Center Stage

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It was nearly twenty five years ago, that I walked into a new theatre class.  The instructor had everyone begin physical warm ups, followed by vocal warm ups.  He began an exercise where we were supposed to move around the room, walking … running… skipping… dancing… any movement we chose, and he would pop up from behind us and ask us questions about ourselves.

What is your favorite color? 

Who do you love more your mother, or your father?

Why are you in this class?

What kind of car do you drive?

All very random.  An exercise to help us feel the ease of answering some questions versus the difficulty of others.  How did answering change the way we moved across the room as we answered?  How did answering change our body mannerisms, our vocal tone?  Then he asked this poor girl…

Why do you want to be an actress?

She replied:  I want to be famous.  I want people to know who I am.

He told her to leave his classroom, this class was for serious actors only.

I thought her answer said so very much more.  It spoke to me of a girl with insecurities, looking for validation in success.  Famous would mean that her work was good.  Famous would mean she was known, respected, seen.  Famous would mean that she was not being looked over any longer.  She was fragile. And yet, she was brave.  I believe a lot can be said for her honest answer, even if the teacher didn’t see it.  I saw it.

I have loved the theatre and performing as far back as I can remember.  It all began in a Kindergarten Circus.  We built costumes, putting on a show for our family members and other students.  It was amazing.  I received such accolades for my lion costume, my teacher took me around to the other teachers to show off my curly mane constructed from several shades of brown construction paper.  I was an excellent lion.  Years later, I was an excellent snobby heiress.  Many years later, I received my first newspaper review for a stunning performance… followed by one that identified me as hilarious.

As much as I have loved the on stage aspects of theatre, I have always had a special affinity for the backstage happenings.  Planning, staging, building sets, lighting design, costume construction, special effects make up.  I’ve directed more shows than I have been cast in, received recognition and awards for my work.  Yet, one of the most valuable things I’ve taken away from all of these experiences came from the moment I understood what that teacher really meant when he sent that student out of his classroom.

I can tell immediately when someone “belongs on the stage”.  There is something about them that feels natural, at home, on the stage.  I can tell when someone doesn’t belong too.  Sometimes, they were cast because they looked the part but lacked the talent.  Other times they wanted to be in the show for the attention, but lacked the commitment to the part.  I’ve even seen incredibly talented actors look so out of place on the stage simply because their passion was something incredibly different.

You can be good at something, but that doesn’t mean it is your passion or calling.  You can be terrible at something, but forced into that position to fill a void or because someone else thinks you are perfect for the role.  You can even thrust yourself into the fray because you think it will give you what you are looking for, but your attempts are misguided.  This student was told to leave the class because she was looking for attention and validation, and the teacher knew it would never happen.  He knew that she was throwing herself into the shark infested waters, hoping that her talent would save her.  He knew that throngs of people, critics, and the industry would eat her alive.

I thought he was cruel that day.  Now, I see him as being merciful.  As I think about her now, I remember we shared another class a few years later.  She was different, more confident in herself.  I’m not sure what happened after she walked out of that first class… but this was not the same girl.  If I had to take an educated guess, it would be that her motives changed.

Now I am in a different “industry”, filled with writers, speakers, and ministry leaders.  In the last six months, I have had multiple people tell me they feel called to writing, public speaking, etc.   I often find myself asking (in my head) as similar questions as my old teacher.

Why do you want to write?  Why do you want to speak at events, conferences?

Why are you moving toward center stage?

We must examine our own motives and desires.

Are we putting Christ center stage, or ourselves?

Are we sharing our words, opinions, perspectives or God’s truth?

Do we want people to look at us, see us, validate us?  Or, are we giving God the spotlight acting as His humble messenger?

If we enter a public arena with faulty motives, we are throwing ourselves in among the shark hoping that our gifts will save us from the feeding frenzy.  However, when our motives are in line with God’s desires then He is given center stage.  We don’t have to rely on our gifts to save us, because we have already been saved.  Our joy comes in sharing not our own selves with the world, but instead sharing the life changing power of Jesus Christ.

Book Tour! Day 8 – Leadership Promises

Welcome to my 10 Day Book Tour.  I love to read, and I am often given books to read for review.  Over the last year, I determined that I didn’t want to turn my blog into a book review site.  However, I can’t help that I LOVE books.  I truly do.  They add so much value to my life, because I learn from them and glean new perspectives from the authors who put their hearts to the page.  So, I’ve decided that each quarter, I’m going to do a 10 Day Book Tour.  What have I been reading, what do I honestly think about the book, and to whom I would recommend it.  Each day, for ten days, you will get a peak into my bookshelf.

I received a copy of Leadership Promises for Every Day, Daily Devotional by John C. Maxwell for the purpose of reviewing.  My thoughts and opinions are my own.

DAY EIGHT:  LEADERSHIP PROMISES FOR EVERY DAY by John C. Maxwell

Leaders really do need to be encouraged.   Leaders, good ones, are constantly pouring out into others.  We can’t pour out of an empty vessel, so leaders need to have someone who is pouring into their lives.  This isn’t always easy though, especially if you happen to the be at the top of the ministry ladder.  I love this devotional, where John C. Maxwell pours a daily dose of scripture and leadership wisdom into my life.

