Leading Happy

Where Leadership and Happiness Collide

Month: November 2016

Tools for Tough Times!



As leaders most of us will become close friends with stress in some form or another. We often experience pressures from internal and external sources surrounding our roles and responsibilities.  The internal stress usually revolves around insecurities, fear of failure, unhealthy comparisons, or even pride at times.  External pressure can come because of extra work demands or unreasonable expectations and needs of team members.  All good leaders care about these things; some of us struggle under the weight of our roles and that can start to push in on who we are at our core, not just who we are as leaders.  Over the last 13 years of leading in a church context I have found four helpful ways to keep hold of my authentic self, balance the demands of external pressures and fight the internal whispers that keep us up at night.

  1. Dynamic Prayer life
  2. Friends who do the same thing as you
  3. Leadership Coaches
  4. Counseling

Dynamic Prayer life

First and foremost, prayer and all that goes into building a personal, growing, and authentic relationship with God has become a key to me keeping my head above water in times of stress or pressure.  I don’t say this as a pithy Sunday-school answer. Prayer, meditation and scripture reading serves us, in that it focuses our attention away from ourselves and onto Christ our Creator and Savior. I have seen over and over again that when stress and pressure starts to swell over my head, I have most likely started to abandon my abiding time with God.  I may have started skipping my morning liturgy or tried to use the study I’m doing for this week’s sermon as “devotional” time as well.  In these times it is so important to refocus and shift my perspective from all MY struggles onto God’s greatness and goodness, which brings peace to overworked minds and stressed out hearts.

 Friends who do the same thing as you

There’s nothing quite as comforting, even for those of us who are introverts, as looking someone in the eye and not having to explain the pastor thing to them.  Maybe for you it’s not pastoring. Maybe you lead a non-profit or a business yet this suggestion on how to stay healthy in leadership is still relevant to you.  Find people who get it. Who either, have been or are leading in the similar areas to you.

As a lead pastor, I have some unique situations that arise and I find it extremely comforting to text or call a friend who is a pastor as well. Someone I know will not judge me or shame me but will listen and say those words we all long to hear “I totally get it.”  It’s a gift that cannot be replicated by someone who has not done what you do.  So give yourself the gift of a friend or two who share your vocation, people who understand the challenges and know how to celebrate the wins with you.   They don’t have to live in the same city as you; technology is great for connecting us over long distances. Who knows? One day they may need you to say, “I get it,” and you will get it!

 Leadership Coaches

Leaders are capable of leading well only if they are ahead of their followers.  In other words, leaders must be continually learning and growing.  One of the resources I have found to be helpful in my leadership journey has been hiring a leadership coach.  My coach knows his stuff. He’s qualified to ask great forward thinking questions, offers resources and challenges me in the places where I have let complacency or fear rule instead of courage.  The beauty of coaching is that it revolves around the challenges I identify as my own and the goal is that I will find solutions that are practical and achievable. It’s not meant to delve into the past or even the present problems, but to help you think clearly about where you are currently and where you want to go. Coaching sets you on a course to follow the purpose for your life and make choices to grow into your future leadership.


All of us, but specifically leaders who are in helping roles, will face loss, trauma and grief at some point in our lives.  We’ll react in ways that we don’t understand, be present for others during traumatic events and we may even struggle with our own demons.  No matter if we are the experts in our field there will be places in relationships where we need help.  Our spouses, our families and possibly our own issues with control, dependence or addiction need to be addressed if we are to be healthy, flourishing human beings.

This is why we need professional counselors.  To walk us through all the stuff that comes at us. As leaders we need safe, confidential, educated people to help us.  Counseling saved my life at a time when I was desperate for a place where I didn’t have to be “on” all the time. Counselors want only the best for you and will not take from you, as others often do.

Are you using tools like these to help you prepare for and weather the hard times? If not, what is holding you back? Are there other tools and approaches you find helpful? Whatever help you have in place, don’t be afraid to lean on it. They might just save you when nothing else can.

1973901_10152950229189523_1668957572110615096_o-200x300Korista Lewis-Beaty is one of five amazing ladies who regularly blog at www.thepreachergirls.com. Korista and her husband, Ryan, are church planters in Houston. If you enjoyed this blog post, find out more about Korista and her leadership here!


