By: Carolyn Porterfield
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Passwords have become an integral part of our lives. They are designed to grant access and provide protection. We are encouraged to create “strong” passwords that are at least eight to ten characters and contain a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special symbols. You win the prize if you can remember all the passwords you use!
What passwords might be helpful to leaders? What could grant you access to potential leaders? Provide protection for the health and well-being of the staff or volunteers you lead? Guard unity against division? Think about these three.
A friend of mine has an uncanny “nose for talent.” She can be with a group of women for a few hours and discern who in the group has leadership potential. Then she spends much time and effort pouring into the ones who are eager to learn and grow. There is no telling how many women she has invested in over the years.
Who recognized your leadership potential? It was a seminary professor who saw something in me I did not. He became my mentor and guide without me realizing. He recommended me for a position I never would have applied for, coached me on how to do the interview, and then tutored me as I prepared to begin the new job!
After nine years in that job, I was offered a new position in another state. As I was saying my goodbyes, my boss said, “I was told that if I took a chance on you, I would not be disappointed, and I have not been.” The risk paid off!
Being a talent scout opens worlds of possibility for your organization, church, or business as well as the one who can grow under your mentorship. It has been my privilege to mentor women who have gone on to serve in strategic leadership positions.
How do you handle the situation when someone you lead has made a mistake? A useful password is “extend grace + patience.”
A staff member came to me with fear and trembling and more than a few tears. She had made a huge mistake that involved thousands of dollars that would negatively impact ministries that were to receive funding from our office. She was ready to write a check from her personal bank account to help cover the shortfall and probably had a resignation letter ready to send from her computer.
After she was able to calmly tell me what had happened, we began to look for ways to solve the problem that her mistake had caused. It took time and sacrifice on our part, but we were able to come up with a workable solution. We still had to tell some ministries about the financial shortfall, but the damage was not as bad as it first appeared.
Grace was extended to the staff member. The problem solving was clothed in patience. The mistake became a huge learning point for us with new checks and balances put in place to ensure it would not happen again.
By extending grace and practicing patience, the staff member regained her confidence and became an even more vital member of the team. Everyone makes mistakes, even you. Investing in the growth and well-being of an employee will reap rich dividends.
While reading Psalm 100 from Eugene Petersen’s The Message, this amazing insight jumped off the page in the first part of verse four: “Enter with the password: ‘Thank you!’”
Thank you. Two simple words that take us outside of ourselves to focus on another. The psalmist demonstrates that “thank you” is a good password for leaders. It opens access to our generous Father who lavishes us with His love. There is also something unifying about coming together with thankful hearts before the One who created us and gives us so many blessings.
In 1863 the United States was embroiled in a Civil War that was tearing the country apart and devasting families in both the North and the South. President Abraham Lincoln signed a proclamation asking the nation to pray that God would give His tender and loving care to a wounded nation in need of healing. He declared the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving. In 1870 the United States Congress made it an official national holiday.
Lincoln used the password “thank you” with the expectation of bringing people together who were deeply divided, people looking for hope in desperate times. Perhaps he understood that looking toward God with gratitude had deep potential for creating peace in ways that a war could not.
Our world today is not so different from Lincoln’s time. Brokenness and hopeless are twin companions to many. A pandemic changed our world forever. Too many lives are touched by needless violence. People suffer economic challenges. There is political unrest around the world and here at home in the United States.
Like the psalmist and President Lincoln, gratefully enter God’s presence and encourage others to do the same. We cannot lead well apart from Him.
Share The Passwords
We are told not to share our passwords with others because that can create serious security issues. Leadership passwords are the exception to that rule. Leaders show the way, set the tone, and have the power to build up or tear down. We need good, strong passwords to open access to potential leaders, help them grow and mature, and guard unity.
Three passwords have been shared with you. They are meant to cause you to reflect on your leadership and ways you can grow. Don’t keep them to yourself. Add your own leadership password to these and freely pass them along to others.
All leaders are in process and learn from one another. Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that iron sharpens iron. We are thankful that the Christian Latina Leadership Institute is a good place for that to happen.
Carolyn Porterfield serves on the Board of Directors for the Christian Latina Leadership Institute as well as being a faculty member. She finds great joy in helping women grow as leaders.