When the Leader is Not Okay Part 2

Millions of leaders go through severe times of discouragement, depression and even consider suicide. This past week, Andrew Stoecklein of Inland Hills Church in Chino, CA took his own life, having faced severe depression and anxiety for years. He is one of a growing number of leaders who have made this choice.  We are sad. But what do we DO? Why do leaders so often not open up about what they are facing in this regard, and what do we DO about it?

Host: Judi Cotignola

Web: pfwomen.com

Email: slp@penflorida.org

An Interview with Jinny Force

Today it’s my privilege to interview a true “force” to be reckoned with… Jinny Force —  wife of our district youth director, Al Force. Get to know this beautiful woman of God…

Deanna: Where were you born?

Jinny: I was born on MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. So, yes, I’m a native Floridian!

Deanna: And where did you grow up?

Jinny: Because my parents were military brats, they were nomadic in my younger years. I lived in Bentonville, Arkansas (home of Wal-Mart), Crossville and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Madeira Beach, Palm Beach Shores, and Palm Coast, Florida. My pre-teen and teen years were spent in, where I consider home, Ormond Beach.

Deanna: What was your family like, growing up?

Jinny: My family was the all-American family. Dad worked seven days a week; Mom worked 5. We had a lot, but something was missing. Just before I entered first grade, my dad’s new job took us to Crossville, Tennessee, and his new boss, who was a pastor of a church in his spare time. Dad felt obligated to go to the church because he worked for Pastor Bowen. My parents gave their lives to Jesus and never looked back, getting filled with the Holy Spirit, and making church a priority for our family. My dad loved being a Royal Ranger commander, and Mom led Missionettes (Girls Ministries). Our lives changed drastically from my parent’s encounter with God.

Deanna: When did you say “YES” to Jesus? How did you come to know Him?

Jinny: Growing up in church, I went to the altar a few times, but I truly didn’t experience God for myself until I was 17 years old. I was one of those crazy church kids, passing notes on the back pew, and driving the youth pastor crazy. Before I knew it, I was tangled up in sin and involved in destructive life patterns. I was desperate for something, and I found that through the ministry of Teen Challenge. I said “Yes” to Jesus, not really sure I was ready, but He began a miraculous work in me. Jesus loved me at a time in my life when I felt unlovable. Through the ministry of Teen Challenge, I was discipled and taught God’s Word. I remember the day God filled me with His Holy Spirit, and I spoke in tongues for the first time. We were invited to Missionettes Retreat at Masterpiece Gardens, and I went to the altar so hungry for God. He filled me with His explosive power! I never looked back. This experience with God is a huge reason why I am passionate about PFYouth Camp at Masterpiece Gardens every summer. Our students need God’s power at work in them to reach their world for Christ.

Deanna: Did you always feel that you would be a minister’s wife?

Jinny: I saw myself single, ministering to orphans on the mission field. When Al and I fell in love, I was sure to tell him I was going to Southeastern the next fall to study world missions. For some reason, he changed his plans to go to Southeastern, too (wink, wink). I often pray about the dream I had as a young woman for foreign missions, and God has promised me that a dream delayed is not a dream denied. I love the fact that our work with PFYouth includes missions through AIM trips and Speed the Light. I know God doesn’t give dreams to snatch them away. In the Bible, Joseph had a dream given to him from the Lord. However, life took him to places where it seemed he was moving farther away from his dream with every step. In reality, each step was a part of God’s elaborate plan to bring salvation to His chosen people through Joseph’s dream. If God had revealed to Joseph His entire plan, step by step, Joseph may have walked away from it. As I obey God, following Him wherever He leads, my dreams will become reality in a greater way than I could have ever made it happen on my own.

Deanna: How did you meet Al?

Jinny: After Teen Challenge, I returned to my home church and was that person who was at the church every time the doors were open. My pastor and youth pastor gave me incredible opportunities to grow in the Lord. One of those opportunities was a Sunday School class I taught for 4 year olds. The class had 4-6 children in it, but grew quickly to 20-30 kids. Al had just recently given his life to Jesus. He lived in my neighborhood, and gave me a ride to church occasionally. He joined in to help me with the 4 year olds class. Before we knew it, the sparks were flying! At Thanksgiving time, the church held a banquet for Sunday School teachers. My dad suggested I ask Al to go with me to the banquet since he was helping me in the class. I told my dad that I wasn’t the kind of girl who asked guys out…guys asked me. I asked anyway!

Deanna: Can you share with us a bit about your dating and engagement?

