... 4 quick leadership bits for your Friday ...

More tragedy this week.  Another senseless act in a school. Carey Nieuwhof’s words written months ago are still applicable today.

There is a spot for YOU, lady in leadership, to join us in Take 5 in April!!  Check out the details and register soon.

Are you doing all 10?
This is a great list regardless how long you’ve been in leadership.


Rules of Chocolate

... this is important leadership stuff, y'all!!!

I have no idea where this came from … otherwise I would give credit to the author because it is absolutely brilliant!!!

Enjoy your heart day and your chocolate, friends!!!!

“Rules of Chocolate”

It’s Valentine’s Day, and that means thousands of tons of chocolate will be given away.

With that in mind, keep these rules handy:

1. If you’ve got melted chocolate all over your hands, you’re eating it too slowly.

2. Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices & strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.

3. The problem: How to get 2 pounds of chocolate home from the store in hot car. The solution: Eat it in the parking lot.

4. Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each meal. It’ll take the edge off your appetite and you’ll eat less.

5. A nice box of chocolates can provide your total daily intake of calories in one place. Isn’t that handy?

6. If you can’t eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer. But if you can’t eat all your chocolate, what’s wrong with you?

7. If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.

8. If you eat equal amounts of dark chocolate and white chocolate, that is a balanced diet.

9. Money talks. Chocolate sings.

10. Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

11. Why is there no such organization as Chocoholics Anonymous? Because no one wants to quit.

12. Put “eat chocolate” at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you’ll get one thing done.


... 4 quick leadership bits for your Friday ...

Does giving come naturally to you?
Regardless of the answer, we can all be more intentional.
Check out these tips on cultivating generosity.

Deciding on 2018 conference experiences?
Check out this Spring Children’s Ministry opportunity in MI.

One of the books I finished this week was Michele Cushatt’s Undone: A Story of Making Peace With an Unexpected Life.
Highly recommend.

If you’re a leader and not a learner, you’re going to have a real short shelf-life.
–Todd Adkins
Leadership Pipeline 2016

$1.99 eBook Deals

Enjoy eBooks? These titles are currently just $1.99.
Just in time for some fun February reading!!

(This eBook sale runs through 2/18.  After that, the price below will reflect Amazon’s regular pricing.)

Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and I will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through the links. Read my disclosure policy here.

We HEART Volunteers (part 6)

Notes & More!

Note!  This is one of several posts in the We HEART Volunteers series.  Be sure to check out the rest of the good stuff on this same topic!

We HEART Volunteers
… snail mail style!

Expressing yourself in writing can go a long way with folks.

Whether … you purchase cute thank you cards with most of the sentiment printed and then jot a very brief personalized line or two.
… you purchase blank notecards intended for a longer note from you, your thoughtfulness will be recognized.

This effort is so worth your time and the cost of stamps (and, yes, send these directly to homes rather than hand-delivering on a busy Sunday morning).


After the decorating, food preparing, giveaway giving and notecard writing, here are just a few other ideas to prompt your creativity during your appreciation month:

<> a word of thanks from the Senior Pastor during the worship service on Sunday morning
<> a fun “thank you for serving” video shown during the month – this can either be one that find online or create yourself ahead of time
<> a Parent’s Night Out JUST for your volunteers who have kids; for those without children, a small gift card to a local ice cream place
<> a movie night at a theater that you rent out for entire families of your team members. Folks of all ages will enjoy this!
<> a red carpet dinner with a more formal-&-fancy tone including a sit-down meal and fun entertainment
<> WHAT ELSE would you add?

Set …
GO …
have a fabulous time appreciating your folks in February (or any other month you choose)!!
And, I’d love to hear all about it!! Send me emails with pics so I can celebrate with you.


... 4 quick leadership bits for your Friday ...

Ready to take your reading list to the next level?
Be sure these 15 stay front & center to either read again or enjoy for the first time.

Some words on When A Leader Has Doubts

It’s February!!  Ready to appreciate your teams?
Don’t miss the We HEART Volunteers series.

The decision to be in God’s Word daily will positively affect every other decision you make.
– Pat Cooper

We HEART Volunteers (part 5)


Note!  This is one of several posts in the We HEART Volunteers series.  Be sure to check out the rest of the good stuff on this same topic!

We HEART Volunteers
… fun freebies!

Who doesn’t love to win something free with no strings attached??!?  Consider purchasing gift cards, jumbo candy bars, movie tickets or whatever fits your budget to giveaway during your appreciation month.

