Be Perfect – Is That Possible for the Woman of Faith?

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48(NASB). 

As if there wasn’t enough to worry about, I have to be perfect too.  This week was a tough one business wise and personally.  Maybe because of celebrating another birthday for my son which made me realize how time is ticking on for me.  Maybe it’s trying to find the perfect way to revise NACWIB to be more responsive to the needs of the members.  Maybe it’s just being tired from all the traveling I’ve done over the past two weeks. 

Whatever it is I asked the Lord to give me some direction. So He told me through prayer “Be perfect.”  You’d think a busy, trying to be professional Christian woman would get a break.  But God is a God of perfection. Therefore He doesn’t pull punches by giving us a day off from doing the right thing in every aspect of our lives.  And as women of faith we should all be thankful for that.

Here’s the deal.  In striving to revive the National Association of Christian Women in Business (NACWIB) it started to get a bit tough.  What do people really want?  What do I provide to be a real service to the members?  I was tossing and turning at night trying to figure this all out.  Then the problem became obvious.  I had gotten away from the focus I keep telling members to keep; keep the focus on God first and only. 

For some reason trying to go in a new direction with the Association made me feel unsure.  I tried to write posts to encourage you to keep moving forward in your business and I got stuck.  I wanted to tell you not to give up and I felt like a fake.  It felt too hard; I wanted to give up.  The easy thing to do would have been to keep writing as if nothing was wrong, like I had it all together.  Don’t I have to appear like I have it all together and tell the members how easy it is to keep going and never have a bad day?  The easy thing would have been to fake it till I made it.  But there’s a real problem with that when it comes to NACWIB. 

The questions I should have been keeping in the forefront included, what does God want for this organization? How would the Lord be glorified through the messages sent to the mailing list subscribers?  What would He do to benefit the membership at this particular time?  These were the type of questions that would begin the right shift for NACWIB – and for my life.  

I made a commitment long ago to create this Association to serve the Lord and be a blessing to you.  Therefore, I get stopped in my tracks when I’m not open and honest.  Sometimes, I really hate that.  I don’t feel “powerful” or like I’m in control the way I feel I’m supposed to be.  Instead of feeling like a powerful, empowered leader, I start to feel weak. But in that, I finally figure out how to gain real strength. 

In my weakness I remembered to call on the Lord to give me the topics to write about or to know the direction to move in.  I asked Him to show me how to do the work.  As I started pouring out my heart to Him last night He gave me the verse “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48. 

I don’t know about you but this verse has always given me a double reaction.  First of all, I want to do the right thing before the Lord.  Secondly, I feel I’ll never be able to rise up to the task of being perfect according to what I thought this verse required.  So I tried to shake off the truth that this verse was given to me for this time. 

As you know, when God gives you something it’s going to stick for a long time.  Ignore it long enough and eventually the intensity start to fade a bit.  You might even be able to chase the thought to the back of your mind periodically.  But it will never go away for good.  I learned this a long time ago so I know to start praying about this instead of trying to fight it.  There are times when women of faith are required to face the hard commands if we like it or not and usually especially when we like it or not.  However, this is actually something God makes doable.

The Bible verse “be perfect” means to be complete, to reach a level of maturity in spiritual integrity that lets us exist in the world in a way that is a reflection of God.  God tells us to be set apart so we can be like Him.  Being exactly like God of course is impossible.  To reach the fullness of perfection will never happen as a human being.  Even the most powerful of the Biblical saints had their moments of frailty and outright sin.  Knowing that could actually provide a moment of relief.  But still a woman of faith can assess the grace to escape every temptation to overcome sin (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

Today, finding and accessing that grace is a real task.  More than ever the opportunity to fall off the wagon in the pursuit of perfection is more possible than ever.  Temptations include the normal daily interactions between people, accessibility to social media outlets, negative television programming, excuses to be angry, old problems that are unforgiven,  things that are confusing and lead to wrong choices, and on and on and on.  Doubts creep in, worry stops by to spend the night, sin happens.  You feel stuck, unworthy, like a fake, and get flooded with a lack of confidence. 

But that doesn’t take away the responsibility from Christian business women to be perfect.  Believe me, I wish it did.  Some days I’m just like any other normal business woman.  Sometimes I just want to slack off or forget about pushing forward in making this Association better.  I want to sit back and just hope people find the website, sign up, and become a member without putting in the effort to show them why it’s important or how joining will make their life better.  But that’s falling short of trying to reach a higher level of spiritual integrity as a Christian woman and a woman of spiritual integrity.  

Like every woman of faith my choice needs to be to decide to embrace that demand as a blessing.  I will be perfect.  I will pursue the integrity of doing business not only as something for other people but as a blessing to the Lord.  By making Him the focus of my everyday thoughts and activities I continue to seek being perfect.  I pray that you will be blessed as a result.

7 Key Concepts for Contemporary Leaders

Few people would argue that leadership is something that is needed in every aspect of public life.  For some people, the important concepts of leadership can often be difficult to grasp. Perhaps it is a lack of mentoring or modeling that causes hesitancy in people to act in a leadership capacity.  Another problem could be simply not having the understanding of what is expected of a leader in business or organizations.  Here are seven key concepts every effective leader must capture to be most influential. 

