Archive for the ‘leadership’ Category

I could hear him, just outside my office window, talking loudly to someone in the church parking lot as the Narcotics Anonymous group was letting out.

“Hey, you can talk to Pastor Randy!”

He continued, “Really man, you can talk to him. He is a normal person, just like us.”

I laughed. To me it was a compliment of the highest order. I am a normal person.

We educated, professional muckety-mucks. We stage-loving, microphone-hugging, hyper attentive, drive-to-the-top-of-the-mountain spiritual maniacs. The truth is that we are just like them, like everyone!

Some of my pastoral colleagues aspire to be prophets, some to be great speakers, some to be great reformers, some to be miracle workers, some to be powerful leaders of large organizations. I get this. Good for them.

I aspire to many things too, always have, always will. I hope for much, but the reality is that I have everything in common with the members of the AA Group that meets at the church I help lead.

I have never had a life-ruining addiction, but I am one of them, like them, normal, just another person trying to figure out life. Like them, I have been though stuff, been weak, gotten better, dealt with my issues, found out that I am tough. I too am in recovery — from myself.

It’s fine to aspire to much, but know this: None of us will ever rise above — the rest of us. We are all wonderfully, similarly human.

It’s complicated; it’s not.

These days a lot of us live complicated lives; we put a lot on the to-do plate.

Currently at the nonprofit I lead I am overseeing a fund drive for the construction of a courtyard, leading a water saving measure that taps into a California State trust fund, managing an electricity-saving project that exchanges the fluorescent at our site for LED lighting. In addition, our nonprofit recently rolled out a name change, managing all the politics, costs and relational subtleties that required.

Besides that there is my speaking schedule, my meeting schedule, the overseeing of staff and the overseeing of myself. In addition there is the good, the relational, the everyday personal, the loving of my sweet wife, the relating to my adorable daughters, the cats, the bills, the vacuuming and the toilets — they need to be cleaned.

How to stay sane? That is the question, especially smack in the middle of the visionary-mundane, the unfinished, uncertain and unexpected.

A couple of ideas come to mind.

Compartmentalize the projects. Work on something, then leave it, completely — out of sight out of mind — and don’t let it eat at you until you block out a time to work on it again.

Create processes and timelines that are realistic. Decide: these are the steps we must take, these are the processes we will use, this is a realistic time frame in which to accomplish this objective — then add three months to that.

Ask for help. To live a complicated life, to be a high-energy person, to be a high-output person — this requires comrades, friends, teams, a group of leaders and collaboration. Nothing great ever gets accomplished alone.

These approaches aren’t clean, perfect, categorical solutions to the challenges of a complicated life.

Of course we can’t forget that snarly problem and of course the solution will come to us in the shower. Of course we won’t anticipate all the obstacles. and of course our timeline and processes will need revisions. And of course we will sometime do something we should have asked someone else to do.

But to live well while accomplishing a lot, to keep from dying of stress in a high-stress lifestyle, do these things: Create boundaries, lay plans, don’t go it alone.

It’s not that complicated.

When I got up this morning, I went outside. It was still dark. Venus glowed in the east. It was cool; the sky was blue-black, with a slight lightening in the east where the earth turned toward the sun.

Looking at Venus, I thought of Jesus, who has been called the bright morning star. I paused, refreshed, not alone, enmeshed in Christianity, in an kind of metaphoric, historical, institutionalized beauty.

I came back in the house and sat and talked to my wife. When we talk, we  usually connect, very smoothly, very deeply, very satisfyingly. My identity and her’s merge, we easily understand each other’s abreviations, the rhetoric of love, our freshly invented eloquences. With these we work out the subliminal deep structure of our relationship, the one that exists within the institution of marriage.

Later in the morning, I drove into work, opened the door to my office, and walked into a third institution.

My office manager came to work too. We are both well-individuated, but as we talked, worked out the plan for the day, sampled the pastry we would later serve to guests, laughed at ourselves, played our separate roles, made progress, we became a useful institutional team.