Jinny: Al and I were engaged within 3 months of dating and were engaged for a year. In the beginning of our engagement, we were both headed to Southeastern to seek the Lord’s will for ministry. We were each packed up and ready to go. The day before we were scheduled to move into the dorms, I felt the Holy Spirit leading me to pray about our future. As I prayed, I knew God was telling me to stay home, get a job, and work for the year. This didn’t make me happy…I had plans…I was called to ministry just as much as Al was! My father had suffered a severe heart attack, and was in very poor health. Financially, he was unable to help with my tuition. My plan was to take out loans for everything. As I prayed that day, I knew this was no way to start a marriage. God was showing me that–together–Al and I were going to make an impact for His kingdom in a greater way than we could individually. The next day, Al left for Southeastern, and I started a job with the State Attorney’s office in Daytona Beach. I saved up for our wedding and the beginning of our new life together.

Deanna: And where did you get married?

Jinny: On July 28, 1990, we were married at Calvary Christian Center in Ormond Beach. Our wedding took place in the gym, which then was referred to as the sanctuasium. The wedding was followed by a reception in the fellowship hall where I had to stop my grandmother from adding champagne to the punch fountain.

Deanna: Can you tell us a bit about your children?

Jinny: Our lives have been incredibly blessed with our boys: Al and Jake. After 9 years of marriage, a devastating miscarriage, and 6 ½ years of trying to conceive a child, God performed a miracle. We had been through every fertility test, and the specialist had described the surgery that might have results, but wasn’t covered under insurance. With no promise it would work and the financial limitations of a youth pastor’s salary, we were very discouraged. We went on a missions trip to El Salvador, working with local doctors in a medical clinic. They asked to pray for me. Seven weeks after returning home, I felt horrible. My best friend told me that was how she felt when she found she was pregnant. I took a pregnancy test and cried with joy at the positive result. God is so good! Our sons love being PK’s and both feel God has called them to ministry.

Deanna: Where have you and Al served in ministry together?

Jinny: We were youth pastors at Jacksonville Oceanway Assembly of God for 10 years, 1993-2003 with Pastor Danny and VonNell Baggett. The Baggetts were fundamental in training us for ministry. They took a chance on a really young, really inexperienced youth ministry couple. We learned so much through the ups and downs of those first 10 years. In 2003, God spoke very clearly to me and Al, separately, during a church service that we were to move back to our home town and serve in our home church. So we moved home to Ormond Beach and became Pastor Jim and Dawn Raley’s youth pastors. It was wonderful being home, working with people we had such history with. Of course, the Raleys’ passion for serving God and people is still a constant source of inspiration for us. In 2010, we moved to Lakeland to work for Pastor Terry and Athena Raburn at the district office as District Youth Directors. We absolutely love working with the Raburns and the district staff, who are all some of the most servant-hearted, kingdom-minded people we’ve had the privilege of knowing.

Deanna: What is the thing you like best about serving the youth of PenFlorida?

Jinny: Al and I live in a perpetual state of joy at what we get to do. We work with pastors, youth pastors and leaders, helping them grow and facilitate student ministry in their churches. We creatively organize and inspire students through life-changing events such as Youth Camp, Fine Arts, Fusion, PK Retreat, Speed the Light, and Bible Quiz. We take students and leaders on foreign missions trips and encourage them to begin giving to missions in their teens through Speed the Light. We also love to build community among youth pastors, leaders, and students, showing them the church is so much bigger than just themselves or their local assembly. Every bit of this is so exciting and fun!

Deanna:  What was the most surprising thing for you, about being a minister’s wife?

Jinny: The fact that loving people and giving your life to serve them doesn’t mean they’re not going to hurt you. In ministry, if we’re doing it right, we make ourselves vulnerable to being hurt. We have to learn to place all those hurts at the feet of Jesus and keep going, shrugging off disappointment, hurt, and unmet expectations. When we keep moving forward and don’t allow hurt to root itself in our spirits, we walk the walk of Jesus and share in His glory.

Deanna:  If you could give just one piece of advice to a brand new minister’s wife, what would it be?

Jinny: Be yourself. God made you in His image for a unique purpose. He creatively and purposefully gave you gifts and insight that are specific to you. Never doubt the power of your uniqueness. Don’t try to imitate and compare yourself to others…it’s a trap that will steal your joy and cause you to never quite measure up.

Also, just love Jesus! Make loving God your priority and everything else just falls into place. Don’t pursue ministry like its a career…let Him open doors that no man can shut.

Deanna: What would you say are your greatest passions in life?

Jinny: Loving God and loving my family.

Deanna: What do you like to do for fun?

Jinny: I love cooking and entertaining people. I can throw a dinner party together in a couple hours, but sometimes I spend days planning them. I love decorating my home, too. I’m a serious shopper–I may get lost driving somewhere, but I know my way around every great mall in Florida.