Be sure your gifts are fairly gender and age neutral.  The worst way to “appreciate” an amazing male volunteer is to ‘award’ him with a manicure gift certificate … no doubt he would prefer chocolate or an Amazon card!

Name-In-The-Hat-Giveaway. Place a heart-shaped container at the breakfast area for folks to drop their name into one Sunday morning. Provide slips of paper and pens to make it easy to enter.

Estimate-and-Win-Giveaway. Get creative with those cute estimating jars – fill a mason jar or some other clear container with a lid full of candy hearts and let the guessing begin. This contest can go on for the entire month and the winner will be the math whiz who gets closest to the actual number of candies. The prize could be the actual jar of candy and/or another fun freebie.

Sneaky-In-The-Email-Giveaway. Send an email at some point during the month and ask a fun question right in the middle … if folks are “really reading” your update, they will reply with their answer, you’ll put their name in a hat and draw a random winner to receive the surprise.

Facebook-Page-Giveaway. If you have activity on a Facebook page, announce a totally separate giveaway and let folks comment to a question that you ask as their method of entry. Ask a question ministry-related such as, “What is your favorite part of serving in Children’s Ministry (or whatever area you are in)?” Or, ask a season-related question such as, “What do enjoy most about the cold winter months?” When you post on FB, be sure to attach a picture that will call even more attention to your words. And, for fun, don’t mention this give-away in any other setting. You may only have a few comments and those folks will have a higher chance of winning … yay for them for paying attention to your post and for responding!!

As you award the giveaways, announce it as big and loud and public as you can. Make it special for those who won and thank them again for all they do.

We HEART Volunteers (part 4)

Let's Eat!

Note!  This is one of several posts in the We HEART Volunteers series.  Be sure to check out the rest of the good stuff on this same topic!

Nothing says “Thanks for serving” like chocolate and other good eats.

Know your budget and decide what works best for your setting.  If you are planning far enough in advance, there is a good chance that you could acquire some donations from stores and restaurants to supplement what your budget can’t handle!

Here are a few practical ways to incorporate food into your month of appreciation:

[ ] provide baskets of individually wrapped candy for volunteers and team members in strategic locations

[ ] prepare Sunday morning breakfast. Whether it is Bojangles heart-shaped biscuits (seasonal) or homemade egg and sausage casseroles, invite your volunteers to come a few minutes early to a designated location for the buffet style meal. Be sure to complete it with fresh fruit, coffee and juice. Fun heart themed paper products add to the decor and make for easy clean-up. If you’re extra ambitious, provide some type of breakfast each Sunday morning of the entire month. But, be warned that the first Sunday of March will be a let-down when breakfast isn’t available!!!

[ ] reserve a room at a local restaurant. This can be for volunteers only or for entire families of your team members. Promote the time and date for them to meet you there and share a meal and laughter and other fun surprises (including giveaways). The cost of the meal will likely need to be the responsibility of each person/family. If you ask in advance and explain that you are appreciating volunteers, you may be able to get some coupons or percentages off from the restaurant to give to your folks.

[ ] plan a Sunday Soup & Sandwich. Intended for the entire family of all your volunteers, prepare simple soup and sandwich options for them to enjoy together immediately after church on a Sunday. If you will have potentially large numbers, an RSVP is recommended. Provide nametags since some of your folks may not know each other. Fun surprises include something simple at each place setting OR a candy-bouquet centerpiece that also serves as a giveaway for each table. Again, Valentine-themed paper products fit your objective and make for quick and easy clean-up! Consider planning far enough in advance to recruit a couple of folks who would not be invited to this gathering to assist you with the decor, centerpieces, food prep and clean-up. Protect your sanity for a Sunday and get help for events like this!!!

[ ] provide a Grab & Go Meal. Maybe a full after-church-on-Sunday gathering isn’t an option for you. Consider a “grab and go” meal for your volunteer families. This is particularly do-able if you have a small number to provide for. Create a box or brown bag meal for each family including prepared items such as sub sandwiches, cups of soup, pb & j for the kids, bags of chips, carrots and other cut veggies, apples, bananas, individually wrapped packs of snack crackers and sweets. Have fun with the lunch-to-go and know that your volunteers will be ever grateful to not have to eat out or fix something quick at home. You have provided an easy answer for their hungry families and maybe even given the gift of time for a Sunday afternoon nap.