What is my life? It is a life of living and moving and having my being within institutions.

What are institutions?

Institutions are not places, they are not buildings. Institutions are the rules that structure the interactions we have with the people we know.  Institutions define the way we relate.

The national government, our church, our marriage, our school system, our economic system, even our language — all are institutions, that is, all structure rules for our relationships.

A woman told me last week that our church hurt her feelings.

I apologized. I hated that she was hurt. The protocol, the unwritten rules, the tendancy of a church to favor certain people — the unexamined structure of our interactions — these can damage. Institutions can brutalize people.

I have been harmed by institutions. You probably have too. But we have also been helped by them — medicine, art, family.

What can we do to make our institutions healthy, even good?

First, in institutions, make exceptions, regarding the rules.

Once a person didn’t meet a requriement of our church for leadership. In this case, we overlooked that one institutional requirement. We kept the requirement in general —  it’s a good one — but we made an exception in this one case. It wasn’t a slippery slope. It was just plain smart, right, fair. And it worked well. The person has proven to be an excellent leader.

This is one way we kept our institution from harming the individual — we value the individual more than the general rule.

What else can be done?

We can keep changing. A healthy person keeps changing.  Healthy institutions also keep changing. They change the rules, to address problems, to find creative solutions.

Our church is currently becoming more economically and racially diverse. So we are including more types of people in leadership. Women, ethnic minorities, young people, older people, introverts, highly spiritual people, practical ones too. We are opening the doors to a different look, to different kinds of relational structures. Some of the rules are changing, and so the institution is changing in a good way.

Today as I sat writing this in Starbucks — a major institution — two strangers got into a conversation about how to cool their houses in the current heat wave. One gave the other a new idea. This “third place” within our culture, this public office, creates a space for people to relate to each other in ways of their own choosing, and come to solutions of their own choosing.

The bottom line?

Love your institutions, use them to connect to others, to solve problems; make them work for you and others.

2011_0617Nicaragua0509“Would you be willing to help?” I asked her as we stood in the door together, framed in old oak.

Maria is Peruvian, from New York,  living here in California, away from home,  trying to make a go of it with her daughter and husband in a small apartment. San Diego, California is a foreign place to her, as it is to so many of its residents.

“Yes, I will, ” she said.

“You can think about it,” I hedged.

“No, I’ll do it,” Maria responded quickly.

“Great,” I said, “then will you go downstairs before you leave today and tell  Jeanie that you’ll be on her team?”  Maria left me, smiling, to tell her new team leader.

It was good, how she was so quickly willing, and it was good, because we needed her. We needed her to help us give more food away, because in our church, we are aiming for an outrageous generosity, and that takes a group. I gave her a hug. Love felt present.

I looked at her smiling face, more visible to me than only moments before, when she had been just another face among the 160 people in the room, one of many, sitting and watching. But now, standing in the doorway, there she was mattering. She was suddenly more included, and she was just perhaps,  becoming more Californian. Asking her to help — it seemed to make a bit of home for her here.

The ask, the response — it’s needed, by all of us, because we are too much alone, and because there is a huge amount to do when we set out to be generous, and because generosity is best done by a team. Every good NGO and every effective nonprofit knows that.

It has come to me of late, that asking is an art, unpracticed by many, and responding  is an art too, also largely neglected in its various subtly shaded nuances.

The art is in knowing who to ask for what, when and how.

It’s interesting, however, that asking and responding doesn’t always go well.

The very same day that Maria became a member of our food team, a homeless friend of mine came to the church and asked me for food.

I said to him, “I can’t help you right now; I’m meeting with someone.”  He took that well and went back to his car.

But then I saw that I had some home-baked cookies on my desk. At that moment, suddenly I felt like a bon vivant, expose for surfiet. I ran out to him, before he could drive away, and gave him the cookies. On his car seat was a powerbar, partially eaten. He look horrible. I felt badly for him. He was so broken, so irresponsible, so alone, so done.

