When someone else is telling you what to do, you don’t have to lead anything. You don’t even have to think. You just learn to put your mind in neutral and go with the flow. ~Clay Scroggins
What’s your preference? Do you prefer to lead or follow? When we don’t feel adequate enough to lead it’s nice to sit at the feet of an expert or someone who has more life experience. Sometimes we don’t want the responsibility to carry the conversation or lend our own vulnerable truth. But at some point, especially in this digital age where we are leaving a footprint, we need to be sharing our wisdom instead of posting our lunch. And there’s the rub. Who’s to say my experience and knowledge is worthy enough to share?
Several years ago a friend asked if I would be interested in mentoring her. She was a stay at home mom with a part time accounting business. I had been in the corporate world for 20 years and was a stepmom to two amazing kids. She wanted someone who had feet in both worlds, corporate and family. I saw our friendship as peers, as an equal but we were 12 years apart. She knew I had life experience which would benefit her. What she didn’t know is I had to get over my age issues of being considered the ‘older woman.’ After a year of running away from this request and several other random requests to mentor, it became clear God wanted me in this role. It lead to 4 years of mentoring seven women.
It’s how I was able to finally answer the question, “Who’s to say my experience and knowledge is worthy enough to share?” It was simply my past life experience coupled with similar values and goals. It was through this simple mentoring program and the marriage curriculum called Thrive, which my husband, Russ, and I facilitated for our church the past 5 years. We learned our intentionality delivered life lessons not only for us to learn but they were meant to be shared with others.
In the book, How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge by Clay Scroggins he shares, “All human beings have a measure of leadership loaned to them. We may not immediately recognize it for what it is , but we each have the ability, as well as the opportunities, to influence others and effect change in this world.”
Back in 2009, I resigned from the corporate world to help out with the logistics of school and activities for my stepdaughter. After she graduated in 2014, my time became more my own. After starting and closing a small business for 5 years, God pointed me in the direction of mentoring opportunities. At the same time, my husband and I started facilitating Thrive.
Russ had already been mentoring men who were unfortunately in the middle of getting a divorce. They either knew him directly or were referred to him by others because they had a similar story. Russ had spent years in counseling wanting to learn what his role was in the breakdown of his first marriage. The counseling along with some godly mentors and a significant message by Andy Stanley called Rx for the Fractured Family moved Russ into a position of forgiveness, as he continued to work on himself. This led to a wonderful friendship with his former wife and the ability for all of us to live in the same neighborhood while the kids were growing up.
Fast forward to our marriage, did we start leading these small groups because we had this marriage thing figured out? Not at all! We have to remind Thrive couples that we still fight, we still have arguments and we get annoyed with each other. Conflict didn’t stop but how we repaired and recovered from conflict was the secret sauce. Before Russ and I got married we knew we both had significant baggage we were bringing into the marriage so we spent a year in pre-marital counseling. Russ had been married before with two children, had an alcoholic and violent father, who later accepted Christ a couple years before passing away and I had some significant attachment issues. So we made a commitment to stay in counseling once a month for the life of our marriage. To reference Clay, the counseling commitment was “nothing that would go viral but it was and has been incredibly significant!” Now that may seem extreme for some and initially we did counseling out of fear. Over time it became less about counseling and more about proactive coaching. It is in sharing these principles coupled with the amazing Thrive curriculum where we began to see marriages transform.
I, Danielle, have been more of a private person where as my husband is an open book! It was through Russ’ leadership and examples of being transparent where I learned others could benefit from our journey and more importantly from our mistakes. Yes, it was extremely vulnerable but I love Brené Brown’s definition of vulnerability:
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”
So it’s with this belief now in sharing the good, the bad and the ugly with married couples where we are “ruthlessly committed to doing what is best to help others.” -Clay Scroggins Yes, I was guilty of letting fear paralyze me but God showed us over and over teaching and sharing what we’ve learned was resulting in transformed marriages. And it’s with this gift of influence where we developed the authority to do what God wants us to do.
So at my husband’s suggestion, we took this gift of influence one step further and developed this Marriage Membership Website called Intentional Marriages. After each Thrive group ended we felt the relational pain of not being able to continue due to our bandwidth and because we would be leading Thrive again in a few short months. It was in this relational pain where Russ suggested we stay connected digitally. Now I’m no website coder but I knew I wanted to be able to protect our content from the world wide web so we opted for membership by simply signing in using your email address and a password. It’s here where many of us who did Thrive together can comment, teach and encourage each other.
Leaders who feel a strong sense of ownership are leaders who connect their job to the results of the organization. -Clay Scroggins
I believe this principle can be applied in both the corporate world and the community world. We believe in our church’s desire to ‘build stronger marriages…together.’ Russ and I may not be in formal positions with Thrive but our “hands are open to whatever God might want to do through (us) even if that means (we’ll) never be in charge.” – Clay Scroggins
What are your hands open to? You have life experience to share, you have mistakes to help others prevent, you have an opportunity to influence several generations now with our digital footprint. Start today and make a difference. The church needs leaders, the community needs your help, your friends need you, most of all your family needs you. We all need YOU!