Pithy Sayings, Major Changes


I have yet to meet anyone who doesn’t have some desire to do or be better at something. When it comes to betterment, habits come into play. Whether you are shooting basket after basket or chip shot after chipshot or writing, writing, editing, and writing some more, doing something over and over till it becomes habitual is the most effective way to sustainable change. Some scientists say it takes 21 days while others prove it takes over 50 days, but both agree it takes a lengthy time commitment. Here is where M. J. Ryan’s Habit Changers becomes advantageous.

Her book is divided into sections with an alphabetic order from A to W, with topics from Acceptance, Change, Happiness, Perfectionism, Risk Taking, and Worry. (You can tell what captures my attention easily.) Within the A through W divisions, are easy to remember or memorize matras. I will list a few that have already helped me on my quest to grow into the Me I Want to Be!

Acceptance – “This Person is My Teacher”

I needed this in my life because I often come across others who think they can do it better, think charity work is wrong, or cannot believe I would waste my time preaching and teaching the Bible. We will have enemies. We will have others who disagree. We will have confrontations. The key to remember from this idea is that we can learn from anyone. It’s about us and our response, not the other person who we cannot control.

Change – “Build a Bridge to the Future on the Pillars of the Past”

Ryan explains that often when we are ready fro change we feel as if we are standing on one side of the Grand Canyon trying to figure out how to get to the other side. This is when you need to realize that to get to your desired future you build on your learned past strengths one pillar at a time. for me, what I learned working for Staples for years, honing my skills at customer service, actually propelled me ahead of the rest when I went into full time ministry designing welcome points and processes for churches making them more guest friendly. At first, I wondered how my years at Staples would help me be a man of the cloth, so to speak, and yet it was the defining feature that set me above the rest in an area that now is common in churches, although a decade ago, was not.

Happiness – “Change it, Leave it, or Accept it”

When I get fixated on a change I want to make in my life or leadership, I tend to fuss about it till others around me are quietly thinking, “Get on with it then!” Okay, maybe not so quietly. But we all find ourselves there from time to time. To truly be happy, we need to examine our life and decide when we want to change something, when its time to move on, and when we simply need to accept – it is what it is. As she writes in the book, “Acceptance is an act of surrender, the opposite of effort.” When you have truly placed positive effort towards something for a certain length of time with little to no results, acceptance may be the key to your eventual happiness.

Perfectionism – “Feed Forward, Not Back”

Building off the coined term “feed forward” from executive leadership coach and author Marshall Goldsmith, dealing with feedback only is dealing with the past. If it was a past failure, you are reliving it only to fail again, if only in the mind. It’s a no win. But “feed forward” is when you take a failure, realize you are not perfect, and create a path of success built on past failure. We cannot correct the past but we can course correct for the future!

Worry – “Outsource Your Worry”

This has nothing to do with finding someone else to worry for you. That doesn’t help anyone. The concept has to do with taking the things that worry you and finding someone who potentially excels at them or at least can help you move through them and therefore avoid the internal struggle of worry. Ryan explains when we worry we can get stuck in a cycle. When you feel worry, or the spinning coming on, Outsourcing Your Worry, reminds you to reach out and get help. For me, it was about knowing when to take something to the team and not play it so close to the chest. Can it make you look weak? Possibly. Does worry make you look strong? Absolutely not! You never know, you team or friend or whoever you reach out to may have a new found respect for your authenticity.

I give this book 5-stars because I feel like the author, an internationally recognized female leader and executive coach, has zoned in on and simplified a book of resonating truths for anyone to grasp. It’s like having a personal coach to tote around in your backpack or set next to your desk. Further, instead of being a one-time read, it’s a leadership reference to go back to on a weekly basis.

I highly recommend this to those in leadership positions of any kind. If I was to focus on a few types, I would say women in leadership, human resources and development, consultants, and life coaches. I believe the world needs more solid, thriving women leaders and M.J. Ryan will inspire ladies to see if she can do it, so can you! Those in development roles are always looking for books full of pithy teaching principles and this book does not disappoint. Even if you used one phrase at a time for a meeting or staff training, you can literally go for a almost two years! Finally, Consultants and coaches are those who are leading other leaders, and these types need to stay ahead of the leadership curve and be ready with solid advice. Again, Habit Changers doesn’t disappoint, especially as it accesses dozens of other leadership resources and already drills them down into bite-sized principles for the busy leader.

