Lisa Hosler, President of Align Life Ministries, joins Larry Kreider from Dove International on his podcast to share her experiences in leadership. Listen as Lisa explains the meaning behind her ministry’s name, the pitfall of making comparisons, and why you should strive to change and grow as a leader.
Got any back pain these days? How about tightness in your neck or shoulders? Sure, we’re leaning into our computer screens every day, but are we also shouldering responsibilities on our own?
Two good friends – both ministry leaders – said the exact same thing to me recently: “I just need two solid weeks where I do nothing but sort through what I already have going on!” I can relate.
Speaker Eric Scalise shared this story: “I was at Williamsburg – the 17th century village in Virginia – and saw a pair of oxen yoked to a wagon, ambling through a side street. I noticed the bows under their necks were sized differently – one was really snug and the other was loose. I asked the wagon driver about it, and he replied, ‘We’ve got a strong old ox with a young ox, and we don’t want to injure the young one by giving him too much weight – so his bow fits loosely.’”
Eric went on to say, “If you can feel the burden of your responsibilities, then you’re carrying the load – not God.”
So my question for you today is, “To what extent are your leadership responsibilities weighing you down right now – in this moment?”
Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. His clear message is that He wants us to walk so closely with Him that we experience His strength carrying our burdens to the point that they become light.
1. Feel the load. Even as you’re reading this, pause long enough to discern from God how much responsibility you’re bearing on your own.
2. Ask for wisdom. Stay in a prayer posture, and ask God what He wants you to do about it.
3. Commit to it. Whatever God has shown you, commit to seeing it through. Jot it down, schedule it, make the changes.
Even youths get tired. Even strong, seasoned leaders get weary. God designed us that way so we could never be a one-man show. He’s the show. He’s the strength-giver and the glory-receiver. And most of all – He wants to do it all in an intimate relationship with us. Stay yoked to Jesus and experience His strength shouldering your responsibilities and His rest enveloping you.
“Stay yoked to Jesus and experience His strength shouldering your responsibilities and His rest enveloping you.”- Lisa Hosler
“Are you tired? Worn out? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.
I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG, paraphrased)
How do you lighten up when leadership responsibilities weigh down on you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.
If you had to boil down your deepest passion in ministry – the blazing flame God ignited in your heart years ago – what is it? Sure, you’re passionate about every aspect of the ministry, but what’s the core passion that burns brightest in your spirit? And how hot are the flames these days?
For me, it’s people coming into an authentic, thriving relationship with the Lord. When I started at our life-affirming ministry years ago, it was because I wanted people to know Jesus. I was glad we were a pro-life ministry, and I grew to become passionately pro-life. But the driving ache in my heart is for people to know and grow in Jesus.
In the past few blogs I’ve shared that God is rekindling a spirit of praise in me. As I’ve been intentionally and actively praising God day by day, God is increasingly magnified in my heart, and the passions of His heart are magnified in mine. God isn’t willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. While this has always been my core passion, its flames had waned somewhat. But – through praise – God has reignited His zeal for lost people in me.
We’re all human, and Jesus knows this. That’s why the Spirit directed Paul to pen these words in Romans 12:11. Let’s look at it in a couple of versions:
Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. (NIV)
Let your spirit be on fire, bubbling up and boiling over, as you serve the Lord. (The Voice)
Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. (The Message)
If we’re to be “on fire” and not “burn out,” we’ll need a source of fire. And we’ll need to be close to that source.
Hebrews 12:29 describes God as an all-consuming fire.
God wants to be our all-consuming passion. This happens as we engage with Him through the Word, prayer, praise, etc. As we interact with God, He puts His passion within us. Like fire, passion is contagious.
As God reignites your core passion, He’ll catch those around you on fire. The key is to stay close to Him, close to one another, and then follow His lead in acting on those passions on behalf of the people you’re serving.
As a leader, your highest calling is to stay close to your Source, your Leader, Jesus Christ. Sure, there are busy seasons and there are ebbs and flows in our relationship with God, But His constant invitation is, “Come away with Me.” Draw near to the All-Consuming Fire, and let His passions burn in and through you for the good of others and the glory of God.
“Draw near to the All-Consuming Fire, and let His passions burn in and through you for the good of others and the glory of God.”- Lisa Holser
In what ways does God keep the flame of His passions burning in you? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.
As a busy leader, is there anything you’re never too busy for? Maybe you’ve said to your assistant, “I’m never too busy to take a call from my spouse. No matter what I’m doing, you can interrupt me for that call.” The question is, is God in that category?
When my husband and I bought a small cottage on the Saint Lawrence Seaway, we were intrigued by the gargantuan freighters that went by – sometimes one a day, sometimes ten. As newbies, we dropped everything when one rumbled into view and gazed at its impressive size and structure. We thought seeing freighters might eventually become commonplace, but then our neighbor said, “You’ll never be too busy to watch a freighter go by.” He was right. Twenty years later, I still drop everything and gaze.
