Deanna Shrodes on Life, Love, and Leadership

How long have you been leading?

I’ve been leading all my life, even if in an unofficial capacity. In a pack of kids at five years old, I was an influencer in the group saying, “Hey everybody, let’s go this way…”

How would you define your leadership style?

I’m passionate about team building. You can achieve greater things through a team. If you want to build something significant and lasting, it has to be through a team. You can accomplish some things on your own, but there are limitations. Because of this and other reasons, I choose to team build.  I’m a confident leader and thrive on finding the potential in others and helping them flourish.  On a broad spectrum, enjoy discovering and amplify the voices of others, especially up-and-coming leaders.   I get energized when I’m surrounded by the most talented people in the room.

On a practical level, my leadership style on a day-to-day basis could be described as organized with an attention to detail, but I don’t have a problem releasing projects to others and I don’t micromanage.  I want people around me who know what they’re doing and trust them to do it.

How will you determine what decisions to proceed with that may benefit some at the expense of others?

Prayer!   That is not a pat answer.  I am a person of prayer and value it above most anything else in my personal life or in the church.   Nothing great happens without prayer and no significant decision should ever be made without it.  I’m Pentecostal in practice not just in theory and pray in my prayer language every day – that the will of God be done in all situations.

How do you personally deal with conflict?

There isn’t a neat and tidy answer to this question for all situations. In general, I believe that dealing with things sooner rather than later is wisest. I also believe communication early, often and clearly is important.  It’s not just important to communicate something in a timely fashion —  it has to be clear to be effective.  As a leader you can get up and say a whole bunch of nothing.  You’ve communicated but not clearly, and therein lies the problem, many times. We can avoid some conflicts by being clearer in our communication up front.  Statistics tell us most people don’t really get something until they hear it seven times.  I believe in not only telling people something, but repeating it , and in different ways if they haven’t gotten the message accurately the first, second or third time.

In cases where a person is openly divisive, Matthew 18 is the rule. One of the benefits of building a strong team is that you can call on the team to help you resolve conflict, and utilize them in the guidelines given in Matthew 18. The Bible also says to  “mark those who cause division among you.”  I have had to mark a few people and allow the leadership to do what leaders should be set free to do – lead.

How do you get people to partner with you when you share a vision?

First I would calculate for myself if it was truly worthwhile.  I would not try to convince someone else to give or invest of themselves with a vision I am not fully committed to.  I can’t speak with any sense of passion about something I’m not personally invested in.  After making the decision for myself I would speak from my own experience of why I have decided to invest in whatever venture is on the table.  I would do that through a series of creative communications in whatever areas God led me to use – social media,  personal one on one meetings, messages at events, letters, etc. And, I would go first in sacrificing and set the example in giving. I don’t expect anyone to do what I’m not also willing to do.

How do you handle situations in leadership where people try to put obstacles in your way? Have you ever had someone try to sabotage your efforts and what did you do?

Yes, many times.  My daily prayer with everything and everyone including myself is this: “Lord, if it be of you – let it flourish. And if it is not of you, bring it to a halt.” I include myself and my efforts in this prayer. I just want God’s will. I pray that whatever is of Him would flourish and whatever is not of Him would not. The enemy has a plot, but God has a plan! When you are fully submitted to God and His will and His way, He fights for you. It’s not about God being on my side, it’s about me being on His. When you are on the Lord’s side, you will not fail. Stay close to Jesus, and let Him win for you. The battle truly is the Lord’s but we must be in the right position – close to Him under His protection and guidance.

For those leading a staff, what are things you believe are important in being a great leader/boss?

Lead the way by example. Don’t expect them to do anything you are unwilling to do. Make the sacrifices first before you ask them to. Care about them as a person first. Ask about their family. Listen. Love them. Be as generous as possible. Laugh together and have fun. Celebrate their accomplishments. Show appreciation. When you do all these things, people who are the right fit for your team will exceed expectations. Lead in such a way that anyone would wish they were on your team or had you for a boss.

What mistakes did you make earlier in your ministry or as a leader that you would advise other leaders not to make?

There are many, but these are a few…

First, if I had it to do over again, I’d take more time off.  Particularly in our former pastorate, I set the people up for a level of reliance on me that just wasn’t healthy.  I took so little time off and they were perfectly happy to let me burn out.  If I could go back and have a do-over I would not be personally unhealthy at the expense of the church.

Second, I would have realized that sometimes you win the smaller battles but lose the war.  I fought on a lot of things early on in ministry that were just stupid. Looking back I can’t believe some of the things I went to the wall for.

Third, I would have NEVER tried to talk someone into staying in the church when they wanted to leave. (When you talk them into staying they usually affect others in a negative way and take other people with them when they finally do leave.)

I could go on and on with what I would do over again, but these are just a few.

What are some of your favorite books that have impacted you as a leader?

Communicating for Change by Andy Stanley, Start with Why by Simon Sinek, Developing the Leader Within You by John Maxwell, Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge,  Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek, Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On by Stormie Omartian.

Where did you meet your husband and how long have you been married?

At the University of Valley Forge and we’ve been married twenty nine years.

Do you have children?

Yes, three. Dustin (26), Jordan (25) and Savanna (19)

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned as a mom?

