A Wise Woman

I’ve grown up with wise spiritual women in my life. Both of my grandmothers were faithful believers and prayed faithfully for their family. My mother Susie is also a strong wise woman that faithfully prays, serves and leads in her church. She prays for me and my two brothers and our families every day.

My wife Vikki is such an inspiration with the way she faithfully serves others. I see her serving our neighbors, our friends, in our church at multiple campuses, and of course serving me. She is dependable, reliable and gets things done.

I also had a strong woman that came into my life and helped me in ministry.  Wilma learned quickly, grew spiritually and became a leader and wise woman to many people.  She helped build a large team of mentors at our church, that’s still going strong today.  Many of the women she poured into are now leading ministries and other people.

During my five plus years at NewPointe Millersburg, while I was Campus Pastor, I had several women that consistently prayed for me, encouraged me and listened to me.  Linda, Elaine and Beth have been such a blessing to me and many others.  There are many other women that I’ve served with, worked with and been around that are wise spiritual leaders.  I’m so grateful for how God has placed these women into my life at just the right times.

The Bible is filled with many amazing women that we read about, like Mary,Sarah, Ruth, Esther & Abigail.  But I want to share a story about an unnamed wise woman that saved a city.  We don’t know her name but she was an amazing woman.

The story is found in 2 Samuel 20.  Let me set up the story for you.  This is during the time of King David.  Davids own son Absalom, had rebelled against him and they go to battle and his son is killed in battle.  David is devastated and mourning the loss of his son.  Another man sees an opportunity to rebel against the King.  His name is Sheba, and he stirs up a group of people that want to over throw King David.  King David finds out about this plan and he send his military leader Joab after Sheba, they chase him and his followers to a city called Abel.  We pick up the story in verse 15:

Joab and his troops came and surrounded Abel, so that no one could go in or come out. They made a dirt ramp up to the town wall and then started to use a battering ram to knock the wall down.

A wise woman shouted from the top of the wall, “Listen to me! Listen to me! I have to talk to Joab! Tell him to come here!” 17 When he came, the woman said, “Are you Joab?”

“Yes, I am,” he answered.

She said, “Please, listen to what I have to say.”

“All right,” he said. “I’ll listen.”

18 She said, “Long ago people used to say, ‘If you want good advice, go to the town of Abel to get it.’ The answers they got here were all that was needed to settle any problem. 19 We are Israelites, and we want peace! You can trust us. Why are you trying to destroy a town that’s like a mother in Israel? Why do you want to wipe out the Lord’s people?”

20 Joab answered, “No, no! I’m not trying to wipe you out or destroy your town! 21 That’s not it at all. There’s a man in your town from the hill country of Ephraim. His name is Sheba, and he is the leader of a rebellion against King David. Turn him over to me, and we will leave your town alone.”

The woman told Joab, “We will throw his head over the wall.”

22 She went to the people of the town and talked them into doing it. They cut off Sheba’s head and threw it to Joab.

Joab blew a signal on his trumpet, and the soldiers returned to their homes. Joab went back to David in Jerusalem.”

Here are my takeaways from this amazing story:

  • God uses wise women leaders to bring peace and solve problems.  It can be very helpful to have a woman’s perspective when trying to solve problems and make peace.
  • This wise woman was more concerned about the people around her than herself.  Wise women are selfless and have a heart for the people they serve. They willingly sacrifice of themselves and put themselves in danger in order to help those around them.
    • I have seen countless women loving, leading and serving their families , friends, extended family and still running businesses, households and church ministries.
  • This women had influence and was able to lead the entire community to make a hard decision.  Wise women can mobilize people to get things done, and make a difference.
  • She was decisive and moved quickly once she knew what had to be done.  A wise women does not procrastinate, she has too many things to get done.
  • This wise women did what she said she would do.  She was confident and knew what steps were needed to solve the problem.  She was a woman of solid character.
  • She was direct and to the point.  She went straight to the leader found out what the problem was and then put a plan together and made it happen quickly.  I love that!

So to all the women, this is a message of encouragement to be bold and lead.  Seek God with all your heart, get healthy spiritually & emotionally and see how God will use you to make a difference.  Lead right where you are, in your family, your workplace, your community, your city and your church.

