by Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams
(from Take Heart Volume 1, Issue 8)
Do you ever feel out of control? Are you too often over scheduled, over committed, or over tired?
The title of Ben Young and Dr. Samuel Adams’ book, Out of Control Finding Peace for the Physically Exhausted and Spiritually Strung Out, is a mouthful. But don’t let that fool you! In this book, Young and Adam give us practical insights that are straightforward along with techniques that go right to the heart. They describe how to recognize the lies that feed our out-of-control lifestyles. They give help in rediscovering the power of full engagement through periodic disengagement -- also known as rest! They map out a road to explore deep insights by learning how to choose the life God designed for each of us.
I especially appreciated that the authors of this book did not shame the readers for the way we have been living. They empower us to make changes that will revolutionize our lives so that we maximize our most valuable resources of time and energy.
Reviewed by Betty McDowell, Heartbeat International Director of Ministry Services
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Read more from this edition of Take Heart.
by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President
From On the LeaderBoard | Volume 1, Issue 3
In this age of information, the average leader is awash with details. The great task of most days is wading through data to assemble, assimilate, and assign value to meaningful information. But information by itself, without context, isn’t particularly helpful. It’s likely just trivia.
Information must be organized into meaningful constructs to become knowledge. Knowledge becomes understanding when we find relevant application. Wisdom is manifested in how information, knowledge, and understanding are handled. Wisdom involves judgment, sensitivity, tact, and often, timing.
Where there is no choice, the exercise of wisdom is limited. It is when we recognize multiple choices, possibilities, or actions that wisdom can become our friend and ally. Judging between choices and possibilities leads us to questions about what we know, how we know it, and if we know enough.
Wisdom often involves balancing the need to gain more information with the available resources (including time) necessary to make an informed decision.
Besides information, there are other wisdom elements that come into play such as sensitivity to those involved or affected. The wise leader works to involve to some degree the stakeholders in the decision-making process. That could be in the form of a single brainstorming session or, full-on collaborative planning process. Even the most visionary thinker can have blind spots. Actively seeking the input of others, within reason, can minimize these as well as strengthen acceptance of the outcome.
The wise leader also factors the impact of the decision on others.
There must always be sensitivity to the fact that, even with the best of intentions, some people may be negatively affected. Therefore, the best decisions will include appropriate tactfulness in implementation. Tact is also important in communicating the decision. Crafting vivid, warm, vision-focused language can tactfully define a decision for all involved.
More than sensitivity and tact, wisdom seeks a process that honors all involved. Hard decisions, even those with difficult short-term consequences, can be implemented with this in mind.
A good decision, implemented in an untimely fashion, can produce negative results.
Wisdom involves timing for many reasons – maximizing return on investment, minimizing negative impact, speed to achieve expected results, slow implementation allowing others to adjust, etc. Tough decisions can require difficult steps that involve short term pain. But those difficult steps can be accomplished well.
Fortunately, wisdom isn’t just an innate quality reserved for a few. The book of Proverbs consistently implores us to seek and pursue it. Wisdom is promised by the Lord. Those serving in Christian ministry, at whatever level, should consistently pray for wisdom in all endeavors – personal, professional, and organizational.
Adapted from Heartbeat International’s foundational training manual, GOVERN Well™
Grace Chanda Swala was on the verge of giving up.
Having become executive director for Mansa Silent Voices in Zambia just a year ago, Grace and her family had laid the comfort of living in their own home on the altar, hoping to raise support for the fledgling center by renting out their home.
But by the time late July rolled around, and the Africa Cares for Life conference along with it, Grace was on the brink of losing heart.
Her heart burdened for the women and children in her community, and her spirit all but crushed under the weight of financial stress and worry, the five-day bus ride from Zambia to Durbin, South Africa, seemed like an eternity.
Would her center ever reach and rescue the women she passed by on the street every day? Could her ministry thrive under such tight constraints and seemingly insurmountable obstacles?
Would Grace and her family face financial ruin because of their selfless sacrifice on behalf of women and babies in Mansa?
