Your Love is All Around

Yesterday, a friend asked me, “why are you always happy?” The song lyrics, “everywhere I look, your love is all around,” came immediately to mind. I can be genuinely happy when I focus on how much I have to be grateful for.

Sometimes, I’m overwhelmed by the beauty of nature or the thoughtfulness of a friend and it brings a smile to my face. Sometimes, I have to search for a silver lining around an otherwise dark cloud, but the confidence that God’s love permeates every situation allows me to be genuinely joyful.

I hope that this talent God has given me will bring joy to the sorrowful and lift the spirits of the despairing. Life does dish out a lot of lemons, to some more than others, but joy is sometimes sweetest when life is sour.

Listen to Understand

In every organization, people have similarities and differences. It is important  for a leader to be aware of the perspectives and backgrounds of their followers. One way to do so is to consider and verbally ask three questions when getting to know a group: “How am I like everyone else here? How am I like some people here? How am I like no one else here?” These questions help cover all the bases when first meeting a group.

Another way to understand and show respect to others is by studying the history of their culture and by taking time to get to know their individual story. By doing so, you not only foster loyalty in the individual, but you also get to know their strengths and weaknesses and can more effectively delegate duties to improve the group. The leader also benefits from hearing someone’s story. The more they listen, the more they understand.

“Seek first to understand, then to be understood” (Covey, 1989). Communication is already complex; it is doubly so when participants fail to listen and understand what the other is saying.



  1. Covey, S. (1989). The seven habits of highly successful people. Fireside/Simon & Schuster.
  2. Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2009). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. John Wiley & Sons.


United, We Stand

Over these past few months, I’ve had multiple opportunities to practice conflict resolution. Perkins discusses multiple methods for accomplishing it, but still only one really works. Jesus taught this strategy~private and personal confrontation followed by an apology and forgiveness.

“Conflict is not so much an occasional speed bump as it is the intermittent center-lane stripes that come in rapid succession” (Perkins, 2000). It does no good to ignore or avoid conflict, because it is part of life and healthy relationships. Instead, learning how to deal with it when it happens actually strengthens relationships.

My roommate has taught me a lot about conflict resolution. Because of our mutual respect and goodwill for each other, we realize how selfish it is to hold on to a grudge or to anger. We have created a pattern of apologizing and forgiving that gives us confidence in the strength of our relationship and practice in confrontation with others.

In a team environment, anger and passive-aggressiveness is terribly destructive, while open communication builds trust and integrity.



  1. Perkins, B. (2000). Awaken the leader within. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House.

Popularity vs. Respect

Leadership, in one sense, is a balance between being likable and respected for your integrity. The disparity between these extremes is exaggerated when the ethical standards of the leader and followers are at odds. To be fully “liked” by their followers, a leader would have to change his standards to match theirs.

On the other hand, when an ethical corporate culture exists, everyone is on the same level and empowered to keep each other accountable. In such a situation, a leader is respected if he takes the high road when facing an ethical crossroads.

Like a common vision unites the efforts of a team, a common set of values will guide them in constructive dialogue and decision-making. A leader can be both respected and liked when the ethical standards are high for every member of the group.



  1. Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2009). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. John Wiley & Sons.

Do What’s Right

“Right decisions are right – whether they are popular or not.”


Reading Awaken the Leader Within by Bill Perkins made it three times I’d heard this admonishment this week. The first time was during a discussion about integrity. Someone brought up the point that integrity often means going the way you know is right even when society or your peers all go the other way.

The second time happened while I was reading Continue reading “Do What’s Right”

Tapestry of Grace

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a struggle. Some seem more grand or dramatic than another’s, but all are important, unique, and inspiring.

When you first look at a person, a natural prejudiced forms based on how they talk, what they wear, or the circumstances in which you meet. Often, your hasty judgement gives an incomplete assessment of someone’s character.

Over the first few weeks of leadership class, I got to hear a but of the stories of each of my class-mates. I realized that many of my assumptions were incorrect. Their stories helped me interpret their actions and opinions shared in class. I listen to them now with their stories in mind.