So again, the question – are we “never too busy” to drop everything and gaze at God? Are we regularly awed by Him? Does His praise fill our mouths?
In the midst of the busyness of this moment, let’s marvel at God through Scripture and song.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
“I am the LORD, and there is no other; besides Me there is no God.” (Isaiah 45:5)
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. (Isaiah 40:28)
All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. (John 1:3)
“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg5qDljEw7Q (How Great Is Our God; World Edition; featuring Chris Tomlin)
Unlike a freighter that’s here and gone, God is ever-present, always astounding, and ever-worthy of our attention. Let’s never be too busy to pause and reflect on Him throughout each day.
“Father, help us to drop everything to exalt You… more often. Help us to gaze… longer. Help us to marvel… more deeply. May we be captivated by You… again and again.”
In the midst of your busyness as a leader, what are some ways you stay connected to God? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.
Leaders are bottom line people – rightly concerned about the return on their investment of time and money. So what’s the ROI on praising God as a leader?
Over the past few weeks God has reignited my heart with praise. The impact on my spirit and soul is measurable. The cloud of concern regarding the busy fall season is gone. At times it felt like an overhead ledge was blocking my view of God. It’s gone too. As I praise God, the “sky of my mind” is open and clear and the view of God is stunning. I’m simultaneously filled with the greatness of God and freed to focus on work.
1. Presence. Psalm 22:3 tells us God is enthroned on our praises. He draws near. His presence becomes palpable. Just like Moses didn’t want to go into the Promised Land without God’s presence, we don’t want to forge ahead without it either.
2. Perspective. When we choose to actively praise God, He is magnified in our eyes. He becomes rightfully “larger” and our projects dwarf to their true size. And God provides wisdom to deal with them.
3. Peace. Just like the grandeur of the ocean or the Redwood Forests brings peace, the grandeur and character of God does as well. It’s better to be at the ocean than to see a picture. It’s better to be with God through praise than to rely on a memory.
4. Productivity. A mind captivated by God translates into a person able to tackle ministry projects with the presence, wisdom, strength, and joy of the Lord.
The best ROI on praising God is that God is praised. Because of who He is as Lord of lords, God is worthy of our praise regardless of any personal benefits we may receive. But because of who He is as Father, God wants to help us in every way He can. Spending time praising God is one of the best ROIs you’ll ever experience as a leader.
“Spending time praising God is one of the best ROIs you’ll ever experience as a leader.”- Lisa Hosler
I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Let’s invest a few minutes engaging with God through this song, Ever Be, by Aaron Shust. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XZDyMJhd4Bo
How does God bless you through praise? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.
As leaders, we like to be resolute. Firm. Forward-moving. So when we feel uncertain about an agreed-upon direction, it can be tempting to ignore it. But unpacking the unsettledness will pave the way for an even better future.
Years ago I became unsettled about a significant ministry decision we’d made months prior. I had two choices: 1) Remind myself why we made the decision in the first place and carry on, or 2) Delve into my doubts and see if God was laying out a new understanding. With God’s grace, I chose the latter. I wrestled down thoughts about waffling as a leader, prayed through my concerns about the decision, envisioned a new scenario, and talked to close associates. We agreed God was indeed giving us a new understanding.
1. Acknowledge it. As I’ve said, it’s tempting to squelch your doubts about a decision that’s already been made. Besides feeling like you’re wavering as a leader, you’re asking your team to invest time into rethinking it. But owning your uncertainty is the first step toward determining if it has merit.
2. Pray about it. Your unsettledness is coming from one of three sources – the Lord, the enemy, or your own self-doubt. As you talk with God about it, He’ll either quiet your concerns or confirm them.
3. Unpack it. Pull out pen and paper if needed, and begin to sort through your doubts. List them. Categorize them. Do whatever it takes to identify the sticking points. Doing this will pinpoint the main problems with your current direction.
4. Envision the new. Prayerfully contemplate a revised version of your current direction or perhaps a complete change of direction. The same God who stirred the issue in your spirit knows the pathway forward.
5. Seek counsel. Run your thoughts past trusted associates – a small, confidential focus group or a spiritual advisor for your ministry. Outside perspective will shed additional light on the new direction you’re discerning.
6. Garner your team’s input. As key shareholders, your leadership team and board will have the deepest understanding of both the current decision and the prospective new decision. Lay out your thoughts and listen closely to their responses. Through prayer and discussion, shape the new direction together.
If you’re the senior leader at your ministry, God will often entrust a burden of unsettledness to you. It’s His way of saying, “Hey, this thing is off a bit. Spend more time with Me and your team to find My way forward.”
At our ministry, we’ve learned to tune into each other’s unsettledness. Even though it can be frustrating when one of us raises a concern, we’ve learned to hit the pause button. More often than not, when we talk and pray about it God provides a course correction. We’ve learned when we’re feeling unsettled, it’s God’s way of prompting us to press in for His best.
“When you feel unsettled, it’s God’s way of prompting you to press in for His best.”- Lisa Hosler
How do you handle it when you’re feeling unsettled about a ministry decision you’re responsible for? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.