1. Effective behavior: As stated above a lack of role models acting in a leadership role in communities, business and organizations is a problem for many people. A leader is willing to behave in a manner that exemplifies the values purported by the mission statement of the organization. This behavior should be consistent over time and promote high ethical standards for others in the organization to model. 

2. Stand for Something. A leader makes his or her choices obvious to those around them.  That is, the leader stands for something.  The old saying is that if you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything.  By standing for choices with a solid foundation, a leader demonstrates how to maintain standards and how to come to a good decision. 

3. Works With Others.  A leader must be able to work with everyone including the person with the worse personality or the person that never speaks up in a meeting.  Leaders lead so others are inspired to be better.  Without the ability to get along with others, organizational goals will be hindered.  A leader gets past petty surface issues and deals with people at all levels in ways that bring about, and maintain, harmony. 

4. Unites others.  Not only do leaders work well with other but they inspire others to work well with each other. Leaders have the ability to unite colleagues around a common vision.  That means having the ability to communicate so diverse listening audiences understand what the future of an organization will look like and have the desire to be a part of that future by uniting their talents with others. 

5. Influences Stakeholders. Organization stakeholders are people that have some type of vested interest in the success of an organization.  An effective leader is responsible to ensure that stakeholders understand the operating direction of the organization and they are supportive of the activities within the organization.  That means sharing the vision, mission, goals and priorities with the stakeholders so they can be a part of the organizations movement.   

6. Stays Committed. A leader grows in levels of trust and respect by those they influence by being committed to stated goals, no matter the cost. This commitment is to organization goals, to the people the leader leads, to getting through difficulties, and from not backing down from challenges.  Leaders are not blame-throwers.  When something goes wrong they are willing to face the difficulties and shoulder the blame as needed while working continually to find a solution to the problem. By being committed, the leader inspires commitment from others. 

7.  Futurists.  Leaders are the ultimate futurists. Never satisfied to stay in the status quo, the leader can see a better future then makes strategic plans to reach it with the backing of loyal followers. A leader is not complacent.  They capture an innate creativity that lets them form plans to move forward, never being totally satisfied with a situation at hand while a problem still exists. 

While these seven practices are not all encompassing to leadership, they provide a good frame for what to expect of a leader.  If you are a leader in your organization or business, expect to be a life-long learner of people and organizations.  Others will expect you to boldly take a stand so they can feel confident to follow where you lead.

7 Key Concepts for Contemporary Leaders

Few people would argue that leadership is something that is needed in every aspect of public life.  For some people, the important concepts of leadership can often be difficult to grasp. Perhaps it is a lack of mentoring or modeling that causes hesitancy in people to act in a leadership capacity.  Another problem could be simply not having the understanding of what is expected of a leader in business or organizations.  Here are seven key concepts every effective leader must capture to be most influential. 

1. Effective behavior: As stated above a lack of role models acting in a leadership role in communities, business and organizations is a problem for many people. A leader is willing to behave in a manner that exemplifies the values purported by the mission statement of the organization. This behavior should be consistent over time and promote high ethical standards for others in the organization to model. 

2. Stand for Something. A leader makes his or her choices obvious to those around them.  That is, the leader stands for something.  The old saying is that if you don’t stand for something, you fall for anything.  By standing for choices with a solid foundation, a leader demonstrates how to maintain standards and how to come to a good decision. 

3. Works With Others.  A leader must be able to work with everyone including the person with the worse personality or the person that never speaks up in a meeting.  Leaders lead so others are inspired to be better.  Without the ability to get along with others, organizational goals will be hindered.  A leader gets past petty surface issues and deals with people at all levels in ways that bring about, and maintain, harmony. 

4. Unites others.  Not only do leaders work well with other but they inspire others to work well with each other. Leaders have the ability to unite colleagues around a common vision.  That means having the ability to communicate so diverse listening audiences understand what the future of an organization will look like and have the desire to be a part of that future by uniting their talents with others. 

5. Influences Stakeholders. Organization stakeholders are people that have some type of vested interest in the success of an organization.  An effective leader is responsible to ensure that stakeholders understand the operating direction of the organization and they are supportive of the activities within the organization.  That means sharing the vision, mission, goals and priorities with the stakeholders so they can be a part of the organizations movement.   

6. Stays Committed. A leader grows in levels of trust and respect by those they influence by being committed to stated goals, no matter the cost. This commitment is to organization goals, to the people the leader leads, to getting through difficulties, and from not backing down from challenges.  Leaders are not blame-throwers.  When something goes wrong they are willing to face the difficulties and shoulder the blame as needed while working continually to find a solution to the problem. By being committed, the leader inspires commitment from others. 

7.  Futurists.  Leaders are the ultimate futurists. Never satisfied to stay in the status quo, the leader can see a better future then makes strategic plans to reach it with the backing of loyal followers. A leader is not complacent.  They capture an innate creativity that lets them form plans to move forward, never being totally satisfied with a situation at hand while a problem still exists. 