Deanna: Favorite vacation spot?

Jinny: Because our schedule is so crazy, we are prone to mini vacays of 3-4 days. Our fallbacks are the Sarasota area beaches, Orlando theme parks and St. Augustine. We go to those places multiple times a year.

Deanna: Favorite clothing store?

Jinny: H&M is our one stop. They have something for everyone in the family, the fashions are the latest, and it’s cheap.

Deanna: Favorite home store?

Jinny: As we travel through the state, I go to every Home Goods and West Elm I can find.

Deanna: What is your favorite color?

Jinny: Aqua…every true Floridian’s favorite.

Deanna: What is your favorite food?

Jinny: The truth is, I like everything…UGH. And, I have coffee running through my veins.

Deanna: What is your favorite TV shows?

Jinny: HGTV is my go-to.

Deanna: Reality TV shows…love them or hate them?

Jinny: I like Duck Dynasty but really dislike shows where they have to bleep out every other word.

Deanna: Favorite movies?

Jinny: Right now, my favorite is The Book Thief. I will NEVER change the channel if Pride and Prejudice is on. I love period and historical films with a passion.

Deanna: What genre of music do you listen to?

Jinny: Mostly praise and worship, but in youth ministry you have to have a serious love of hip hop.

Deanna: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today?

Jinny: I want to encourage everyone out there to remember that life is too short for us to major in the minors. We have to evaluate our lives on a regular basis and discover what we are majoring in. Make sure you’re putting first what’s most important. If we live for the unimportant, we’re wasting our time. Money and ego are minor in the sphere of eternity. Leaving a legacy of loving Jesus and sharing His love with others is major!

An Interview with Kathy Powell

Today it’s my privilege to interview Kathy Powell —  daughter of God, wife, mother and minister. Kathy is the wife of our Pen Florida District Council Secretary, Rev. Steve Powell.  Get to know this precious lady. ~Deanna

Deanna: Kathy, it’s such an honor to have you share with us today.  Let’s start with where it all began. Where were you born?

Kathy: Chicago, Illinois

Deanna: And where did you grow up?

Kathy: The inner city of Chicago.

Deanna: What was your family like, growing up?

Kathy: I am the oldest of 4 girls. I am a full blooded, 100% Slovak. Both my parents are full Slovak.  My mom came to the states from Czechoslovakia when she was 3 years old. I was raised very European. My parents are born again Christians and I’ve been blessed with a Godly heritage. We attended the Stone Church in Chicago, where my dad was a board member.  We never missed a church service or revival service and it seemed like we lived at church. When the church doors were open, we were there.  God, church and music were vital components to our home.

Deanna: How did you come to know Jesus?

Kathy: I really don’t remember. I accepted Him as a very little girl. I don’t have an actual date. I’ve always loved the Lord, but my true life changing encounter with the Lord was while in high school and one Sunday my pastor asked those that felt called into full time ministry to come to the altar.  I didn’t know what I was going to do in the ministry but I knew I would be a minister’s wife.

Deanna: How did you meet your husband?

Kathy: Central Bible College in Springfield, Missouri.   My roommate knew him and we all hung around together.

Deanna: Can you share with us a bit about your dating and engagement?

Kathy:  Steve and I were both dating someone else from our home churches.  We met each other through my college roommate and were all friends for 1 year. Then the ones we each were both dating had finally told us they never felt called into full time ministry so we broke up with them. (unbeknown to either one of us) After our heartbreaks were over, we started dating each other for 1 year and then became engaged for 1 year. We knew each other for 3 years before we got married.

Deanna: And where did you get married?

Kathy: Stone Church in Chicago, Illinois

Deanna: What is married life like, today?

Kathy: After 40 years I am still in love with my husband and enjoy doing things with him. I want to grow old with him.  I volunteer at his office just to be near him. Usually, Friday night is date night going to Ybor City for dinner and a movie.

Deanna: That is wonderful and an example for us all. Can you tell us a bit about your children and grandchildren?

Kathy: 3 children and 4 grandchildren. Taylor is 9 and Drew is 6 and they live in Indianapolis. Landon is 5 and lives in Lakeland and Bryson is 3 and lives in Heaven.  They are the love of my life. Thank the Lord for Face Time!  You noticed I really didn’t talk much about my 3 kids because they are over shadowed by my grands, now.

Deanna: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as a mom?

Kathy: Many things!

  1. When it comes to your children, it’s not how you start the race, it’s how you finish your race.
  2. As a mom, if your knees aren’t calloused, you may need to pray more.
  3. The only thing I can take to heaven with me is my family.