Meanwhile, as Grace traveled the five days from Mansa to Durbin, grace was traveling halfway across the world to meet her, as Heartbeat International’s Director of Ministry Services Betty McDowell arrived for a full week of speaking and teaching at the conference.
Betty’s week started with a visit to Pregnancy Resource Centre, a maternity home in Durbin, and followed up with an in-depth day on fundraising all day Monday and into Tuesday morning.
While teaching two sessions on Heartbeat’s Sexual Integrity™ Program early in the week, Betty delivered two keynotes to the 80-plus person conference, which included representatives from three African nations.
“Vision came through as a major theme at this conference,” Betty said. “These friends face so many hardships we don’t here in the U.S., or even most parts in the west. It blew me away to hear from each organization about the problems they deal with: HIV, high crime rates, and even personal safety at risk on a day-to-day basis, and yet they keep at their work in spite of all these obstacles.”
“Africa Cares for Life did a superb job with this conference, and so much of the credit goes to Shanno Enoch, who was running her first conference as Executive Director,” Betty said. “That group is such an encouraging example of what true learners and servant-leaders look like.”
As the conference, “New Beginnings… Bountiful Harvest,” progressed, leaders like Grace were refreshed, encouraged and better equipped to hold fast to the Gospel of Life in spite of the daunting challenges they face every day.
For Grace, the conference truly proved to be a new beginning. As she boarded the bus back to Mansa, prepared for five days en route home, Grace reveled in the encouragement, instruction, and fellowship that had left her rejuvenated, and freshly ready to pursue her God-given call.
Grace also reflected on God’s faithfulness to provide a harvest. Even after a hard year of working the Zambian soil.
by Jay Hobbs, Communications Assistant
by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President
Probably the most common question asked when center leaders get together is, “How many unique clients do you see?”
Presumably, the higher the client number, the better the outreach. And it seems to follow, the better the outreach, the better the outcomes. But does this really reveal the whole picture? The answer in a word... hardly.
Yes, more client numbers generally suggests there are actually more “outcomes.” But does it naturally follow that those outcomes are “better”?
The answer to this question requires a deeper look, beyond focusing on total client numbers, and more closely evaluating the outcomes they represent. We have to ask, “What outcomes are we representing?”
Do we count a last known intention after one visit the same as that of a client we’ve seen several times throughout her pregnancy?
How do we qualify discussions relative to spiritual interactions? As faith-motivated ministries, we recognize the context of a life-and-death decision is every bit as spiritual as specifically choosing to follow Christ. Do we count both as equal in light of our mission?
Forty-plus years into the pregnancy help ministry, we all stand on the backs of entrepreneurs who blazed the trail before us. Those courageous folks—some of whom are still very active in our ministry today—tackled challenges like getting real-time pregnancy test results (before the easy tests were available) and getting listed in the Yellow Pages.
These pioneers learned to successfully draw someone who was not looking for their services (even though they desperately needed it), and that entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in our movement, as we push into the new electronic marketing frontiers and mobile device client intake.
With that, we must continually make room for the intrapreneurs among us—those who may not push the envelope per se, but who work to maximize their ministry’s effectiveness. Intrapreneurs spend time on process, protocol and efficiency (not to be confused with effectiveness).
These in turn help serve better outcomes as well as more outcomes. Pushing into new territory is important, but not to the exclusion of developing the territory we are already in. Thankfully, God provides those with temperaments fit for the task.
Take up the task of becoming a pregnancy help movement Intrapreneur today. You can begin by taking one more look at how you evaluate your outcomes.
by Jor-El Godsey, Vice President
Before you break out the mission statement, ministry tag-line or branded sound-bite, let’s look past today’s pundits’ and consultants’ definition of success.
Let’s see what the “Owner’s Manual” has to say about success. After all, if we are a Christian ministry, or simply Christians ministering, we should understand what the Bible has to say about success.
The New International Version has only a couple dozen occurrences of the word “success” (a few dozen more if we add “successor,” “successive,” etc.), and all of them are in the Old Testament.