[ ] set up a Candy Buffet. Find a spot to be “extra sweet” to your folks and set up a candy buffet for them. Whether you go all red for heart month or you mix in lots of chocolate and such, you can’t go wrong with appreciating people via their sweet tooth. This effort can be as simple or elaborate, as expensive or frugal as you like. If you are tapping into someone else’s expertise and time to make this happen, be sure to talk through your expectations and budget to keep it on track.

No doubt you’ll think of other ways to say THANKS with sweets & eats.  Have fun watching the smiles.

We HEART Volunteers (part 3)

Let's Decorate!

Note!  This is one of several posts in the We HEART Volunteers series.  Be sure to check out the rest of the good stuff on this same topic!

We HEART Volunteers … Let’s Decorate!

There’s nothing like the surprise of walking into the normal hallways or office areas to find hearts galore. And retailers (especially dollar stores) make it super easy to make it happen. On the walls, from the ceiling, propped on tables and floating in the air, hearts of all shapes and sizes whether plain or with writing, give the areas your volunteers serve in a fun pop for the month while you celebrate them.

If your budget is going to be super thin for the year, recruit some folks who are watching TV on these cold winter nights to cut out a gazillion hearts in various sizes and colors. You may want to give a pattern cut out on card stock. Also send the construction paper or scrapbook paper and a good sharp pair of scissors to make their job easy. Let them know the date you need the hearts in your possession allowing plenty of time in case someone falls through because of some unavoidable life circumstance.

Mylar balloons are an easy way to give a big splash. Red heart mylars are typically available at Dollar Trees (where everything is $1) and they will last all month long!

If you have a little money to use on decor, consider Oriental Trading, dollar stores, and thrift stores to stretch those precious dollars as far as possible. While you’re shopping, be on the look-out for wall and ceiling decor, paper products, plastic heart serving containers and other things you may find helpful throughout the month.

Take advantage of %off deals after the 14th and add to your collection. In a short time, you’ll have lots of fun things to choose from and your volunteers will look forward to the special month that you have designated just for them. Be sure to find a safe storage area for the items that can be used again in future years.

3 Reasons To Resist The Squeak

A bit ago, I reflected on advice I was given. The squeaky wheel gets attention, right?!? Yes, but is it really the kind of attention that we desire.

Here are reasons I think squeaking is harmful to our leadership:

1. Squeaking is often inappropriately noisy. In its most honest form, it is complaining and whining. Neither are good leadership practices. And neither get us to our end goal.

2. Squeaking is annoying to others. You know that grocery cart? The one I always seem to pick out!! That noise just goes everywhere with me … if I have time, I will take that cart back to the front and get a new one.  If we squeak constantly around others, we may just find ourselves sitting alone … or being replaced!

3. Squeaking eventually gets ignored. Back to the grocery cart … if I choose to keep it, about half-way through the store, I simply no longer hear it. It was not miraculously healed and I do not carry a can of WD-40 when I shop, I just begin focusing on other things. My mind wanders. I become intent to get my shopping list checked off. I speak to someone I know. The squeak is unheard. If we’re not careful, every time we open our mouths, folks will assume we are going to squeak and they just stop listening.

So, how about you?  Where do your fall on the squeak-spectrum?
Is this an area of your leadership that can use some intentional focus?
Are you willing to reach out to someone you trust and get their feedback in this area?

We HEART Volunteers (part 2)

The How!

Note!  This is one of several posts in the We HEART Volunteers series.  Be sure to check out the rest of the good stuff on this same topic!

We HEART Volunteers … Yes, but how?

We’ve established great reasons to make ourselves extra tired during the month of February to love on our volunteers.

The second month of the year lends itself so easily toward appreciating and loving on our teams. Whether you have a volunteer base of 200+ or a ministry team of less than 5, you can tap into all of the hearts and chocolates that come with February to show how much you care!

Let’s get to the nitty-gritty. To the FUN stuff!!!

Here are several keys to a successful appreciation month:

Plan ahead. This is not something that you can pull off well the night before. Give yourself brainstorming time.

Make lists. Lists of items needed for decorations, food, giveaways, promotions and folks to join you on the adventure.

Recruit others. Find folks outside of your ministry area to help! Who loves to decorate? Who loves to cook? Who loves to shop? Meet with these folks either as a group or individually, share your dream of loving on your volunteers for an entire month, communicate your why. Invite them into your brainstorming and watch the magic of team unfold. Get clear about what you are asking them to do – something in writing with dates (by when) is most helpful. Then, turn them loose to make it happen. Check in periodically to see what they need from you and to ensure that everything is on track. Give away as much as you can. Trust me that you’ll still have plenty on your plate that only you can handle.