Deanna: What was your first ministry assignment together with your husband?

Kathy: Associate/Youth pastors in Morris, Illinois for 2 years.

Deanna: And what other ministry assignments did you have before coming to the district office?

Kathy: We pastored 2 of the greatest churches in the nation each one for 10 years: First Assembly of God in Hammond, Indiana and Bethel Temple Assembly of God in Tampa, Florida.

Deanna:  What was the most surprising thing for you, about being a minister’s wife?

Kathy:

  1. Can be very lonely. That’s why Steve is my very best friend.
  2. How much people look up to me as an example.  I remind them that I do the things I do not because I’m in the ministry but I do what I do because first, I love the Lord and am a Christian and want to serve.
  3. How busy you are. It’s not a 9-5 job. You must always be protective of your time for God, self and family and keep a healthy balance between family and ministry.

Deanna:  If you could give just one piece of advice to a brand new minister’s wife, what would it be?

Kathy: Be yourself and NO ONE ELSE! Be what God created YOU to be. Be confident in your gifts, talents and abilities and be an example of Christ.

Deanna: What do you like to do for fun?

Kathy: Garage Sales, being with family and relaxing on the beach listening to the crashing waves.

Deanna: Are you a morning or a night person?

Kathy: I’m a morning person and love to watch the sunrise.

Deanna: What is your favorite color?

Kathy: I don’t have one. I pretty much love all colors, but I can tell you what color I don’t like and that is the color orange.

Deanna:  What is your favorite food?

Kathy: Slovak food which would be Polish sausage, dumplings, haluski, cabbage rolls, pierogies, poppyseed cake and sauerkraut soup.

Deanna: What’s your favorite dessert?

Kathy: Anything coconut!

Deanna: What is your favorite TV show?

Kathy: I don’t watch much TV.  But I love The Voice, Call the Midwife and Downton Abbey.

Deanna: Do you enjoy hospitality?

Kathy: I love to entertain and throw a party and love watching it grow into a production. Decorating is one of my passions, whether it’s a party or home decor. .I love Paula Deen and cooking. Even though I barely cook anymore (‘cause we’re never home) when I do get the chance, I go all out.

Deanna: What are some of your “favorites” in life?

Kathy: I love BGMC, singing, playing the piano, Ballroom dancing, cruising, hydrangeas, sewing, redecorating, cooking and even cleaning. I enjoy reading – favorites are the Bible, Nicholas Sparks, The Shack, Redeeming Love, mystery novels; As far as music – Jazz, Blues, Big Band; Warm and Fuzzy movies like Hallmark Channel Stuff @ Christmas Time, White Christmas. And…I believe a girl can never have enough BLING BLING and shoes!

Deanna: Do you collect anything?

Kathy: Precious Moments, Rockwell plates and Nutcrackers. I love old vintage things and antiques. Garage sales are the best. One of these days, my dad and I will write a book on “Garage Sales for Dummies.”

Deanna: What is one of your greatest dreams?

Kathy: I dream about growing old and being surrounded by my family and friends. They have all been a blessing to me in ways they will never know.

Deanna: Tell us some things people may not guess, about you…

Kathy: I can still play the accordion. I modeled clothes for Montgomery Ward. I am a spelunker and would do it again if I was a few years younger.  I love skydiving and just did that with my daughter 3 years ago. I also love to Indian arm wrestle. I like even more when I win.

Deanna: Wow!!. What don’t you do? Amazing! I want you to bring the accordion in to the district office one day. Just sayin’! Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today?

Kathy: I am an Assembly of God credentialed licensed minister and I love the word of God, but get frustrated that I don’t read it more than I do. My favorite Bible verses are:  Joshua 1:9, Proverbs 17:22, Jeremiah 33:3

  1. Favorite Chapter in the Bible: James 1
  2. Whenever you do something – do it well and first rate!
  3. I thank God for the struggles in life because I know there’s life in the struggles.
  4. When we realize ‘we can’t’, that’s when ‘God can’.
  5. When you feel you’re drowning and need help, don’t wait. Seek counsel.
  6. “I would rather be a ‘no body’ in the world, but be a ‘somebody’ to my kids.” Man in the Mirror by Patrick Morley
  7. “Preach the Gospel as much as possible BUT if necessary – use words.” Frances of Assisi
  8. What happens “in you” is better than what happens “to you”.
  9. Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever. “Lance Armstrong”

Deanna: Priceless! Wonderful words of wisdom. Thank you so much, Kathy, for sharing with us today. You are so appreciated and loved.

When Registration Makes You Want to Pull Your Hair Out!

