God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
He’s all I’ve got left. (Lamentations 3:22-24, The Message)
In western culture, January is celebrated for the opportunity to start anew. As the clock chimes 12:00 AM on the first day of the New Year, millions celebrate. Often we contemplate, “What do I need to do to make a positive change in the coming year?” We think, diet, exercise, personal growth, and self-improvement.
Our family often spends evenings with another family from our local church. We’ve been doing life together for well over a decade. Our youngest children—and our only sons—are classmates, small group ‘buds,’ and have been friends since diaperhood.
At our son’s request, it was a movie and pancake restaurant New Year’s Eve. We adults were relatively willing to accommodate their request as all our other children, all girls, were at various events with their peer groups.
Christian and Clay, the babies of our tribes both launching into their teen years, had The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and a tall stack of chocolate-chocolate chip pancakes on their agenda. Seeing that these moments will most likely lessen with driver’s licenses, more independence, and broader social circles, we were game for the evening—and quite honestly, I thought to myself, “If the movie’s boring, I can always doze off.”
Tired moms, can I get a witness?
When we wrote Real Women Leading: With Proverbs 31 Values, my co-author Dawn and I wanted to be sure to communicate the value that understanding people is to the hearts of those we influence, both at home and in the marketplace. It’s a value we’re wise to embrace.
Without being a spoiler, if you’ve not viewed the new theatrical version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, it’s a reminder that we all have dreams. It’s also a reminder that many people fail to pursue their dreams because leaders are sometimes so project-driven that they miss the forest for the trees. Leaders can appear to be (and unfortunately many are) so self-absorbed and goal-orientated that they don’t listen to or understand their team. They don’t validate the dreams that God’s placed within their hearts—at home, at work, or at church—or anywhere.
Real leaders not only see the forest, they can also lead their tribe through the wilderness at times, and with God’s help and favor, into a Promised Land experience. And guess what? Leaders have the privilege of experiencing that with those they lead. It’s the ultimate win/win.
Those who lead with the values of our friend in Proverbs 31 lay hold of the reality that one of our greatest opportunities for influence comes from understanding people. That means listening first and understanding what God is speaking—God, the author of leadership. It means listening to verbal and non-verbal communication.
You might ask, “Where does it say that?” Do you think that our Proverbs 31 woman would be able to organize her “employees” if she wasn’t understanding the needs of her household? Do you believe she would be a successful real estate investor if she didn’t understand how to approach the landowner? Can you imagine that her husband and children would “rise up and call her blessed” if she wasn’t able to connect with them emotionally . . . if she wasn’t able to understand the importance of the dreams that God planted deep within their hearts?
Spending New Year’s Eve with my son Christian was an incredible blessing in more ways than one.
As much as I would have preferred a quiet evening at home, Bob and I both had that “check” that it was appropriate to ask Christian if he wanted to spend an evening out with Clay. Christian isn’t by nature one who seeks out a lot of extra social interaction, and we both felt that if he was interested in going out for the evening, we’d need to avail that opportunity.
Christian had a wonderful evening. Christian and Clay laughed together, ate together, and had a stellar evening, popcorn and all.
For me personally, God spoke to me through the storyline of the film. I listened with my ears, my eyes, and my heart to the biblical application of an incredible watershed of what would be faith becoming sight.
I really don’t know who enjoyed the evening more—Christian, as he spent a great evening with a lifelong friend, or me—as God was speaking His heart to me, and priming my ears by leading me to listen to my child. Giving me permission to dream and tell Him about it.
It was the most incredible way to launch into a new year, an IT Factor moment for me. As you read Real Women Leading, you’ll discover that IT Factor means Igniting Transformation. At the end of each chapter, we lead you into the practical steps of introducing the transformational values into daily life. Knowledge without application is useless.
My epiphany, the manifestation of God, during this season came on December 31, 2013, in a movie theater in Ohio. I kept listening, and God shared even more of His heart throughout the entire evening. It was amazing. By His Spirit, I was able to understand my child and understand myself better than before.
Lead well wherever God has placed you in 2014.