For the Leader who feels discouraged and defeated

I just left a conference full of tired and discouraged women leaders. Yes, some attendees came full and encouraged, but I suspect, based on the tears I saw and conversations I overheard, they were in the minority. And for many of them, it wasn’t the demands of ministry that most fatigued and disheartened them. These precious women felt beaten down by the hurtful actions of others. Words that cut straight to their most wounded placed, feeding the lies that whispered, “You can’t do this. You’re insufficient. Too broken. Too flawed and too weak.”

I imagine you can relate. We’ve all found ourselves on the receiving end of careless yet painful statements and verbal attacks. In those moments, if we’re not anchored firmly in Christ’s love and grace, we’ll crumble.

Some time ago, I felt as if I was hit on every side. Significant health challenges. Loss of sleep. Major technology issues that interfered with my ability to complete important and time sensitive responsibilities, which, unfortunately, had recently increased. Relational difficulties. All of this triggered anxiety that, in turn, fueled my insomnia, which only further hindered my productivity. Then came what felt like the verbal assault that poked at some already bruised areas.

For a while, I slipped into a vortex of condemnation.

I felt like a buoy tossed into a raging sea, thrown about with every wave.

But then I sensed God asking me, “Who will you live to please? Whose voice will you allow to become loudest in your life?”

He was calling me to close my ears to everything and everyone else except for Him, to soak in His truth, and to rest momentarily in His protective embrace. It was in that quiet sacred place that His voice, previously muted by my insecurities, became clearer. He told me I wasn’t insufficient or defected. In Him, I was holy, chosen, and adored. Flawed, oh my, yes, but also empowered and redeemed. Called by my Savior to growth, healing, and even in my broken state, to impact.

As God’s gentle Spirit nourished my hurting soul, I sensed Him saying, “I’m calling you to something beautiful.”

Our God of infinite beauty always brings the yielded heart beauty from their pain. Trusting this, I clung to that and deliberately surrendered to His will–even though I knew it led to a path of increased pain. But as I sat, quiet and yielded, filled and comforted by my God, I reflected upon the wounded people God was inviting me to reach. Those who were deeply hurting and aching to experience, through His flawed yet redeemed children, His love and grace.

Would I abandon those precious souls in self-obsession, in self-protection, or would I courageously keep stepping, in love?

Would I hold tight to the condemnation spoken over me or the truth of Christ coursing through me?

And would I lean on another leader who, at least temporarily, wasn’t slung about by a storm? Someone one step beyond me, someone who could uniquely speak encouragement to my bruised soul—because she’d been there and understood.

I knew I couldn’t stand firm on my own, and so I called in reinforcements. While I still fulfilled my responsibilities and met my deadlines, my world quickly narrowed to those who spoke life and strength into my soul. I carved out time in other places to increase time for Jesus, my husband, and Spirit-filled women who could hear my struggle, with compassion, but also with their gaze focused entirely on Christ. Ladies who recognized His call on my life, not just for ministry, but for personal wholeness, growth, and freedom.

You see, a lot of people can speak truth. And a lot of people can share love. The one who consistently reveals both is a priceless jewel. A gift sent from Christ to our weary souls.

And so, those were the individuals to whom I reached out, even if that meant allowing some things to slip, and trusting God in that. Living with opened hands, unburdened shoulders, a purified and filled heart, and a mind set on truth.

That is the only way to live—and love—freely.

Notice what Paul says in Philippians 2:1:

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

“Therefore,” he wrote, pointing back to what he wrote regarding suffering for Christ. He wanted them, and by extension, us, to remember, even when hurled into a violent and choppy sea, we are still held firm by grace. Encouraged and united, and comforted by His tender, compassionate love (v. 1).

This understanding helps shift our focus off of the turmoil around us, and perhaps even raging within, and onto the God who remains sovereign over the storm.  

The God who invites us to cling to Him, surrender to Him, and to rest in Him, knowing He will always reveal our next step. He’ll teach us how to experience His strength when our knees feel ready to give way, resting in His inconceivable grace.

A grace that says:

Your sins are forgiven, their power broken.

Your weaknesses compensated for.

Your healing and growth, a process initiated, sustained, and one day fulfilled, by the One who bled and died to set us free.

A grace that anchors us so securely in Him, we can then become an anchor for others.

Let’s talk about this! When are you most tempted to yield to your feelings of insufficiency? How do you respond when you feel under attack? What are some ways you intentionally anchor yourself in Christ’s love and grace? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and make sure to connect with me on Facebook, Amazon, and Instagram.

Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131 Faith Over Fear

You may have heard someone say something to the effect of, “God will use your pain in your future ministry.” This doesn’t necessarily mean He will ask you to launch an organization or create a program within your social sphere or community, although He may. Rather, this stems from God’s promise to use you to comfort others with the same comfort He’s shown. You, whether that means listening with understanding as someone shares their hurts and struggles or walking beside someone seeking increased freedom. We hope today’s episode speaks to individuals in one of two places in their healing journey: 1) For those still in the thick of pain, hold tight to this—God longs to bring beauty from your pain by first healing you then giving you the strength and desire to help others heal. 2) For those who have experienced some degree of healing, prayerfully consider if God is asking you to walk alongside someone who is hurting or living enslaved. And finally, we hope this episode opens conversation on toxic versus healthy relationships.(Scroll down to find the group discussion questions)Find Carolyn Whitney and her ministry: Kelly Campbell and Wholly Loved, at:https://www.WhollyLoved.comFind Wholly Loved Ministries at:WhollyLoved.comJoin the private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group: the Private Wholly Loved Community Group (also on Facebook): Discussion Questions:1.What resonated with you most in this episode?2.Have you ever felt like you were living in a "glass house" where things looked good from the outside but where circumstances or emotions felt chaotic, unpredictable, or unsafe, or uncertain? 3.When going through challenging or painful circumstances, how easily do you seek support from others, and what do you think impacts this?4.How would you describe the general health of your support system, and why would you describe it this way?5.What are some ways we can walk with family and friends through their mental health battles while still maintaining healthy boundaries for ourselves (and our children)?6.How can healthy connections with others help one heal from traumatic experiences7.What are some important steps to take when faced with a big transition in your life?8.What is one action step God might be wanting you to take as a result of listening to this episode?
  1. Freed From Toxic Relationships to Help Others Break Free (with Carolyn Whitney) – Ep. 131
  2. Thankfulness in Changing Seasons – Ep. 130
  3. Fighting Anxiety and Fear Through Praise (with Becky Harling) – Ep. 129
  4. When Self-Reliance Leads to Addiction (with Carol McCracken) – Ep. 128
  5. Breaking Free from Generational Dysfunction (with Gina Birkemeier) – Ep. 127

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  1. Good pep talk, Jenifer. Remember not to expect more of yourself than God expects of you. . .and the main thing He expects is surrender, availability, and obedience.

    He may not always use us the same way, but He still uses us. Love and prayers, Sister!


    Jena Fellers

    Author, Inspirational Speaker, and co- Pastor

    Connect with me. . . Blog Facebook Twitter YouTube

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