When success is the subject of the verse, we see two distinct patterns. First, success is something that comes from the Lord, like Nehemiah 2:20: “I answered them by saying, ‘The God of heaven will give us success...’” Second, success is a reward for partnering/cooperating with the Lord, like we find in 2 Chronicles 26:5b: “As long as [King Uzziah] sought the LORD, God gave him success.”
Notice also that success noted in the examples above can be both corporate (“give us”) and individual (“gave him”). And again, success is noted as a gift from the Lord. Although the New Testament has no direct references to “success,” there are two themes that seem to indicate success among believers. These two, like the Old Testament references, are indicative of working and receiving from God.
1. Faithfulness. In 1 Corinthians 4:2, the Apostle Paul explains, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.” Our Lord asks us to be full of faith, particularly faith He will accomplish what He desires, both in and through us.
2. Fruitfulness. In the Gospel of John (15:8), Jesus states, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Fruit, ostensibly good fruit, is also an indicator of our relationship to God and our faith in Him. We were created for good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) that bring glory to Him and advance His kingdom (in our hearts and elsewhere).
So, in our work today, success is more than any “outcome” (that word only shows up once... in The Message) related to our mission. Positive outcomes are excellent and to be celebrated as one measure of success. But as both ministers and ministries, our success must include faithfulness to the mission—even in the face of opposition—and fruitfulness where we count the victories of those who embrace life, and life everlasting.
As you take stock of the year just past, look back a little further. Rick Warren says we “overestimate what we can accomplish in a day, and yet underestimate what we can do in a decade.”
Look back over the last decade (or more) as a minister and a ministry, and celebrate the success of faithfulness and fruitfulness.
“Let’s get the volunteers to do it. That will save a bundle!”
Volunteers are often seen as a supply of labor for almost any task or for the implementation of an action item. Leaders - board members and directors alike - often assume that volunteers are the least expensive option available. Think again.
Many moons ago, our pregnancy help center utilized a team of volunteers to accomplish the bulk mailing of our newsletters and appeals. Trays of printed material and envelopes along with stickers and labels were distributed. Presto, some two weeks later the mailing had been delivered.
Upon closer inspection, we realized that, in addition to the volunteer time, two staff members had spent ten work hours (a total of twenty staff hours) each mailing cycle to coordinate the assembly, distribution, and postal paperwork for this process. A local mailing service (also known as a fulfillment house) that had more sophisticated equipment could lower the postal rate and turn the same task around in three working days as opposed to two weeks. Cost comparisons revealed that, for just a few dollars more, we could improve our process, tighten our turn around, and release several volunteers to more personally rewarding tasks.
All leaders recognize the scarcity of resources to accomplish the mission and achieve the vision. The good leader continually evaluates how to allocate the limited resources available for maximum return on the investment for the ministry and those involved.
Adapted from DIRECT Well™, Heartbeat International’s manual for directors.
From On the LeaderBoard | Volume 2, Issue 2
by Betty McDowell, Heartbeat International Director of Ministry Services
As a social worker in the mental health field, I was trained to assess a patient’s level of alertness and orientation by asking them four questions: (1) Who are you? (2) Where are you? (3) What is the date and time? (4) What just happened to you?
This simple exercise helped determine the next steps in diagnosing the patient and constructing a treatment plan. But I have since discovered the value of asking the same four questions to those serving in ministry when I try to help them diagnose a problem and move forward in a clear direction.
How would you answer these four questions?
I have found that spending a little time at the end of each day to review my answers to these four questions has been a great habit. You too may find this practice valuable in becoming alert and oriented x4.
Also check out the link to "The Daily Examen" by St. Ignatius:http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-examen/how-can-i-pray/
by Leslie Malek
Any organization can stumble over the “Smarty-Pants” phenomenon. You may have witnessed this in your pregnancy help organization. Your team gathers to brainstorm. One confident person has a lot to say, speaks forcefully, sounds convincing, and everyone else defers to her passionate solution. This is the solution that will “save the day” – in theory.