Promote. Be sure your volunteers/ministry teams know all the fun things just ahead! You’ll want them to “save the date” for some of your specials. You’ll also want them to come hungry to any Sunday a.m. breakfasts that you provide. Communicate well so they will get the most out of your appreciation efforts.

Sample promo for your worship folder/Sunday bulletin:
We HEART Volunteers!!!
February is Children’s Ministry Volunteer Appreciation Month … and we want you to know how very much we love you.  If you currently serve in any area with 5th & under, then this is for YOU !!
Be sure to read your mail carefully for all the details …
and keep your eyes and ears open for other info to unfold during the month.
YOU are making an eternal difference!

Now, are you ready for some easy and practical ideas??
Stay tuned … for details on decorating, food, giveaways, and more!


... 4 quick leadership bits for your Friday ...

EntreLeadership 1-Day Live Stream
April 27, 2018
Details & Registration here
… this will be beneficial to leaders in all areas!!

Heart Day … coming soon!

Do you know the times you should kill a good idea?

Facebook has made & will continue to make lots of changes that impact us all in various ways.  If you are specifically interested in taking control of your News Feed and choosing what you see, take a look at this!

We HEART Volunteers!

Part 1: The WHY

Note!  This is the first of several posts in a series.  We’ll get on the same page with the “why” and then we’ll get very practical toward the most amazing appreciation focus ever!

Why in the world, with so much else to do, would we celebrate and appreciate our volunteers and ministry teams for an entire month?

1. Speak their language! Just as everyone has a love-language, everyone also has an appreciation-language. While cute cards work for some, others prefer hugs and still others much prefer chocolate. Yes, please!! An entire month of appreciation gives plenty of time to be certain that everyone’s language has been spoken and that appreciation has been truly felt.

2. Create a wow! Do you want your volunteers to create wow experiences for children, families, and others? Then model what that looks like. From decorating to food to fun giveaways (more on that coming soon), an entire month gives time to show off just what a “wow” is, how it feels and why it should happen.

3. Catch everyone! Folks are going to be out on various Sundays. (really? – haha!) So, if your appreciation effort is just 1 Sunday, you’ll miss out on thanking some of your people. If, by chance, you have a volunteer who is out for the entire month due to an illness, birth of a baby, etc, do something very personal and make a special delivery.

4. Go overboard! When your volunteers stop serving in your area, they will never say, “I was appreciated too much!” Seriously. We cannot thank folks enough. Spending 4 weeks of effort will be so worth it.

Volunteers and ministry teams often go beyond the call of duty. They accomplish things that we couldn’t possibly do alone. They make ministry happen every single time the church doors are open. Your efforts to appreciate them for the month of February will be multiplied by 50 or more. Give it a try!! If you don’t like it, you don’t ever have to do it again. My guess is that this may become a much anticipated annual happening for you and your volunteers. And, from experience, the word will get out and your area will become THE place to serve!!

Everyone Needs a Clara Mae!

16 years ago I stumbled into a break-out session of a large conference. At that time, I had been on a church staff for less than a year and was hungry to learn all that I could. In other words, I had no idea what I was doing!!!

The session leader, Clara Mae, talked at length on practical ideas in Children’s Ministry as well as Personal Growth. She had a table display that held recommended reading and she ended by giving participants her personal book list.

I remember thinking how very much I wanted to be like her. I also remember thinking that I had zero time to read!

After her session ended and folks were filing out, I made my way to the front to chat with her. Note that this was VERY out of character for this introvert. She was so kind in responding to my very simple question: “How do you find time to read?”

She didn’t laugh at me. Instead, she asked me a few questions about ages of my children, length of time in ministry, etc. She took time to learn a little more of my story behind my question and responded accordingly.

She listened. She really heard my heart. She took time with me. She treated me as an individual.

That day began a long-distance but super special relationship. Clara Mae speaks to hundreds. She mentors dozens. She remembers my name and has exchanged emails, phone calls and personal visits many times during the past 16 years. And, I constantly thank my Father for this sweet gift.

Who is YOUR Clara Mae? Who is several seasons ahead of you that you trust? Who do you allow to speak into your life? Do you have one or more faces coming to mind right now?

If so, I celebrate with you!! Keep yourself in relationships that help you grow.

If not, I challenge you to seek out a Clara Mae.

Lead yourself well by watching and learning from folks who are modeling the growth and leadership that you desire!

