What Influence Means to Me in My Journey to Know and Be Known
The people who influenced me most
As I look back over the 6 decades of my life, I can easily recognize the mentors, guides and influencers God has placed in my life at very specific times and for very specific reasons.
When I was a young girl, my Aunt Gert occasionally invited me and my sister to help her harvest eggs from 100+ chickens in her chicken coup and prepare them for sale. She invited us and entrusted us with her livelihood at an age when we could have had a detrimental effect on her revenue stream. She saw something in us that we didn’t see in ourselves—competence that translated into confidence! We were known.
When I was a senior in high school, my mother returned to her homeland in Hawaii, leaving me at home with a broken arm and an alcoholic father and no intentions to return. God provided many people to help care for me, but Matty stands out. She was my volleyball and track coach, and she recognized my value and saw my potential to be a leader. Over and above coaching me on the court or track, she challenged me and gave me coaching opportunities throughout my college career. I was known.
Since becoming a Christian, several other women have influenced me. Sibyl Towner, (One Life Maps) was my first spiritual mentor as a new Christian. She continues to be an encourager and listener for the activity of God in my life.
Gail Donahue (My Life is Sacred) is my spiritual director and silent and solitude retreat leader. My faith is deeper, richer, more real and vibrant because of her influence in my life.
Charlene Armitage is a volunteer I’ve served with on the Summit team for 14 years and in that time, she has coached me, challenged me, listened to me and called out the best in me.
These women know me and have created threads in the tapestry of who I am today. Being known may seem scary, but it doesn’t have to be!
What influence means to me
Influence means something about me is affecting someone else. This could be good or bad, of course.
My hope is my influence, my affect, is equal to all those who’ve influenced me. That I will truly know others as I have been known and I will lead others on their journey to become all God has created them to be.
Influence—knowing and being known—is why I’m so passionate about the Summit
I first got involved with the Summit while I was working as a 911 dispatcher. When my days off at my job overlapped with the conference, I volunteered. I loved it. I didn’t want to go home at the end of the day.
15 volunteer GLS coaches lead 1,000 event managers and resource coordinators who lead more than 10,000 volunteers nationwide
I had never seen anything like the Summit. I was totally swept away by what these conferences could do for churches around the world.
Coming from a small traditional church, I was thinking about my own church specifically and their challenges. I thought, every church needs to have the opportunity to learn and grow and impact their community by attending the Summit. Every church leader!
After a 14-year career in law enforcement, I retired early, and served more at Willow. I applied for every available position that I might qualify for. It took four years until there was a role on the operations team. And when that role became available, everyone on the team already knew me because I had been serving with them. It was a natural fit.
I started almost 15 years ago at a time when there were 83 host sites across the United States. Today my leadership role is to lead host site operations for 500+ host sites. I’ve learned a lot over the years!
There is a ripple effect to leadership in this role. First, there is the team that I lead here on campus, which includes our publishing coordinator, satellite coordinator and project coordinator. This team is closest to my heart and my primary focus is on helping them thrive in their respective roles. The next circle is a group of 15 volunteers called the GLS Coaches, and then all our host site event managers and resource center coordinators. The people I’m closest to get the best of me. Then we share the best of our team with the next two concentric circles, with the outer most circle being comprised of about 1,000 event managers and resource coordinators who lead more than 10,000 volunteers nationwide. I see it like a pebble tossed into a pond; hopefully my leadership influences all the rest.
My favorite thing about leadership is witnessing the activity of God in another and the growth that comes from that. It’s helping someone along, standing back, getting out of the way, but certainly knowing people well enough to challenge them to move forward without breaking them down. It’s looking beyond the role into who they are and what they’re called to do.
Knowing people for who they are first, and what they do second
Over the last 5-6 years of Summits, the theme that has affected me the most is being the kind of leader God wants me to be has everything to do with knowing and caring for people first and out of that, knowing everything else will flow.
The Betenbough Homes grander vision story inspired me to change the way I lead my volunteers and my team. Summit speaker, Marcus Buckingham, in his 2017 talk “Reinventing Performance Management” also spoke to the notion that each person I lead should always know I’m here to help them succeed. And Craig Groeschel’s 2018 session, “Becoming a Leader People Love to Follow” also challenged me to authentically care for those I lead (just like all of the influencers/leaders/mentors in my life have done).
My desire is to get even greater connection to the people we serve internally and externally. It’s about people being known.
I want to know what’s going on in the lives of my team, but not by pressing or forcing it. I want them to feel comfortable sharing as much about their lives as they want to with me and feel totally safe doing it. From there, I get a sense of who they are. Then we get to work, and we get things done. I know what our timelines and tasks are, but I honestly believe the reason we get so much done is because they know I care enough about them to let them go or to help them if they need help. I trust them. I challenge them, equip them and empower them to do what they need to do.
Being a model of authentic care
At The Global Leadership Network, we have the passion of a team of human beings who love God and love the church, and want nothing more than for the church to reach its full potential.
My desire is to get even greater connection to the people we serve internally and externally. It’s about people being known. Hopefully I model this—the authentic care I’ve received from my mentors and other leaders is something I want more people to experience. Through these relationships I hope they can go back to their congregations and teams and model it and equip people to recognize the value in every single person they come into contact with.
Who is influencing your life? Are they helping you become who God created you to be?
If you’re a follower of Jesus, and you want to reflect the nature of Jesus, you are going to be a lover of people. That’s what I want others to see in me and through me, and then model to others, spreading more of Jesus’ light in the world.
My message to Summit host pastors, event managers and volunteers
I love you. I love how you have chosen to follow the call of God on your life. I love that you want to be a thread in the life of others to influence them, lead them, call the best out of them and create a stronger richer community of God.
Thank you enriching my life. Thank you for helping me recognize that God is moving in our land and He has used all of His children to influence me in what I get to do here.
My question for you
Who is influencing your life? Are they helping you become who God created you to be? I encourage you to reflect on your relationships and if you don’t currently recognize influencers, find one and invite them to know you. You won’t regret it.
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