While these seven practices are not all encompassing to leadership, they provide a good frame for what to expect of a leader.  If you are a leader in your organization or business, expect to be a life-long learner of people and organizations.  Others will expect you to boldly take a stand so they can feel confident to follow where you lead.

Organize and Write Your Book Tonight

Professional women, are you ready to write a book about your business or leadership experiences? Maybe you want to write a book to promote your special cause or non-profit organization? Maybe you want to record your professional memoirs? No matter the reason, writing your book will not be difficult once you get your thoughts organized and ready to put on paper. Follow these 7 simple steps and get your professional book going quickly.

1. List Your Thoughts
Are your ideas all over the place? Does your mind feel jumbled with everything you want to write? Slow it down by writing out lists of ideas you have on book topics. Once you write the list, go through and categorize them into topic areas. For instance, say you want to write about when you traveled through Europe with a backpack and became a travel agent? Maybe you’re ready to share lessons about your participation in protests or voting events in the 60’s and how it led to your political career? Perhaps you want to write about a hobby such as gardening or golf? Just go ahead and put the topics your interested in into categories.

2. Add to the Categories
Add additional information to each category. You might have a long list by now. Of all the topics you have, select the one that excites you the most or that you feel you have the most material on and focus on that one to start. Put all of the information for that topic on a separate paper so you can concentrate on that for your eBook.

3. Select the Chapter Headings
Out of the information in each of the lists you created, select a topic that will serve as a chapter heading. Take the strongest and most focused statement to serve as chapter heading. This will help you focus your chapters. Put everything you listed about that that topic into logical sections or an outline to form the chapters of your book.

4. Organize Chapters
Be sure the topics you listed underneath each chapter heading make senses to go with that topic. You can adjust this list later as needed. Put the information in logical order as you would find in a table of contents in a book. Pull out one of your favorite books to serve as a model or guide.

5. Fill in Chapter Material
Start to write subtopics in each section. Write as much as you know without having to think too hard. When you have exhausted what you already know, you might already have enough for a book. If not, research additional information or ideas to add. Go online and pull up the years you are talking about. Look for historical information from that time period to trigger more memoirs. Put in some more facts and information.

6. Keep It Focused
Your Book does not have to be lengthy. Some books by professional authors and leaders are only 50 to 75 pages. That is not very much writing. In fact, with 40 pages of writing, a front cover, table of contents, dedication page and disclaimer and copyright page and you have your 50 page Book ready to go.

7. Write the Introduction and Summary
Introduce the topic of each chapter with a two to three sentence introduction and write a summary for each chapter of the same length. Be sure the introduction provides teaser information that makes readers desire to keep reading. The summary should not introduce new materials but summarize the primary focus of the chapter.

Professional women with years of business and leadership experience have some of the most exciting first-hand experiences to share with others. Forget the excuses about not being able to write your book. As you put these ideas into place you will see how simple it is to get an book written in a very short period of time. You just have to get started to make it a reality.

Women in Leadership, The Lessons are In Your Story

When doing a study on women’s leadership, I found it necessary to conduct extensive interviews with women in leadership positions. To do this, a research survey was designed to ask focused questions on what gives a woman her unique leadership ability.  Still, when the women leaders were asked to answer these questions about their leadership skills, many of them couldn’t find a way to identify exactly what it was that gave her the ability to be a leader.  

Being a leader was so entrenched in these women’s very being that separating out the activities of leadership didn’t seem possible.  They just did what came naturally without thinking about it.  So it was necessary to take a different approach. Instead of asking the women to name the skills that made them a leader, they were asked to simply talk about their story as a leader. Having the chance to talk about their leadership stories was the key to finding the most important lessons from women leaders.  

The lessons were in the story.   

As the women simply talked about their leadership experiences, exciting stories began to emerge. 

One woman told the story of how she had decided to lead the fight for quality education in her community. With a group of other parents, she went to the City Hall to talk to the Councilperson about doing something to bring better educational opportunities to the schools in their community. When the group arrived at City Hall, everyone turned to her to be their spokesperson. That was her moment of becoming a leader.  

Another professional woman related how the leaders in her company needed some innovative ideas to help market a new line of educational products to an adult population. She knew how to work with this target group because she had taught adult education for years in a past job. So even though she was not in a leadership position with the company she decided to offer her suggestions.  As a result, her ideas created strategies that brought in a significant increase in sales for the company. This led to her being promoted to a leadership position in a new division in the company. 

Describing Behaviors is Not Always Easy 

Sometimes it is not easy to describe certain behaviors, such as leadership. But when you hear the stories behind the situation or event, you can find the lessons of the behaviors in that story. 

Finding and sharing lessons in stories can provide a way to mentor others, particularly to mentor other women, something that doesn’t happen enough. Within the words of a story, you can share the steps you taken, the insights gained, and the wisdom you use to put steps into action. 

Women can be great storytellers. Have you thought about how you can use your storytelling ability to share your leadership lessons, or other lessons with others? Think of how effective you could be when you learn how to find the lessons in your story and use them to mentor others.