Out of breath and wheeling my suitcase to the front desk at the hotel, I pulled the confirmation papers out of my purse to prepare to check in. It was the Pen Florida Women’s Fall Breakaway a few years ago and as our group leader, I was preparing to get the room keys for the 40 or so ladies that I had brought with me from our church.

Standing next to me in line was a leader from another church and we talked for a few moments about how excited we were about the conference. “I’m so glad you’re here!” I said. “I know it takes a lot to get your ladies registered, but here you are!”

“Oh, no…it actually took me absolutely nothing to register them,” she said. “I didn’t do registration this year. We’re all adults. I told them registration was on their own. I decided not to go through the frustration of  organizing a group from the church anymore. If anybody from our church wants to come, they can handle it on their own.”

“Oh…okay…” I said haltingly. “And how many are here with you?”

“Well, just two of us. It’s just myself and one other lady from the church…” she said. “But that’s okay. God has here who he wants here this year.”

Okaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay. [Face palm.]

Let’s talk, gals.

Let me say right up front that for those of you who are pastors’ wives or women’s ministries leaders, I know the road you walk. I’ve been doing this for 27 years and I’m STILL doing it. (I’m still a pastor’s wife and leader in the local church.) I realize how much effort it takes to be the one handling registration.

A few days ago I asked for a response on Facebook from pastors’ wives and women’s ministries leaders about what their frustrations are regarding registering women for conferences in general.

The responses

  • “They complain about money.”
  • “They say they have so many things going on…”
  • “They don’t get back to to me by the deadline.”
  • “They have ‘Goldilocks Syndrome'”…
  • “Some complain that they don’t want to drive too far.”
  • “Others say they’d rather travel further away.”
  • “Some say there are too many activities on the conference agenda.”
  • “Others say there aren’t enough.”
  • “Everyone has different perspectives!”
  • “You can’t please them all…”
  • “They sign up, then back out at the last minute.”
  • “They sign up, back out, and expect you to find them a replacement.”

The registration person often “catches” all of these complaints and frustrations.

I get it!

I really do.

So, what do I want you to know?

First, I want you to know that we’re here for you. We in the PF Women’s office as well as our experienced team of reps stand ready to give you encouragement and wisdom on this. (As well as a safe place to rant, if needed. LOL) Just reach out. We’re here. And we’ll give you practical help to get your group here.

Email us at women@penflorida.org and we will help you as well as connect you with your rep.

What is the value in making THRIVE a priority?

  • When the time for service comes and I see my ladies gathered at the altar, tears streaming down, crying out to God – IT’S WORTH IT ALL!!
  • When a woman or girl is saved, filled, healed and changed, it’s worth ANYTHING I had to go through as a leader.
  • You can’t put a price tag on a changed life, nor is any investment of time and effort not worthwhile.
  • When a marriage is restored because of something life-changing a woman heard or experienced at the conference, it’s worth it.
  • When our group gathers around at the close of the conference and prays together in unity with strongholds broken — it’s worth it!
  • When they can’t stop talking about what happened at the conference for months or years afterwards IT’S WORTH IT.

I can identify with the leader who, when in the midst of handling the registration says, “I’m just not going to do registration again next year. I don’t need the frustration of having to organize.” I know, I really do.  I’m an organized person and sometimes the way people respond (or their lack of response) gets on my last nerve too.

BUT WAIT!!!

This is exactly how the enemy wants us to respond. Because he knows people’s very lives and destinies are at stake.

And yes, we can do “our own” church conference or retreat, but there’s something unique – something divine about going beyond ourselves…beyond “just us” and reaching out to other sisters in the body of Christ.  There’s something to be said for gathering with sister-churches and worshipping together.

Unless a leader in the local church cares enough to handle the group registration for a conference, not many from that church are going to come. And it’s possible nobody from your church will attend.

Will someone press beyond the challenges so that God-ordained breakthrough will happen in hearts and lives?

What miracles may not take place in a woman or girl’s life unless somebody takes responsibility to get them there?

Will someone miss out on what would have been the most critical moment of their life?

Will connections in their life take place that God has ordained for them?

It’s about LEADERSHIP.

John Maxwell says, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

It’s really true.

Your ladies are dependent upon your leadership.

Can a group of them go to THRIVE without your help?

Technically yes.

But is it likely? No.

It’s as simple as that.

Pastors’ wife, women’s ministries leader — your leadership is valued and critical.

Please know, we are praying for you.

We honor you.

In fact, we’re going to honor you personally right at the outset of THRIVE. Count on it.

And it WILL be worth it all, at the altars of THRIVE.

~Deanna