I had told him only two days before, to come at noon for food that day, and that at that time he would get a really good bag of food from us, but he didn’t. Instead, he came on his own timetable, later, even though he has nothing to do, and it didn’t fit our schedule at all, and the best food was all already given away. It was also the case  that he has often ignored the opportunities to get food when we give it out, and then come late, asking just after we have finished our day’s effort.

So I said, “no,” and I felt okay about it.

Some people are in the habit of asking, too much,  at inappropriate times, for things they should be providing for themselves. My friend is one of those people.

It’s an art, asking, and an art too,  knowing when to say “no.”

I like asking people for things, and I like saying “no” when that’s the best response — for them. More asking is needed, to get more important things done, and more saying “no” is needed, to people who should be doing more for themselves.

Considering the issues our world faces, there is too much asking that is quite simply selfish, and there is not enough asking that is deeply rooted and nourished in love.

Our broken planet and our scattered people need massive amounts of help, but too many us are not taking the responsibility to do something or to ask others to. Why? So many reasons.  We ourselves are selfish, and we tend to our own affairs rather than others. And when we do serve others, some of us really prefer to work alone, or we say we do because it is “easier.”  It is not. There are other excuses.  We say, “people are busy,” and that “We don’t want to burden them,”  and they are, but it is often doing a bunch of things less important than helping others.  And, we are afraid to ask people to help, because we are afraid of being told, “No, I can’t,” with perhaps the implication, “You are making things so awkward by asking.”

None of that is really it.

The real hold back is that we don’t have enough love in us. It is not selfishness that holds us back, as we might first expect, or fear, or awkwardness.  It is love, a missing love that holds us back, because if we store up enough love inside of us, that love will totally suffocate and annihilate selfishness and fear.

The world clearly lacks love’s driving passion, love’s “ask,”  love’s intrinsic leadership, love’s deep desire to make a place for people to belong and to have what they need. There are so many things that need to be done, like feeding people who don’t have enough to eat, but so often, most of us don’t really believe in the importance of such things. We can tell because we are doing nothing to help, or to ask others to help.

We ignore the things that most need doing, things like valuing children, like healing our earth,  like protecting people from violence,  like being there for the victims of sexual abuse,  like making sure kids grow up with a chance to learn, like mentoring a young person,  like helping someone who is marginalized find a new place to belong.

Something is missing in us, a passion to help is missing, and the courage to ask for help is missing, but gladly, it is something that we can change. We can make the choice to make important things matter. We can say “no” to lesser things. We can choose to love. Love is a choice that acted on, brings passion along with it, and it has a natural momentum that pulls others in,  and it is a choice we can make at any moment and in every moment of life. It is a choice to see, and to act, and to value others, to help them to stand out, from the room.

We can stand in a door, and we can see a person in front of us, really see them, see who they really are, and we can do something needed for us and for them.

Love, it’s good. Love see’s who’s there. Love is strong and powerful and much needed to fix what can be and  needs to be fixed.

Love, we need it more — it makes the ask.

Renewal is stubborn, especially at the fringes and edges and the corners of the former. Think of what it takes to restore a classic car or a classic church.

A while back, I was in room 5 at my church, which is a classic,  and there it was, where the tile met the wall —  clean! I remember when it wasn’t.

When I took the job as the pastor of the church four years ago, a nice herd of children attended the private, Christian preschool that operated there.  I loved coming to work to children.  I loved being surrounded by those precious, diminutive, destructive monsters. While I could see that they were vectors (the runny noses and coughs) and carried diseases, I’d had my shots and they were super cute and said funny stuff and gave me chances to tell stories and laugh and get hugs and comfort them when they cried for their mothers, which they did a lot, especially late in the day.

I tend to like the generic noises children make,  the hum that they collectively emanate, punctuated with the yelling, laughing and crying. I especially like it when I’m not immediately responsible for it.

