"We will reproduce what we are." That statement, made by Wayne Cordiero at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit 2006, proved to be a turning point for me as a leader. Like most leaders, my type-A, high-capacity leadership gifting has me traveling pretty fast most of the time. If I'm honest with myself, I tend to like it that way. After listening to Wayne's message, however, I'm not so sure God likes it that way.
Hearts at Home started out as a small church event for moms 15 years ago. Now this international ministry that I lead reaches thousands of moms all over the world. The demands for speaking and writing feel overwhelming at times. And if that wasn't enough, I'm a pastor's wife and mother of five. There's a lot to do and a lot of responsibility to manage.
As leaders, we are in the reproducing business. Any leader has influence and influence leads to reproduction in some way. We will reproduce what we are.
If that is true, then what am I reproducing? More high capacity, stressed out leaders? More high producing, yet spiritually shallow leaders? If I'm honest, I carry a lot of stress and anxiety and, due to the pace of life, my spiritual life has suffered. Is that what I want to reproduce in my leaders? In my church? In my children?
Sitting at that Summit two years ago, I did some serious life evaluation. And I didn't like what I saw. Something had to change. I have always believed that God is more interested in who we are becoming than in what we are doing. But living that out is so hard when there is so much to be done!
My first step was to consider what exactly I want to reproduce. It was really a simple answer for me - I want to reproduce leaders, church members, and children who trust Jesus Christ as their Savior and as Lord of their life. If that's my goal, it has to start with me. Indeed Christ is my Savior, but where is he not Lord of my life? As I began to ask God that question, he began to show me places that I had refused to surrender to him. The more I intensely pursued this, the more I realized that I needed time in my life to simply "be" and not "do." OK, God, you're stepping on my high-capacity toes now!
On the urging of a friend, I chose to pursue one quiet day a week. I didn't have a day to give to this crazy idea, but I had a vision for a new level of leadership and I knew I had to do something differently. I chose Tuesday as my "God Day." I found a place away from home to spend the day. I took my Bible, a devotional book, a journal, and a pen. For the first day, the minutes seemed like hours and I squirmed, paced, and struggled knowing that there were so many things on my "to do" list that I needed to accomplish! But I placed my struggles at his feet and stayed committed. Several verses jumped out of the page to me as I read my Bible. As I journaled my prayers, my heart began to feel lighter. By the end of my day, I experienced a peace like I hadn't experienced in a long time.
Seven days later I embarked on my second Tuesday and I actually anticipated it this time. I still struggled with the "to do" list, but it didn't seem like it was screaming quite as loud as the week before. By the end of that day, I had answers to two leadership decisions I had to make. And again that peace.
Now one year later, I'm leading from a different place and at a different pace. I'm hearing God's voice again, craving his Word, and experiencing a God-confidence from deep within.
And what am I reproducing? Well, we're too early in the process to really see those results because this is really relatively new for me. In time, however, I hope to that my love relationship with Jesus Christ will be so evident that it will be contagious to those around me.
And my prayer is that who I am becoming is far more evident than what I am doing.