(Photo: Women of Faith)
Lead like a cockroach, she said.
Advising hundreds of church leaders online, Pastor Shelly Juskiewicz of Mariners Church offered her take on navigating through change or through a turning point.
Juskiewicz, like many others, teamed up with the Leadership Network Tuesday to help people all over the nation steer through their ministry during those turning points – moments when leaders faced a crossroads, were hit with unexpected changes, and needed to decide which way to go.
Called “Turning Points,” 32 of the most influential and brilliant women leaders across the country gathered online and briefly shared with viewers their own personal catastrophic changes and what they learned through them.
The four-hour free video conference highlighted stories of success and failure, and brought many onlookers insight into their own ministries and churches.
“You are either moving forward or backward,” Juskiewicz expressed during her segment of the event. “There’s no standing still as a leader. As leaders, we’re always adapting.”
Asking viewers to be students of culture, the Irvine, Calif., pastor elaborated on her metaphor on cockroaches. While dinosaurs became extinct because they could not adapt to the changing environment, cockroaches were alive and well because they knew how to adjust.
“The culture is constantly changing. We have to adjust what we’re leading to adapt to the changes in the culture. [Looking] at the organization we are in … what is the vision and direction that organization is going? You always want to be changing and adapting to be in alignment with that.”
Juskiewicz challenged believers to start looking into their programs. When was the last time they added a new program? Or let go of one?
Change happened when people let go of their fears and brought in new ideas and new things that would allow growth for each ministry.
But change was never easy or comfortable. Mary Graham, the president of Women of Faith, never liked change.
“I like to settle. Sometimes, I need to be nudged into change. And I’ve learned over the years to trust those who nudge me in my life.”
Her friend, the late Bill Bright, the former president of Campus Crusade for Christ, had nudged Graham to get involved with Women of Faith. She was happy where she was, but the counsel of her friends brought her to a new area in her life that she loves even more now.
“Trust the counsel of your friends. Pay attention to what God is doing in your life,” Graham charged. “When God changes you, you can lean in, settle down and let him do what he wants to do. You won’t be disappointed.”
At every crossroads or change, God would bring his people through by faith.
“We look at what [God’s] given us and we think there’s not enough of us,” expressed Elise Morgan, CEO of MOPS (Mother of Preschoolers) International.
Morgan faced several challenges and changes while running MOPS.
Her executive resigned suddenly without any prior notice.
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks happened just two weeks prior to their biggest international convention, where they were supposed to train thousands of moms – there was no way people would be willing to fly out after that.
Her husband decided to leave a stable job to start a new venture. Her teenage daughter announced she might be pregnant.
“I’ve faced these turning points. We’re never totally through with them.”
Illustrating her story, Morgan spaced two points on the wall, labeled “A” and “B.” A small square piece of paper, “C,” was used to get between the two separated points. She shared how oftentimes people felt that there was never enough “C” to get from point A to B.
Understanding the frustration that resulted when believers questioned how God would ever get them from those two points with such little resources, Morgan offered a few words of wisdom.
Referring to 1 Peter 4:12, she stated, “What you’re facing does not surprise God. He is not surprised with your transition.”
Reminding believers that God himself is in the transition, Morgan expressed God’s intention of using change as an instrument for good and that God would bring them through the transition or trial, not bring them out of it.
Cutting square “C” into an elongated shape that could reach both points, she concluded, “We look at what [God’s] given us and we think there’s not enough of us, but when we put ourselves in God’s hands he can make enough of us.”
Mindy Caliguire, founder and president of Soul Care, also held the same idea of trust that God would lead his people through each turn and fork.
“We are never without turning points,” Caliguire pressed. For several years, she was involved in church planting, assisting parachurches, and caring for young children.
Her life had a certain balance and rhythm to it. But when she was asked to join the staff for Willow Creek Association, a season of change was set in motion and panic began to settle.
Relaying a driving lesson once taught by her father, Caliguire shared her story of how she began to adjust to those imminent turning points in her life.
While she was learning how to drive one day, she was taken to the onramp of the highway where the road began to turn. Knowing her well enough, her father understood her fear of the turn and realized she would start to significantly slow down while making it.
Telling her, “Mindy, you have to keep in mind that these roads were designed to be taken at those speeds. You don’t need to slow down to take a turn on a highway. Trust the road ahead was made for the speeds you’re going.”
But for Caliguire, all she could see in front of her was the impending turn, feeling an immediate anxiety and fear from that. The fear made her want to slow down and make sure she was able to control the outcome.
Just like the effect this turning point had on her on the highway, much of her reactions to changes in her life were the same.
Thinking back on her father’s advice, she challenged others to begin trusting the designer of the road ahead instead of slowing down or stopping altogether.
“In your season of life, it might be that time where you need to rest in the accelerated pace, trust God’s in it, and go for it.”
Several other speakers including Kay Warren, Bianca Juarez, Christine Caine, and Jenni Catron spoke of their own seasons of unexpected change and how they learned and are still learning to deal with them.
One of the virtual attendees described the event as a “band of sisters” moment, where sisters everywhere joined together as one body for one purpose – to glorify God.
Each guest left viewers not just with encouraging and inspiring stories, but also with tangible and practical advice on how leaders could begin to navigate their ministry through each defining turning point.