But there was a problem with the school, and so we said a prayer over it — and buried it. It was a private day care operation that was leaking money in the recession, threatening the financial solvency of the church. It had been in existence for forty years. It had thrived, filled the patio with children, helped parents who were working, cared for the children of the church, but it was done, (no children from the church even attended anymore),  and so were we.

The church board discussed it, discussed it again, and again, made the decision, grieved the loss and let it go. We paid the director and the teachers severance and vacation pay, told the parents and children about why we were quitting and closed the doors — at Christmas — on a huge mess. Four big rooms and an office complex of mess.

The preschool classrooms hadn’t had an update in 20 years. They were full of over-painted children’s furniture — red and blue and white paint-encrusted wooden benches, bookshelves and cubes for backpacks. This inexpensive, even homemade furniture, was all paint-chipped, kid scratched and dirty. And so was the floor —  filthy.

We trashed, sold and gave away the school — except a few nice tables and chairs. We gutted the rooms. Huge truck loads went to other schools, and  to the dump. We sold a ton of stuff at a garage sale.  Through this we saw how it is at the end of the end of things institutional.  At the end of visions, dream and institutional successes is a junk yards and a dump. Dumps are full of the ends of schools and businesses and homes and lives. It’s sad, and it’s necessary, and it allows something new to begin.

Once the rooms were almost empty, we painted the walls, scraped paint off the windows,  and tackled the floors.  The floors were the worst. The piles of furniture, the weight of time, the tendency not to see the familiar, the lack of funds — all  this had left the floors layered with filth.

We removed the base boards, and we got on our knees at church, not to worship, but to clean, which is a form of worship, and with our heads bumping the walls, we confronted the spaces where the universes had overly accumulated. I remember it well. I remember the night we employed every means known to man and woman to scrub wax, grime, grit, gunk, hair, insect body parts, dust, paint and whatever disgusting residue human children leave behind them  —  off the floor.

We ran an old buffer with a massive yellow, electrical umbilical cord (we found it lurking in an old closet) over the floors, grinding away at the dirt embedded in the tile. The buffer was wild and could get away from you and clobber the wall,  or your leg, so we let one person run it while the rest stood back and laughed. Once I got on it and rode it, to increase its wieght, and another guy ran it on a spot that just wouldn’t come clean. It did. Then  we got out scrapers and razor blades and scrub pads and attacked the edges and corners. I remember telling the volunteer crew stuff like, “Let’s hit that spot again,” or “I want it better than that.” I remember being fanatical about getting the dirt up, even coming back on my own over the next few weeks with a razor blade, scraping yellow wax and brown grime.

Then I paid to have the carpeted areas cleaned, twice!


Last week I went into room 5 on a Wednesday evening. It is the church’s new vision, “The Connection,” a place for children and their parents to learn, to recover, to renew.  The room was full of children, so many they were spilling out the back door. Four or five adults hovered over them. There was a quiet hum of voices with a background track of sandpaper running over wood. The children, all who attend the church, were making pine box derby cars.

I walked toward the end of the room where we had attacked the tile floors. They shone. Curtains covered the beautifully clean windows at the end.  I looked back at the children and walked  back through them, just for fun. They showed me their cars. One gave me a hug. She always does. She’s my friend. She used to attend the preschool.

As I left for the evening, I glanced along the wall where we had confronted the most stubborn layers of dirt — good, clean, repurposed.

There is something about a vision, about a church,  about God, about an old room, about scraping up the past, about making a clean space for something new.

I like it; I like the good that exists at the scraped corners and at the clean edges of the present and the future.

“A strong man who has known power all his life may lose respect for that power, but a weak man knows the value of strength and knows, compassion.”

So says Dr. Abraham Erskines, the German defector who injects stength serum in the anemic, weakling Steve Rogers who is about to become Captain America. Steve is the right guy to get strength serum. He has the character to handle it.  Strong, he goes out saves America by sacrficing himself. Steve’s a good guy.