Example is everything. “Do as I say, not as I do” doesn’t work. We have to live a Godly life in front of our kids, for them to succeed. Love them deeply and express it daily. Be affectionate. Don’t spoil them with material things. Give them attention.  You can give them too many things but you can’t love a child too much. Be a parent not a pal. Make things like church – youth group – and kids and youth camps as non-negotiables. Don’t major in the minors.

What about as a wife?

Be a great forgiver. Realize that marriage is an everyday exercise in getting beyond your selfishness.

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

The varied, high and unattainable expectations. Every church member has a different idea of who and what you should be and many don’t mind telling you.

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

Read Galatians 1:10 over and over and over. Memorize it. Live by it.

If you could give one piece of advice to a leader in general what would it be?

When everything is going wrong, it’s not always your fault. But when everything is going right it’s not always your fault either.

Who has been the biggest influence in your life?  What lessons did that person teach you?

My grandmother, Jura Lewis. She taught me resilience, love, commitment, love for the Lord and His Church.

What do the women in our churches need, in your opinion?  How can we meet that need?

They need a lot of things including the basics of spiritual formation – things like a close relationship with God and a prayerful and spirit-empowered life. But something important that also comes to mind is that they need to know they are not alone in the issues they face. I think many of us believe no one goes through what we do in the load we bear. It’s not nice to think of the fact that others are suffering in various ways, but it’s a comfort to know you’re not alone or crazy. We can meet the need by opening a conversation and giving helps we have found to navigate the journey.

What do you believe leaders forget sometimes that’s important for them to do?

Three things come to mind.

  • Laugh a lot. Leadership is challenging and sometimes we start to take ourselves way too seriously and get uptight about everything. I find things to laugh about every day. My assistant Erika and I share so many laughs each day, and I believe it’s essential to a healthy team culture.
  • Enjoy the process. So often we forget to actually enjoy the projects and events we work on. I have found myself in such an intense place at an event that I’m not having any fun doing what I’ve worked so hard on. We forget, God actually wants us to ENJOY the ministry.
  • Celebrate wins. I think Christians are bad at this, Pentecostals particularly. We are so focused on giving glory to God, (which is important) that we don’t celebrate accomplishments and milestones appropriately. When you do a good job at something, savor the win at least for a day. The next project awaits you, but don’t forget to celebrate what just happened.

 

What’s your favorite Women’s Ministries event?  Why?

Our annual leadership team retreat.  I really enjoy pouring into people as a smaller group and not just the big events. This retreat is really impactful and prepares our team to minister to people on a wider scale. This smaller meeting is the catalyst for every big thing we do.

What do you like most about being a pastor’s wife?

Having so much opportunity to make a lasting impact on someone’s life. The door is wide open! The sky is the limit.

What do you like LEAST about being a pastor’s wife?

The varied expectations that I could never meet even if I gave it absolutely everything I have.

What is your favorite Scripture verse?   

Joshua 1:5-6

“No one will be able to stand against you as long as you live. For I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will not fail you or abandon you. Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.”

What do you like to do for fun?

Read, write, ride my bicycle, sit on the swing on the patio and watch the rain, take a long bath, be quiet and sip on a cup of coffee or an iced tea. I know that my “fun” is boring to most people

Are you a morning or a night person?

I’m actually both, with an afternoon crash. Ha! I’m raring and ready to go in the morning and accomplish a lot and then usually feel a crash mid-day and get a second wind at night and get a lot more done. Thank God for coffee in the afternoon. (Please do not send me a sales pitch for vitamins, a shake or something to wrap my body in that will fix my afternoon crash. I’ll keep my coffee.)

What is your favorite color? Green

What is your favorite food? Mashed potatoes.

What are some of your “favorites” in life?

Books, writing, classical, jazz, big band, gospel, playing the piano, singing, writing and arranging music, crepe myrtle trees, hydrangeas, roses, dancing (for fun, not performing) cruises, rollerskating, road trips or taking the train, rocking chairs, coffee and tea – the bolder the better, Africa, the tea fields of Kenya, walking through the woods, eating at  hole in the walls, being in quiet places and spaces. Solitude – I have to have it to recharge or just to be okay in general. I love people so much and at the same time if I don’t get quiet each day, it’s much more of a challenge to be loving but I try my best to be anyway.

Tell us something people may not guess, about you…

My kids say there is nothing people won’t guess about me because I’m so transparent. I don’t care who knows what about me…sometimes to an embarrassing point for my family. But let’s see…well, I am afraid of putting my head under water. I don’t jump into deep water. The ladies of the church we pastored in Maryland collected money and offered me $700 to jump into a pool. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I tried a few times and got so weak kneed and sweaty I told them to keep the money.

 What is your most unusual talent?

I can tell you whether the fries at a McDonalds are good or bad before tasting them. I get a feeling about it when I’m in the parking lot or driving by.

What is the favorite year of your life so far?

My first year as director of PF Women. It was an exciting rollercoaster ride of seeing God’s provision and faithfulness.

What do you like most about your role as director?

I genuinely love every single thing about it. It’s hard for me to pick one thing I love most.

Finish this sentence:  “My favorite place to vacation would be…”

Place I have been – Key West or Savannah, GA

Place I have not been – Greece

How do you want to be remembered?

As a person of integrity and love who gave my all at whatever I did, and made a difference in people’s lives and in the world.