Whether you need a morning jolt of leadership with your morning caffeination or find yourself up against a wall and needing some inspiration, Habit Changers is a book that will keep on giving the gift of leadership for years to come!

Ryan, M. J. Habit Changers: 81 Game-Changing Mantras to Mindfully Realize Your Goals. New York: Crown Business, 2016. 240pp. $22.00.

The Cause Within You: A Short Review


Barnett, Matthew. The Cause within You: Finding the One Great Thing You Were Created to Do in This World. Carol Stream: Tyndale, 2011. 240pp. $14.99.

I am probably a bit biased here, but I have known and have had the privilege of being around Matthew Barnett and doing mission’s work at the LA Dream Center for many years now. If you have ever been around Matthew you know it can be an intoxicating experience of cause-drivenness and passion for the least of these all wrapped up int a fireball of a guy! He truly is the Master of Misfits and the Champion of Causes in this generation. Just knowing him has made me more aware of Jesus calling us to serve the least of these, the forgotten, the hurting, the destitute, and poor, tired, and the hungry.

In The Cause within You, Barnett urges readers to see that God creates us to do great things for his name and his kingdom. By sharing his story in the beginning and weaving it in and out of the rest of the chapters, he leads a reader through an inspirational ride of Scripture, reflection, and challenges that will move the reader from passive pew sitter to passionate pursuer of God dreams! Matthew urges readers that if God can use him in great ways, he can use anyone he chooses. It simply takes faith, and truly that is the crux. Faith inside a person may drive their thinking and activities, but the one’s looking at the faithful from the outside think they have gone crazy.

Well, maybe it does take a bit of craziness to do big God-sized things. Click To Tweet

Just saying. 🙂

The chapters are each written in a manner that will help you process living out a God-sized cause. This type of cause is more than a vocation or occupation. It drives you to get out of bed early and go to bed late…and do it over and over again. You will have to stand up to persecution and pushback, sometimes even from close friends and the hardest of all – family. Through all of this attitude is everything. How you talk to those who follow you, those who persecute you, those you serve, and those you wish to impact matters more than any other single trait. Maxwell once said attitude is everything to the successful, and Matthew Barnett is proof in the pudding! His dream was not an easy road, but the right attitude helped him navigate the straightaways, curves, and potholes that derail too many dreams.

All great dreams need great teams. Click To Tweet

The LA Dream Center and all it took to get there and now to run the multitude of programs and outreaches is all team based. Your cause may start in your heart but it must begin to burn in others too. Recruiting, training, empowering, and releasing high energy teams of staff and volunteers is paramount to your success. As my two daughters often say (because they hear me say it all the time). Teamwork makes the dream work! I got that from my time around the LA Dream Center and following the amazing cause based career of Matthew Barnett. What began in LA has now extended internationally through the Dream Center Network. Amazing!

I highly recommend this book to leaders who have a cause in their heart and need an inspirational roadmap for the journey to see it lived out. WIth discussion questions in the back this can be done alone or in a small group or especially with the team surrounding the cause! This book isn’t for everyone. Many who have seen dreams come and go will baulk at all the stories and the antidotes and the inspirational quotes. For some it may be too late, but you never know. Maybe an attitude change could change the outcome of your past faded desires. It’s easy to be negative to those living and asking others to live their dreams. I simply believe that God has greatness for us all and that can be different as night and day for his children, but still greatness is there for us all!

I gave this book 5 stars because I feel Barnett captured his story and found principles to help others live their own story. It isn’t simply hype to get you excited, but a clarion call to action for those who need our gifts the most. If you are happy where you are at, great. Don’t read this book. If you feel a cause burning inside you, I cannot recommend a more readable and approachable book than The Cause within You. Oh, and if you can, get out to the LA Dream Center for one of their missions activities. Trust me, you will never be the same afterward.

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