In Shakespeare’s “Measure For Measure,” on the day before Claudio’s scheduled execution, Isabella pleads with Angelo to spare her brother, but Angelo refuses mercy. Frustrated by his heavy-handedness, Isabella cries out:

O, it is excellent to have a giant’s strength, but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant.

Isabella could have used a Captain America before America but not, of course, not before captains or tyranny. She needed a gentle giant, an enlightened tyrannt, a man tempered by fire. She needed the man who had been weak so that he knew how to use a giants strength, not as a tyrannt.

Weak and strong, everyone of us knows some of both, and it is one of the neat tricks of life to know how to balance the two. Paul Tournier, the brilliant Swiss therapist and writer got at this quite nicely in his book The Weak and The Strong. Tournier points out that really, depite the way we present ourselves in public, all of us are both weak and strong, and that we need to stay informed by these two parts of us in order to live sensitively and wisely.

Strong and weak, we need to get used to both becauses both are on life’s docket for all of us, and getting this right could make the world a lot easier for those who have to live with us.

This morning I spoke to a friend whos was saying that his mom had deteriorated, mentally. She could remember some things perfectly from years ago but couldn’t remember something he had said to her only a few minutes before. Another friend, listening in said that she had visited a retirement home recently, checking on a place for her parents, and that it was a bit shocking to see professors, doctors and writers in the fascility who could barely function anymore. Their brains had worn out.

No shame in that.

It happens.

The strong will one day become the weak, and some who are weak today may well be strong tomorrow.

What to do?

Well, all of us might do well to work at staying humble, because we certainly are not, nor will we ever be, in control of all that comes to us. If weakness comes then we would do well to use that as portal through which we might gain a beautifully gentle perspective on the world. And we might stay hopeful too, that we will have an opportunity to use power for good, learning and doing good whether weak or strong.

Perhaps it would be healthy for many of us to allow ourselves to admit and experience our weaknesses more, particularly if we plan to go out and play at being Captain America tomorrow. Say that happens, say we become a kind of Captain America in the future.  If we stay in touch with our intrinsic weaknesses, then we will have the best chance to avoid becoming  tyrannts.

Another Paul, centuries ago, commenting on this weak and strong thing, got right to the issue.

“When I am weak then I am strong.”


The boys were throwing rocks.

One thrown rock ricocheted off the nearby trash can with  a clang and spun out over the road.

A flickering thought came to me, “This could be dangerous.’

I kept walking, and then I heard the cry, turned my head and saw the little girl crumpling into the dirt. I ran to her, and  picked her up.  Down her face ran a rivulet of blood, streaming from the gash in her forehead.

As I carried her down the road, looking for her parents, raw emotion ran over through me, “Why hadn’t I stopped the boys?’

I”m wasn’t exactly sure. “They weren’t my boys?”


Here is the way I am feeling lately; there isn’t enough leadership on the planet.

Think about it: Think about the Gaza.

Think of the number of homes being foreclosed in the US.

Think about the  BP oil disaster, BP’s response, the goverment’s response.

Think children, think the childification of poverty, the feminization of poverty.

Think about the needs in your work place, your church, your home, your community.

Think about the pain in your own family.

Most people I meet tell me, “I’m not a leader.”

I don’t buy it. It’s a con. It’s a ruse. It’s a dodge. 

A leader is anyone who sees what needs to be done and does it, who sees what needs to be said and says it, who knows what they failed to do and resolves never to do that again.

You’re not a leader?  Really now; give me a break!  Every time you open your mouth you lead! You are a model to someone.

Every time  you take action you are a leader, and every time you do not take action you are a leader too. You prevent or fail to prevent things, and you are an example.

I helped a homeless woman recently by giving her a safe place to nap, a phone to use to call for help. But I didn’t go to the second level and find her a place to live. I was leading, deciding how much I would lead, give, do, what I wouldn’t do.

I think that I am watching too much TV without doing anything about what I see on TV.

I think I am sitting too much at home when I should be over at my neighbor’s house helping.