In practice, it may be no solution at all. Smarty Pants has lots of ideas but quite possibly doesn’t actually know as much as she thinks she does. The real solutions that the less confident team members offered, or kept to themselves, fell under the imposing weight of Smarty Pants. Confident of intuition but without cause, Smarty Pants doesn’t know that she doesn’t know. A number of studies have explored the smarty-pants effect on groups and found over and over that people defer to information that comes from a confident person but in fact, there is an inverse relationship between confidence and knowledge.
“Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments” by Justin Kruger and David Dunning of Cornell University documents this phenomenon. The authors suggest that overconfident people often lack social and intellectual skill and thereby not only tend to erroneous conclusions and unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it.
More simply put, a lack of knowledge tends to lead a person to greater confidence than is warranted. The over-confidence that Smarty Pants projects leads people to believe that she is actually more knowledgeable than Smarty Pants really is.
At Harvard University, Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons carried out a number of experiments on this topic. In one experiment known as The Invisible Gorilla (now a classic in psychology), two groups, one wearing black and the other wearing white, pass two basketballs around. The viewers are asked to count the number of times the basketball is passed, something that is easy to do. Interestingly, half the viewers completely miss that a gorilla walks through the action and thumps its chest. Even more interesting, according to Simons, is the deep-rooted belief held by most people that they would notice something as out of place as a gorilla at basketball practice. In a survey commissioned by Chabris and Simons, more than 75 percent of a representative sample of American adults “agreed that they would notice such unexpected events, even when they are focused on something else.” Two things stand out from this experiment: people miss a lot of what goes on around them and they often have no idea that they are missing so much. They don't know that they don't know.
Another experiment by Chabris and Simon involved groups of people working together to solve a math problem. Instead of deferring to the person with the greatest math knowledge, the group deferred to the most confident person, regardless of that person’s knowledge. In 94 percent of the cases, each group’s final answer was the first answer suggested, regardless whether it was right or wrong, and it was the most confident person present who offered this answer.
Teams make the most progress when they are able to distinguish between confidence and knowledge. Effective team leaders make sure that everyone has input. The leader does help the group recognize the relationship between opinions and the actual knowledge and experience behind that information and does not just allow the most confident person to sway the result. Great team leaders also know that they do not know everything: that is why great leaders surround themselves with skilled and knowledgeable team members who do know a lot about their area of expertise. The leader and team members must explore what the individuals of the group actually know -- before coming to a conclusion.
A team that defers to confidence instead of knowledge and experience can make some astoundingly bad decisions.
The take away? Pay attention to the opinions of the most self-effacing, best listeners, and weigh the real expertise and knowledge of the most confident members on your team.
Book review by Debbie Schirtzinger, Heartbeat International Affiliation Coordinator
“What does true encouragement look like – the kind that changes lives forever? To encourage people is to help them gain courage they might not otherwise possess – courage to face the day, to do what’s right, to take risks, and/or to make a difference. And the heart of encouragement is to communicate a person’s value. When we help people feel valuable, capable, and motivated we sometimes see their lives change forever – and then see them go on to change the world.
“God’s love for us gives us the reason to encourage others.God’s love in us gives us the ability to encourage others.God’s love through us gives us the way to encourage others.”
Encouragement is an essential part of growing a positive attitude and improving life; and providing that encouragement benefits both the giver and the receiver(s). This book is packed with timeless quotes, scriptures, and short but meaningful stories that illustrate the value of offering and receiving encouragement. Author John Maxwell shares ways to effectively provide the kind of encouragement that transforms individuals, families, churches, and work teams into happier, healthier, more affirming networks.
Heartbeat provides several resources and trainings that were created for the Executive Director of a Pregnancy Help Organization. We know it takes a lot of your heart, time, and energy to manage staff and volunteers, work well with the Board, make sure prospective clients can find you, and keep the organization on budget (not to mention keeping that budget funded). We're here to help you find the right tools for the job.
Executive Director resources available for you include:
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