To all the men, appreciate the gifts God has given to the women around you.  If you don’t have some strong, wise women in your life ask God to bring them around you.  They will make your family, ministry, organization and community a better place.  If you have wise women in your life be sure to thank them and appreciate them.

Lead On!

Searching for Donkey’s

There is a story in the Bible where a young man named Saul is asked by his father to go and search for his donkey’s that wondered off and are now gone.  Saul takes one of the hired hands and some supplies and heads out to find the donkey’s.  They search all over the area and keep going for three days searching every place they can think of, but they cannot find the donkey’s.

After three days they think it might be wise to head home as his father is probably getting worried about them.  No cell phones in those days.  The hired hand says, wait I heard about this man of God that can prophesy or tell the future and he may be able to tell us where to go next to find these donkey’s.

So they find this man that is a prophet from God.  His name is Samuel.  When they meet Samuel he seems to be expecting them and invites them to go with him to a special meal he is having with some important people in town.  He gives Saul a choice seat and a choice meal.  Saul eats the meal and has a great time and they talk after the meal and get to know each other.  Samuel also tells Saul that the donkey’s have been found and they can return home the next day.

The next morning Saul is getting ready to leave and Samuel joins him and walks with him to the edge of town.  Saul is probably wondering why Samuel was so interested in him and why he is walking with him to the edge of town.

When they get to the edge of town, Samuel stops, takes a vial of olive oil and pours it on Saul’s head, anointing him, and then kissed him.  Whoa, what just happened?

Samuel then tells Saul that God has made him the ruler over his people, the people of Israel.  He just anointed Saul King of Israel.  He then goes on to tell him what is going to happen next as they travel home, who they will meet, and what he should do each step along the way.  As Saul turns to leave God does a work in his heart and fills him with the power of God and everything Samuel said would happen did happened.  Saul did just what Samuel told him to do and he became the King of Israel.

So maybe you have been out searching for lost donkey’s and you do not know where to go next to look for them.  In other words searching for your purpose in life. Here are some things to think about from this story:

  1. Don’t be discouraged because God often works that way.  He sends us off looking for donkey’s and we end up finding God in unexpected ways.
  2. When the timing is right God reveals to us what we need to know for the next leg of our journey.
  3. Sometimes you need to walk through an unexpected door to end up finding the right door.
  4. Sometimes we need to go to a godly person for advice on what to do next.  God most often speaks through people like He did with Samuel.
  5. Sometimes God has an unexpected blessing, message or purpose He wants to give us, but only after searching for missing donkey’s.
  6. Listen carefully and be sure to pray and ask God for wisdom and discernment to know what is from Him and what is not.
  7. Then have the courage to take those next steps that have been laid out for you.

 

 

5 Principles For Dealing With Change

Things around us are always changing.  Think about your job and the number of changes that have happened in the last 3 months.  How about the stores that you like to shop at or the restaurants that you enjoy eating at.  Even the roads that we drive on are changing.  I’ve hit a few huge potholes lately!  In all these areas, things are either changing for the better or the worse.  Things are either deteriorating or being improved.

One area that is in constant change is the people around us and relationships we have.  People are constantly changing, lets face it we are emotional beings and so there are lots of ups and downs for all of us.  People are complicated and difficult, and yet we need people and relationships in our lives in order to thrive.

So when it comes to all this change around us how do you not get totally stressed out and just give up.

I’d like to give you five simple principles that can help you navigate the changes going on in your life or to help create positive changes in your life.