I think I am sitting in church too much singing when the baby in the community is wailing!


I’m sick of it.

Rocks are flying.

Children are walking nearby.

Somebody lead.

Batman gets it right.  

Alan Grant, Scottish comic book writer, and author of Batman comics in the 1990’s says, “He (Batman) is perhaps the only genuine hero … People say Batman is this dark, vengeance-driven, obsessed character but that’s not Batman to my eyes. That’s just the fuel which drives Batman. The trauma of his parents’ death is what motivates him and forces him to go on, but what makes him Batman is a decision. He took a decision to be a good guy, which is a decision in life not too many people make. He is a self-made character. He didn’t get superpowers, he’s not a cyborg, he made a choice to be what he is. He is motivated by the terrible thing that happened to him when he was a kid, but that’s not the thing that defines his character. What defines his character is the decision to do something.”

And what Batman decides to do is important. He decides to become responsible to protect the people of Gotham City. It’s no easy task.

Gotham is a dark and foreboding metropolis rife with crime, corruption, and urban blight. It is particularly subject to political corruption. The very authorities appointed to guard it, exploit it. The commissioner and the police are often in collusion with the mob or with supervillians to gain more power.

It’s the comics, it’s a fiction; it’s real life; it’s our life.

Most of us live in cities or small towns.  Most of us have been through personal trauma. We eventually see and experience loss, anger, desires for revenge, horror over the evil in what should be our safe places. And most of us live close enough to corruption to note it. We see people caught in the grip of corruption. And then what do we do, with our hurt, with our city’s hurt? What decisions do we make about our cities?

I have sometimes made isolating and selfish decisions. I have chosen to be powerless. It’s not uncommon. It is practically de rigueur in many circles, the expected, acceptable, polite, normal response to do nothing about harm, to do practically nothing to protect anyone. 

How do we do that? We do that when we flee the dark side of our city, barricading ourselves in a  square pile of stuff that we call home. We do that when we reject the parts of the city or the world that we don’t want to see. We do that when we map our routes, our destinations and our vacations so that we don’t drive  or stop or make a place of renewal in the seamy side of Gotham.

Many of us do that; we decide that it isn’t our business, in a million different ways. But there is a better option. We can make the Batman choice. I think for Christians, for people of faith, for people with a conscience, this is the choice we should make. It is the choice to be good. It is the choice to train ourselves to fight evil. It is the choice to protect the people where we live. It is the choice to bring justice to Gotham.

More of us need to be Batman. We need to look at our city and say, “These are my people. I am responsible for the safety of each of them. I see their trouble. I take it into my own hands to fix it. I will protect my people.  That is what I do.”

We aren’t born to this. It is a choice. It is a choice to take responsiblity for our people. To do this we will have to rise up out of indifference and fear and say with anger and love and strength, ” I will now define myself by my decision to do something.”

Think about it.


 people who have played the role

Who Leads?

Posted: January 17, 2008 in leadership

Are you a leader? Most people probably think they aren’t, unless they have a title or a position. But leadership is not a title; leadership is an action.

 Whenever we solve a problem, adapt to a situation, make a choice, very often in that moment we are leading.

 I think a lot about leadership. More of it is needed in this screwy world.  A while back I noticed how much certain women that I know were charging ahead.

Take a look at the next article or two. What do you need to lead out in? Do the examples in these articles motivate you to step up? Let me know what you think.

Trail Blazers in Clogs

Posted: January 17, 2008 in leadership
Tags: , ,


Trail Blazers in Clogs

By Randy Hasper

I am impressed by nervy, risk-taking, trail-blazing women. They are the best  women I know. They do what they are inspired to do — now! They are the gutsy-obedient. They dress themselves in change. They may tremble, but even shaking in their clogs, they head out. Such women are my heroes. And the world needs more of them.


Chris is a trail blazer. She and her husband Steve met Tesia on a rocky path. It ran through the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) of a hospital. Chris was a young R.N. Tesia was a medically fragile five month old with paralyzed vocal cords and a tracheostomy.

