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The Power of Leading by Influence

What I’m learning as Executive Pastor of Willow Creek
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What’s your favorite part of your role?

It brings me great joy to watch people take on more responsibility, spread their wings, and succeed. So we are really intentional with our staff development—how we're building up the people that God has brought onto our staff. Coaching and development is very much a part of our culture. We do 1- and 2-day retreats with small groups of people at an off-site location. We offer coaching and building in and special speakers that come. It’s really great because people are able to connect and learn in an environment outside of the office.

There is also more informal development. I do breakfast meetings regularly with a group of women leaders here at the church that I just want to continue to connect with. Development is part of our culture, but it looks different depending on the circles you’re involved in.

What has been your experience as a woman in church leadership?

A lot of times when people think about women in leadership they think they have to choose. But at Willow, I have been strongly encouraged that if I'm not winning on the home front, I won’t be able to win in ministry either—it will hurt my ministry rather than help move things forward. I have felt completely encouraged by Bill and the elders to be the best wife and mom that I can be. To be working in a place and with a team of people who value me not just for what I bring to work but who I am as a wife and a mom has been extremely important to me. My girls are now 10 and 11, and I will always be grateful to Willow Creek for the amount of time I am able to be with them and invest in them while still using my gifts within the church.

Parenthood is always shifting. What our families need from us is always shifting. So it's not about coming up with one model that then becomes your norm for every person. It's about helping people navigate where they can really be engaged both on the home front and in ministry. What has been important is setting up the values, and then having the conversations along the way to figure out what it looks like in this season for me and the people on my team.


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