  1. Control the Controllable – Most of things around us, and all of the people around us are out of our control.  If we do try to control the things or people around us we add additional stress to everyone’s lives.  This principle brings the focus back to us and what we need to do, and what we can control.  We can control what we say; what we do; what we focus on; who we listen to; what we study; what we learn; what boundaries we set; what we spend and where we spend it.  We control what and when we eat, how much sleep we get and the amount of exercise we get.  The choices and decisions we make are within our control.  What other people say or do is out of our control, but we are in control of how we respond.
  2. Monitor the Conversations in Your Head – We talk to ourselves more than anyone else.  Those conversations are what I like to call narratives or stories that get replayed over and over again.  Our internal conversations come from past experiences, things we have learned or picked up along the the way.  For many people those conversations or stories are not as positive as they should be.  Those conversations with ourselves lead to decisions, choices, words spoken and outward behavior whether good or bad.  So start being more aware of what you are telling yourself.  Start to question if it’s really true, maybe you are believing a lie or deceiving yourself.  Maybe you need to start a new story.
  3. Ask Questions & Ask for Help – If you don’t understand something or someone it’s always a good practice to ask questions with the intent of wanting to understand.  What goes right along with this is to listen well.  When you ask good questions and then listen intently you can avoid a lot of misunderstandings and mistakes.  A great practice is to repeat back to the person what you heard them say.  Ask clarifying questions if you need to.  Fear keeps us from asking questions or asking for help.  When you are struggling in any area of life it is wise to ask for help.  There are other people that have gone through what you are going through or have helped others with similar things.  So ask honest, sincere questions to help you fully understand what the other person is saying or asking you to do.  Also ask for help if you don’t know how to do something or you are stuck in an area of your life.
  4. Keep Growing – The books you read and the people you meet will determine the kind of life you will have.  The people that are constantly growing, learning and interacting with other people have the most influence in this world.  Put a plan together of what books you want to read and the people you want to meet or reconnect with.  Make sure you are growing intellectually, relationally, emotionally, and spiritually.
  5. Make Your Faith a Priority – The one thing that I believes helps us the most when it comes to handling change is faith.  The Christian faith has been what has guided me for most of my life.  Learning from Jesus Christ has been the biggest help in making good decisions, handling stress and change, and dealing with all the relationships in my life.  Make growing in your faith a high priority and many of these other things will fall into place.

Doing these five things will bring your stress level down, improve your work and relationships and bring more contentment and joy to your life.  Life will never be perfect, but it can be better.

Seven Fundamental Behaviors of Successful Leaders

If you are leading a company, a department, a team or a family you know that leadership is challenging.  The key in leadership is that you are growing learning and getting better.  If your not growing you are going backwards.

As a leader there are some key responsibilities and behaviors that are extremely important to long term success.  Here are seven fundamental behaviors that will set you up for success.

  1. Set and Achieve goals – People that take the time to map out an action plan do much better than those that don’t.  Writing down your most important objectives and then listing specific goals to meet that objective is a fundamental leadership behavior.  It’s not only setting goals but it’s also achieving them which means you must act on those goals.  That’s why it’s important to also set up deadlines and have accountability.  Set goals review them regularly and do a progress report every week on how you did last week.
  2. Continually Innovate and Improve – Another key behavior of successful leaders is that they are always exploring and thinking about how to improve on the current way of doing things.  This is a mindset of continuous improvement.  How can we be more efficient?  How can we streamline and improve systems?  Asking those how questions keeps your organization moving forward.  I like to say: what can we improve by 1% this week.  If this is part of your culture then you should be getting lots of ideas and feedback form your team.  Listen, discuss and let the best ideas rise to the top and then make those changes.
  3. Solve Problems and Make Decisions – Every unachieved goal is a problem waiting to be solved.  This is how things get done and keep moving forward.  You don’t want to be the bottle neck on your team.  That is why you can’t be the only one solving problems and making decisions.  Teaching and empowering your team is a key leadership behavior that can accelerate your companies growth and productivity.  Leaders are problem solvers not just problem identifiers.  Define the problem, identify possible solutions, get some feedback and then make a decision and assign it to someone with a deadline.
  4. Take Full Responsibility – A leader takes full responsibility for the their decisions and the success and failure of their team.  As the leader you are ultimately responsible for everything that happens in your company, department, team or family.  That can be scary but you can’t lead well if your afraid to take responsibility.  Facing your fears and owning mistakes brings credibility and trust to your leadership.
  5. Be a Good Example or Role Model for Others – This is all about character.  Do your actions and your words line up.  Are you doing the things you want your team to do?  Are you treating people the way you want to be treated?  Are you making the difficult decisions and having the difficult conversations?  Are you quick to admit a mistake?  As a leader people are always watching you.  No one is perfect so leading with integrity is not about being perfect it’s about being honest and vulnerable.  If you’re a mess then your team will be a mess.
  6. Persuade and Inspire – A key behavior of successful leaders is the ability to persuade people to buy in to your vision.  That takes a combination of good communication, being intentional and repetition.  When people trust you and you can clearly articulate the vision you can keep moving in the right direction.  Inspiration comes when people have bought into you as the leader and understand the vision and their part in achieving that vision.  This also takes self-confidence and believing in the vision and values you have and the message you are trying to communicate.
  7. Get Results and Don’t make Excuses – If you’re not getting results then you are probably not doing the right things or focused on the right things.  When the results are not there you don’t make excuses, you look at what is not working and make the adjustment.  You admit mistakes and take responsibility.