Over the next several years, Tesia and Chris kept meeting in step-down ICU as Tesia returned there again and again in crisis. And they kept saying “goodbye” again and yet again as Tesia would leave to yet another foster family.Chris got pregnant. The way ahead for her family looked beautiful. And then she and Steve confronted their own crisis — Chris miscarried. Something precious was lost.

But something else was stirring inside of Steve and Chris. What if they adopted Tesia? Such a momentous decision! Tesia would need 16 hours of care a day. She would need an in-home nurse to live with the family. There would be a court case, years of doctors appointments, life on the edge.

“Right before we took her,” says Chris, “I thought, ‘What are we doing?'” Steve encouraged Chris to spend a weekend with her closest Christian friends to think about it. She talked; she prayed; she listened. “It boiled down to obedience and trust,” she now says. Chris became one of the gutsy-obedient. She doesn’t regret it. Neither does her daughter.

Tesia has much to be thankful for: not the least is a trail blazing mom.

Lee Ann

Lee Ann  is a trekker. A number of years ago, she was challenged to backpack her beliefs in doing good and carry them into the community. But, she wondered, what could she do? The answer wasn’t very far off.Lee Ann works in a local high school cafeteria. She knows food. It was there that a co-worker mentioned to her that another woman in the city was organizing an effort to feed people with inadequate resources. Lee Ann began thinking, “Why shouldn’t my church be involved reaching out to people who aren’t a part of us?” The questions that many of us tussle with but few of us answer, struggled for answers inside of her. Why don’t the well-provided for put out their hands to the poorly-provided for? Why don’t we get out of our comfort zone and do something?

But there was one small problem, noted Lee Ann. “I felt inadequate leading on my own. I told God, ‘I’m a good second person. Just don’t have me be the one to carry something out.'” But despite her fears, she forged ahead and brought the idea to feed people back to the church. Surprise! Others wanted to join her — Joyce, Carol, Agnes, Ruth and on and on. Lee Ann blazed a trail in her mind, and when she turned around there was a food army standing behind her.

That was ten years ago. Lee Ann’s leadership has inspired hundreds of people from her church to join her. Seniors, children, teens, whole families have handed thousands of plates of steaming homemade casseroles to the “least of these” in the community.

“Wow,” she muses now. “My idea was significant.” Wow, I think to myself,  Lee Ann is significant.”


“My big risk was feeling like I didn’t have what it would take,” says Lisa. “I had volunteered for years at my church, but I had never been a leader.” Then came an opportunity to join the staff. Lisa waited, prayed, agonized, and eventually turned in an application. Despite shaky sandals, she got the job — the church’s Director of Children’s Ministries.But this church was on the move, and Lisa was in for a real scramble. That was just fine.

As her level of responsibility rose to scary heights, so did her dependence on God. Children’s Choir, 35 little musical ones; Sunday school, 125 studious ones; Vacation Bible School, 175 wild ones; Fall Festival outreach to the community, 500 crazed, candy-fueled ones. Lisa grew with the new challenges — all five foot four of her seemed to stretch. “A lot of fear has left me,” says Lisa. As she was obedient, she grew psychologically bigger, spiritually stronger, and much more confident.

She booked nationally known puppeteers and musicians for children’s concerts. No sweat; they were huge successes. Christmas Craft day for children, winter camp for fifth and sixth graders, a concert for preschoolers, a service club for kids — Lisa was on a roll.

“This position made sense of my life,” she enthused. And Lisa made sense out of a lot of things for other people too.

Chris, Lee Ann, Lisa — they are the gutsy-obedient. They have in common a willingness to blaze a trail.

Inspired to act, they went ahead and moved their feet. They slogged over the hill in no more than their sandals or clogs and found God on the other side with boots just their size, ready to head up the wilderness trail with them.

I’m totally inspired by such women. Who’s next?