I’ve enjoyed the book so much, I have in turn found myself giving it as a gift to other leaders.  I would have preferred a “Day 1”, “Day 2″… format over a calendar dated format.  But, that may be my OCD talking… because despite flipping through it… I literally waiting until January 1st to official start using it.

Additionally, I get a lot of great feedback from those who received it as a gift.  Which really spurs me on to continue gifting it, knowing that it’s not just me… but various leaders who are benefiting from these devotions. 

Recommendations:  Pastor Appreciation Gift,  Ministry Leader Birthday, Anniversary, or “Just Because” gift, Speaker Gifts, etc.

 

Women’s Ministry Resource – #Write31Days

If you are a Women’s Ministry Leader, or thinking of starting one at your church…  there is a great website that is full of resources that may be helpful and an online forum where you can ask questions.   For the next 2 weeks they are offering this free download ebook, with contributions from Women’s Ministry Leaders around the country.

Click on the cover below, and it will take your right to the page to register for the ebook.

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Tend the Orchard – #Write31Days

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This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,

showing yourselves to be my disciples.  John 15:8

Oh, to bear much fruit.  Good fruit.  This is a good thing for the body of believers.  In order to bear much fruit we need a few things to happen.

  • Seeds of the Word planted in good, fertile soil.
  • Daily exposure to the Son.
  • Nourishment through the Living Waters.

Our roots grow deep in the word, our tender shoots are fostered the God and the Pastors who lead the church we sit in from week to week.   We grow stronger, and then it is time for us to begin bearing good fruit, much fruit, and fruit that is long lasting.

Whether you are leading a church, a women’s ministry, or a small group… you will have an impact on how much fruit your members produce.

A careless orchardist will trim back the trees too far, which can limit their growth, limit their fruit, and even kill the tree.

A good orchardist will know how to trim to tree in a way that will encourage growth, foster repeated burst of fruit, and tend to the tree so that it continues to produce fruit for many years to come.

A few years ago, a woman I know approached a Pastor.  She had a gift and talent, and she wanted use it in her church.  He didn’t spend anytime talking with her about her offer, he responded swiftly:  “We don’t do that here. Thanks for offering.”

This past summer, I was speaking with a Pastor about the role of women’s ministry in the church.  As I shared my view on the need for women’s ministries to come up along side the Pastor’s vision, he placed his hand on my shoulder and said:  “What I want the women in my church to do, to help me the most, is to serve their husband and children well.”

A man I know spent years evangelizing on the streets of his city.  By the time he moved to a new city, he had gotten wrapped up in life, and a bit complacent.  After attending a men’s conference, he was convicted of his lukewarm Christianity and was ready to step back up to the plate.  He met with his new Pastor, confessed his complacency, and said he wanted to serve in the church.  The Pastor didn’t even take a moment to learn about this man’s background, but instead responded:  “No, brother.  Let us serve you.” 

I’ve listened to women share ideas at Women’s Ministry meetings only to have their suggestion dismissed for a myriad of reasons.  A leader who can’t see the value others can add to the ministry, looking for workers to do her bidding vs. Kingdom work.  Dismissing ideas without even listening to them in entirety.  Dismissing people who want to serve without knowing their background, credentials, or heart to serve.

In the last several years, I have spoken with many men and women who have stepped up to the plate to bear fruit, only to be trimmed back sometimes to the point of death of their dream or calling.  A person can only be rejected so many times before they stop offering.  A person can only be dismissed so many times before they stop feeling valuable.

The Bible tells us that every believe is given gifts, fruit bearing gifts.  These gifts will vary, and how they will be used will vary as well.  A leaders we have a responsibility to help those we lead identify their gift, develop that gift, and find a place to serve with that gift.

Not just some believers, but all believers.  That means when a Pastor looks over his podium to the 50 people or 5,000 people who are in his flock… each person has a gift to bear fruit.  If your body is not bearing fruit, it’s imperative to determine WHY.  If you are leading a Women’s Ministry of 15 women or 150 women, and your ladies are not bearing fruit, there must be a reason.

Before we look out to the faces we serve to place blame, we must examine ourselves as the leaders first.  Am I guilty of dismissing the gifts of service that have been offered to the ministry?  Am I guilty of dismissing people who have sought to step up to the plate and serve? Am I guilty of not recognizing the gifts in all of our members, helping to develop those gifts, and finding a place for those gifts to be used in our church or community?

A tree that has the gift of bearing fruit, can only bear good, plentiful, long lasting fruit if the conditions for this success are met.  If the Lord has planted a good seed in fertile soil, light from the Son, showers of Living Water… the roots will grow.  However, if that tree is continuously neglected by those charged to care for it and trimmed too far back, the fruit will be minimal … if any at all.

40 Under 40 – Nominations Are Open

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WomensMinistry.net has begun a campaign to celebrate 40 Women’s Ministry Leaders under the age of 40, who are making impact in their community and churches through their Women’s Ministry leadership.

Click on the Forty Under 40 image above, and you’ll be taken to the nomination process.