projects in the past, but due to the lack of experience of the people on the trip, they often had to go back and redo all the work.

I went on a missions trip several years ago.  It cost me just over $1000 total.  Ever since I’ve wondered how much further my money would have gone, how much more good it would have done, had I just sent $1000 to the organization that received us.  That feeling has only been reinforced as I learn more and more about the other side of missions trips.  As I connect with more long term missionaries who open my eyes to what is really needed and how much of what is done is a waste to simply make us feel good.

That brings me to Hurricane Dorian.  The out pour of good hearted people who have a strong desire to help is heartwarming.  The Bahamian Government has provided a list of it’s immediate needs (and what it doesn’t need).  Locals are looking for donation drop off locations.  There are quite a few Facebook groups used to keep in touch about the Hurricane & now the talk has turned to Bahamas Relief.  Praise God for the generosity of humans when crisis comes!   Based on my observations, here are some questions I have compiled when you consider donating goods to relief.

  1.  Is it better to donate your stuff or your time?   We all have stuff to spare, but our stuff may not be what is most needed.  If you have the time to volunteer with the relief that may do more good than sending over piles of things you do not need anymore.  You don’t even need to leave your home town, volunteer to work at any of the collection centers.
  2.  Do they need your stuff or your money?   There are immediate needs for search and rescue, medical care, and clean up that take precedent over comfort items.  Money doesn’t cost anything to be transported to the location, it can often buy more when used by relief organizations, and they know best how to spend it.  For example, getting portable water filtration systems will product the same amount of water but for less cost.  It’s a long term solution that also doesn’t create the waste of bottled water.  Please Read:  After A Disaster Don’t Send Toys or Clothing, Send Money. Here’s Why.
  3.  Is sending these items going to help or hurt?   Certain items, like used clothing, are a logistical nightmare. Once received they must be cleaned, sorted, and stored.  In the case of the Bahamas, there is currently no where available to store clothing, nor do they have the manpower to sort it.  It could also take up valuable space for more needed supplies, or even get in the way of the relief efforts.  Not tomention where does one store the loads of clothes they have been given when they lack a home to keep them in?   Please Read:  Best Intentions: When Disaster Relief Brings Anything But Relief
  4.  Am I donating what THEY need or what I THINK they need?  When someone has lost everything, you may think the recipients will be grateful for anything you send.  You may think you know what they need, but do you really?   I have a garage full of items I have been gathering up for a yard sale.  All things that could help a person who lost everything get re-established.  The question I need to ask before dropping off donations is whether or not that will do good TODAY.  If not, then I can either hold on to the items until they do ask for those types of goods or have that garage sale but give all the money to a relief organization.

What can you do to help the Bahamas?

Pray.  People are still searching for family members, mourning those who have been lost, and coming to terms with the destruction.

Give.  There are great organizations like Samaritan’s Purse, The Red Cross, Convoy of Hope, etc. that are well known and established organizations.  Give financially and let their expertise funnel the money where it will do the most good.

Donate.  Listen to the reports on what the Bahamian Government needs and donate those items if you have them, or donate funds to purchase those items as needed.  Recovery is going to take a very long time.

Volunteer.  If you have expertise (recovery, building, medical, etc.) and can take some time off to volunteer… GO!  Use that expertise.  If not, look at how you can help locally by volunteering at local donation collection centers.