Many of them had a significant life struggle that they shared, but they also included how they made it through and the people or activities that helped them. Every story ended up being inspirational because you could clearly see God at work, shaping them into who they are now. Everything happens for a reason as God weaves our lives into a tapestry of grace.


To dive deeper into the topic of story, watch this captivating TED Talk on the Danger of a Single Story:

Comprehending the Incomprehensible

“He dwells (all of Him dwells) within the seed of the smallest flower and is not cramped: Deep Heaven is inside Him who is inside the seed and does not distend Him. Blessed be He!”  -C.S. Lewis, Perelandra

I spent a weekend, once, at a Christian astronomy conference learning about the stars, galaxies, and supernovas that sparkle in our night sky. I learned how small Earth is in this infinite universe and how puny I was on this grand planet. My mind was stretched, trying to comprehend the vastness of space. Larger and larger objects were introduced, first compared to the Earth, then the sun, then our solar system, then our galaxy… Soon, earth was no longer even a pixel on the screen.

On the last day of the conference, Continue reading “Comprehending the Incomprehensible”

Search Me, Lord

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me… Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely.”    ~Psalm 139

     The idea of God’s omnipotence on a personal level as intimate as is described in the verse above is…scary at first. I run on the assumption that my affairs are my own–that my best and worst thoughts are known only to me. Perhaps I share a bit of vulnerability with close friends, but I present my best side to the public.

     Then comes God. Continue reading “Search Me, Lord”


While I’m often placed in leadership roles by default when no one else steps up, I resonate deeply with the idea of good followership. In most cases, I would rather have someone else ~ a good leader ~ in the official role while I do my best to be a support and an enabler.

A classic example of this followership role, and one I aspire to emulate, is the Proverbs 31 woman. In this case, the leader is the husband, who we know sits with the elders of the land and is known by people. The woman is neither idle, nor a mindless follower of her successful spouse, but rather a leader in her own right as an industrious homemaker and woman of God.

If we test her against Latour and Rast’s (2004) follower competency chart, I imagine we would find her to be a prime example of a competent leader-follower. After all, she is loyal to her family, functions well as a team-member, thinks independently, and is her own type of leader.


Update 4/26/17:
Over the course of the leadership minor, I have developed my confidence as a leader. Today, I embrace official leadership roles and feel prepared to deal with whatever situation might arise. Previously, I could only manage a follower role because I had a tendency to over-commit. As a college senior, my time management skills and ability to set realistic expectations for myself have significantly improved.

It’s exciting to re-read my first post within the leadership minor and to realize just how much I’ve learned.



  1. Komives, S. R., Lucas, N., & McMahon, T. R. (2009). Exploring leadership: For college students who want to make a difference. John Wiley & Sons.

About Foundations of Leadership

This class was my introduction to the Leadership Minor. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with the entire minor, but I had space in my schedule and it sounded interesting. I was introduced to the philosophy of leadership of this program by Ann Youssef, a graduate of the minor and professor for this class.

Our first assignment was a reflection on the events and the people who had influenced our lives up to that point. My Leadership Development Timeline was the presentation I shared in class. I valued this assignment because it gave me a chance to reflect on my story and share it with others. As I mentioned in my post, Tapestry of Grace it was an honor to hear others’ stories and learn what experiences have formed their personalities and perspectives.

My Foundations of Leadership class, Spring 2016, with Ann Youssef

Another assignment that we worked on was a Whole Person Development plan according to the Holistic Formation model, when we set twelve goals for our personal improvement over the course of the semester. During our check-ins half-way through the semester and at the end, we measured our progress and reviewed action plans that could keep us on track.

In my Generations Of Leadership paper, I analyzed how the reciprocal leadership model connected with a pop culture team dynamic. My team of choice: The Avengers.

In this class, I learned effective interpersonal and group leadership methods and studied the Christian implications of leadership based on Christ’s example (course syllabus, 2016). It was the first step in the development of my personal leadership philosophy.


Our book list for this class was as follows:
Exploring Leadership: For College Students Who Want to Make a Difference by Susan Komives, N. Lucas, & T. R. McMahon (2013) 3rd Edition
Awaken the Leader Within by Bill Perkins (2002)