I can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I last sat down to write. In reality it’s because I was giving all my extra energy and brain power to hosting an IF:Local with my friends at our church two weeks ago and then spent a week recovering. I love the mission of IF Gathering. It combines 3 of my favorite things: 1) the hope of the Gospel 2) authentic community with other women 3) equipping and empowering women to discover their God-given purpose.
I have a long history of working with other women– coaching, teaching in the classroom and now “moming” with other moms. This time around I was working with friends in ministry, which means I was volunteering and it was close to my heart.
After it was all said and done, we agreed it was so good, so hard and so worth it. I wanted to share because writing helps me process and also, you might be able to relate in your own lives. My hope is to encourage you to keep leading.
Here’s what I learned and why I’d do it again.
1. It’s not what you accomplish, it’s how.
This was the first guideline of IF’s Leader Guide. And it was a game-changer for me. In my past, when given a task, the world has told me to…
meet the goal
be the best.
But in asking me to focus more on process than results, I moved towards caring more about the people than the outcome. I had to put loving my friends and the people we served as the first priority. Putting relationships first sounds a lot like Jesus’ command to love each other because God first loved us.
Jesus was constantly stopping to lift the chins of the downtrodden, to heal, to sit and share a meal. His mission could not be completed outside of relationships and loving others. But man was it hard to go against the grain of my ego and pride constantly wanting to succeed.
So, this time around I did my best to follow this counter-cultural guideline. The task of putting on the event needed to take place within the context of loving others, not outside of it. For me, this meant I tried to be careful with my words. I went to bed with half my to-do list done because I took the time to pick up the phone and check on people’s hearts and ask their opinions. I decided to ask and then listen instead of move forward and then tell because our accomplishments become meaningless without love.
Less efficient? Yes.
But I also ended the weekend event closer to my friends than when I started. Some of that was through fun times and some through seeing each others vulnerability, tears and worries and listening.
2. Know your lane.
Mother Teresa said, “You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things.”
It’s important to know who does what so everyone has a clear lane. Simply stated – delegating.
In reflecting, I found I delegated for the most part. But more often than I liked, I waited for people to volunteer and then glossed over the details. Or I just trusted everything would ultimately get done because we are all high-functioning women.
Why was I afraid of direct questions?
Questions like “would you take the lead on this?” “And if so, this role includes this, this & this.”
In hindsight, I see that I was afraid to put work on my friends. We were all volunteers so I didn’t want to bog them down with lots of little tasks. But that was silly because a question allows for a yes or no response. It doesn’t lock somebody in and details help make roles clear. Also, in waiting for people to volunteer, I assumed they knew all the outstanding tasks.
In assuming and waiting it got messy; three of us ended up trying to run the technology and tripping over each other. Three of us served and cleared food, a task one of us could have easily handled. Two of us tried to confirm facility/technology questions with the church staff and so we doubled dipped in the same task. And I’m certain there was more.
I learned that being direct up front saves mess later.
Now there is no way to foresee every role and/or conflict and now with one event under our belt, it’s much more clear what tasks need to be completed and therefore delegated. I now see that I don’t need to be afraid to ask or even worse assume.
I can trust my friends to accept or decline a task and then run in the lane they have chosen.
3. Stop competing and start celebrating.
I decided to celebrate our differences instead of feeling threatened by them. I have really tried not to settle for sameness in my own life, and I tried to carry it over to the event.
Though I found I could improve on delegating tasks, I was grateful what we did divide up. We have a friend who loves the behind the scenes details, one with a knack for gift bags and decorations and my other friend is a great public speaker.
Thank goodness they all offered to take on these roles, because otherwise all the attendees would be sitting on yoga mats, with paper cups of lukewarm coffee from a Starbucks boxed carrier, eating a packed lunch and using a pencil I found in my car. I just couldn’t do it.
But joking aside, sometimes it was hard to see my friends approach a task or execute something differently than I would have. Did I mention I’m a recovering control freak? So I learned that celebrating is not a singular choice but an awareness.
An awareness that hmmm, she did that differently, or thought through that differently and it still worked!
All our differences allowed us to put on an event that from my singular perspective looked daunting. I gotta say, celebrating changed my heart from the hardened “ I have to be the best and prove my worth” place to “soft, joyful and proud of my friends.”
Lessons 4 & 5 coming at you next week….
Until then, is there someone you could celebrate today? I invite you to try it on. See how it fits.