There is much more to leadership than just these seven things but these are some of the basics that will set you up for success.  Again, the key is that you are growing, learning and changing as a leader.

If your feeling stuck as a leader or organization send me an email and let’s set up a time to discuss next steps in getting unstuck.  Email – castutzman@gmail.com

 

 

How Bold Are You?

“Our difficulties and dangers will not be removed by closing our eyes to them.”  Winston Churchill

I recently watched the movie Darkest Hour the story about Winston Churchill.  It tells the story of the beginning of World War 2 and how Churchill rose to leadership and how he provided leadership at that critical time in history.

I also have recently read the story of Patrick Henry and his part in moving our country to become independent and free.

Both of those men had a character quality that helped them to lead in critical, difficult times.  It was boldness.  The definition of boldness is “Confidence and courage to do what is right regardless of the circumstances or others’ opinions.”

Winston Churchill was willing to take great risks and even fail because he believed he was doing what was right and best for his country.  Many people around him criticized and questioned most of his decisions, yet he continued to stay the course and boldly stand firm.  There were moments of questioning himself and dealing with fear directly.  However, he did not allow the fear to paralyze him, he talked to different people to get new perspectives when his inner circle began to crumble.

Patrick Henry also showed great boldness as one of the first people to openly speak out against England and the oppression they were imposing on the colonies.  His steadfast boldness encouraged many others to also stand firm in the face of fear.

Here are some key lessons we can learn from Winston Churchill and Patrick Henry about boldness:

  1. Boldness helps you communicate your message more effectively – Appropriate boldness brings power to your message.  Sharing your message with confidence and passion gets peoples attention.  Bold people speak up when asked to give their opinion, because they have thought deeply about the issue at hand and are clear about what is right and best for the organization or country.  Even if they are not completely clear on how to gt there, they are willing to take risks to make progress and get the right things done.
  2. Boldness will improve your relationships – People that are not afraid to have the hard conversations in life have some of the healthiest relationships.  They keep short accounts and resolve issues.  Other people like being around people that are confident and value living and influencing over simply existing and staying in their comfort zones.  Appropriate boldness requires having composure and intentionally working on relationships before they get worse.
  3. Bold people are often criticized – If you are bold and passionate about something you will most likely get criticized and even ridiculed.  True boldness gets you through those low times of rejection and failure.  You are not a great leader if you have never been criticized, questioned and ridiculed.  Boldness keeps you pressing forward.
  4. Boldness takes a positive outlook on life – Bold people think positive and believe the best.  Nothing kills boldness faster than a pessimistic outlook or negative thinking.  If you focus on what could go wrong your boldness dwindles but when you focus on what can go right your boldness grows.
  5. God raises up and uses bold people – When you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ you have access to incredible power.  God’s spirit lives in you and empowers you to be bold for Him.  The stronger your faith in God grows the bolder you become.  2 Timothy 1:7 says “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, and of love and of sound judgement.”

When a person is not bold they often miss opportunities to influence and make a difference.  Of course you can be bold for wrong reasons and sometimes people will be more of a bully than a bold person.  Character matters when it comes to being bold.  Sometimes the most bold thing you can do is not fight back but forgive and love.  Stand up for what is right and good and protect the weak and oppressed.  Be bold about things that make the world a better place and serve other people, that’s appropriate boldness.

Next Step:

Boldness is one of 48 principles that Lodestar Guidance teaches.  Each principle has a short video and a bulletin that walks you through the keys to improving that quality in your life.  It’s a great way to build a culture that is healthy and thriving.  If you would like more information about Lodestar or leadership development email me at castutzman@gmail.com