If you’re reading this in real time, it’s back-to-school time. For ministry leaders, in addition to a change in family schedules, autumn brings a change in ministry activities. And while fall may have a more obvious routine, its overall intensity can be greater than other seasons. So let’s find a focus from God.
This summer, God drew my attention to sunrises. As I rose early to watch them week by week, God heightened my awareness of His creativity in general. I found myself awakened to the brilliance of a dewdrop, the softness of the morning mist, the surround-sound of cicadas. In the process of savoring summer, I’ve savored God and experienced a steady enjoyment of His goodness.
At the outset of fall, God is highlighting the word “delight” in my spirit. “For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs” (Zephaniah 3:17). As ministry challenges ramp up, my stress level can escalate too. I’m like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, but my version is, “Banquets and deadlines and budgets, oh my!” Instead of stressing, God is inviting me to settle into His delight. I look forward to plumbing the depths of that word with Him.
1. Step away from the fray. Unless you prefer the 2 by 4 method – where God has to forcefully get your attention – choose to pull away from your busyness to be with your God.
“Choose to pull away from your busyness to be with your God.”- Lisa Hosler
2. Reflect on the past season. Talk with God about the past few weeks and months. Is there a theme that emerges? A lesson He’s been teaching you? A place you’ve been in the Word?
3. Ask God for His current focus for you. God may build on where you’ve been, or He may give you a brand new focus. Ask Him, and listen. He may not lay it on your heart in that moment, but keep your ear attuned to His Spirit.
4. Be intentional to follow through. When God prompted me to watch the sunrise, I set my alarm for 5:00 the next morning. When you sense a direction from God, commit to taking the next step – whether it involves a Bible study or a lifestyle change.
5. Plumb the depths. Keep pressing into the focus God’s given you. Knowing God, there’s a wealth of wisdom to mine on the topic. Stick with it until God moves you on.
6. Connect the dots. God often builds on past lessons and links seasons in our lives. Pay attention to how the current focus enhances your understanding of a prior lesson and enables you to progress in God.
7. Be alert for the next focus. God is the Master Teacher. He knows when you’re ready for the next lesson. He won’t overwhelm you, but He won’t underwhelm you either. Be an ever-ready student, always listening for His voice.
Finding a focus from God is like placing your foot on the next stepping stone. It’s the way to make spiritual progress as you walk with God. Whatever season you’re in, God is speaking. He’s laying out a firm path – through His Word and His Spirit – for you to move ahead on.
The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him.
What is God’s focus for you in this season? Feel free to share your thoughts in the Comment Section below.
A leader’s world can spin so fast there’s barely an opportunity to focus on God. But like Olympic divers who regularly orient themselves to the water so they can enter it splash-free – being intentional in our pursuit of God is essential to good leadership.
At our staff’s weekly Body of Christ time in early June, we read a blog that posed the question, “When did you last see the sunrise?” I couldn’t remember, so I decided to watch a sunrise a week through the summer. We coined the phrase “Savoring God and Summer,” and one of the ways we did that was by tuning into sunrises and sunsets. We took photos and shared them with each other. All summer long we experienced a mutual appreciation for God and His magnificent painting of the skies.
It culminated on a late August morning. We’d scouted out a prime location – a chapel overlooking a tree-filled valley ridged by a mountain – and prayed for a clear morning. One by one our cars entered the dusky parking lot, and we donned our cameras. There was laughter, awe, and camaraderie as we snapped away at the kaleidoscope sky. Afterwards, we reflected on God’s goodness over bacon and eggs before heading to work.
1. Receive God’s fresh instruction. God knows your world is spinning, and He also knows the specific way(s) He wants you to focus on Him in this season. Ask Him. He’ll speak to you as you quiet yourself to listen.
2. Feel the excitement of joining God in a new venture. When God nudges you to intentionally engage with Him in a fresh way, take it seriously. Wholeheartedly commit to it, and watch it unfold into tangible blessings in your life.
3. Experience its contagious nature. God sparked a desire in me to slow down and see the sunrise, and it became a wildfire of staffers savoring sunrises all summer long. A former staffer once said, “God is never just doing one thing at a time.” His goodness is contagious.
4. Reap lasting impact. As you and your staffers seek and experience God together, you’ll form enjoyable bonds of friendship that will enhance your working relationships and advance the ministry.
In the blur of ministry, it’s important to slow down and stay focused on what’s most important – God, and the people around you. Yes, you’re focused on the people you’re serving. But if you do that without continuously feasting with the Lord and your comrades, you’ll only have stale scraps to pass on.
Stay tuned to the fresh ways God wants you to encounter Him, and be intentional about following through on them. Invite your staff to participate. When you intentionally engage God with others, you’ll experience His exponential goodness and ministry advancement together.
“When you intentionally engage God with others, you’ll experience His exponential goodness and ministry advancement together.”- Lisa Hosler
Share a fresh way God’s led you and your team to intentionally engage with Him in the Comment Section below.