The Advice I Deleted

Ever heard of “the squeaky wheel” concept?

Early in my ministry years, a well-meaning (I think) person on staff told me directly that the squeaky wheel gets attention and that I should be more squeaky!! She was very serious in suggesting that I get loud about needs and wants in my ministry area.

The advice initially shocked me. I respected the advice-giver tremendously so I did process the comments quite a bit. I reflected on my God-given leadership style and, in the end, completely dismissed the suggestion.

I’m not a naturally squeaky-style person.  In fact, squeakers bother me. The time and energy that it takes to be loud about getting your own way is a complete distraction from living each day focused on what we are called to do.

Being squeaky doesn’t work for me.
In fact, I’m not sure it really works for any leaders.
More on that very soon!


... 4 quick leadership bits for your Friday ...

Things to consider as you’re planning to appreciate folks.
In a good-better-best format …

When was the last time you asked for intentional feedback from someone in your life?

“You can’t be fearless without being curious about what’s possible in your life.”
@MollyFletcher #leadercast17

On leadership: what’s your lollipop moment?
Worth a few minutes of your time …

2nd Verse Same As the 1st?

Will your 2018 play out the same as your 2017 with just a different date?

What are you going to do differently to lead yourself in a better way?

What are you going to do differently to lead up and build a stronger relationship with your supervisor?

What are you going to do differently to lead your team more effectively?

Make some decisions today that will truly make a difference in the upcoming year.

If you’re a gal in leadership, give some serious consideration to joining me at a Take 5 Experience.  You’ll be so glad you did!!

Let’s make this year a very different verse – one that is more of what we desire in leadership and much less of “same old, same old.”  We get to choose and we can make it happen!

34 Titles for My 2018 Reading List

... just the beginning ...

I typically reserve book sharing of those I have already completed and feel good about recommending.

At the beginning of the new year, I’m sharing my 2018 Book List.  These have been suggested from a variety of sources and I’m excited to start chipping away.  You’ll notice the variety of leadership, fiction, finance, marriage, spiritual, biography and more.  The hardest decision will be knowing which one to read “next.”

My goal for the year is to make it through 55 books and I am looking forward to the enjoyment and the growth that will follow from each one that I put a check mark beside.

Obviously, this is only the beginning of the list that will help me accomplish my goal, but it gets me off to a super start without having to think too hard.  In fact, the top 2 are already downloaded to my phone and ready to begin.

Undone: A Story of Making Peace With An Unexpected Life (Michele Cushatt)

How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge (Clay Scroggins)

Building a StoryBrand (Donald Miller) … just completed!

Your Best Year Ever (Michael Hyatt)

A Trip Around the Sun (Mark Batterson)

For Women Only (Shaunti Feldhahn) … this is a “read again” book!

Less (Rose Lounsbury)

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (Adam Grant)

Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity (Charles Duhigg)

Tribe of Mentors: Short Life Advice from the Best in the World (Tim Ferriss)

Nothing to Prove (Jennie Allen)

Just Open the Door (Jen Schmidt)

H3 Leadership (Brad Lomenick) … another “read again” book!!

Financially Chic (Fiona Ferris)

Leadership From the Inside Out: Becoming a Leader for Life (Kevin Cashman)

The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Your Life to the Next Level (Gay Hendricks)

The Giver (Lois Lowry)

The Leadership Handbook (John C. Maxwell)

Humble Roots (Hannah Anderson)

The Rest of God (Mark Buchanan)

The Broken Way (Ann Voskamp)

Wonder (R.J. Palacio)

Unashamed (Christine Caine)

The Complete 101 Collection (John C. Maxwell)

No More Faking Fine (Esther Fleece)

Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … And Maybe the World (William McRaven)

Grace, Not Perfection (Emily Ley)

A Portrait of Emily Price (Katherine Reay)

Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God (David McCasland)

5 Levels of Leadership (John C. Maxwell) – reading again!

Small Change: The Secret Life of Penny Burford (J. Belinda Yandell)

At Home in the World (Tsh Oxenreider)

A More Beautiful Question (Warren Berger)

The Little Big Things (Tom Peters)

With this list of 34, I have plenty of room to add books recommended by friends, at conferences, and those I hear about on podcasts.  It’s going to be a great year of book-reading!!

So, what about you?  What books are you planning to read in the upcoming 12 months?
What would you suggest that I add to my list?

(Note: The links in this post are affiliate links, and I will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking through the links. Read my disclosure policy here.)