Monday, 31 October 2016

The journey continues: Where to from here



We have reached the end of this series but the journey of stepping up in leadership is an ongoing one. I never want to get to the place where I think I know everything and get too comfortable. I want to be a life long learner, especially when it comes to my leadership. I hope that you have the same idea.

It was my intention for this series to encourage and inspire other leaders walking this journey. I also wanted those who don't see themselves as leaders to recognise the influence and abilities that they have already. Through my experiences and reflections, I want to empower leaders. 

I knew from previous years what a challenge a daily series can be. It has grown and stretched me. It has forced me to take long looks at myself and evaluate areas of my leadership honestly. It has helped me to identify areas where growth and learning is needed. I now get to apply what I have learned as I take on my new role.

This series has had the added benefit of giving me renewed momentum in my writing and clarifying the direction I want to take. This blog has always been a vague idea for me. Now I know where my heart beat is: Encouraging others in leading themselves, leading their families and leading others. Over the next few months, I want to focus my writing to fit with this heart beat and make changes on the blog to reflect this. I would love for you to join me in this.

For the past two years, reaching the end of Write 31 Days has left me with somewhat of an anticlimax. This year, I have a project. Writing daily limits the depth that I can go in my writing. The feedback I have had from this series makes it clear to me that there is a need for these words. I will be turning this series into an ebook. I am looking forward to expanding on the reflections and ideas to produce a resource that can reach many more on their leadership journey. If you want to keep in touch with this project, subscribe below and you will be among the first to know when it is available.

What I am most interested in now, is how I can help you. What do you struggle with in your leadership journey? Where do you need the most encouragement? I would love to hear from you.

And now, I celebrate completing this challenge!

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Sunday, 30 October 2016

Sunday Scripture: Psalm 91:1-4


These verses have long been among my favourites. They combine the messages of abiding, rest and feathers that God has been talking to me about over the past few years. I am learning more and more that my leadership ability is going to be directly proportional to how much I am living in Christ. These verses feel like a wrap-around blanket of peace. 

Feathers have so much significance to me. You can read about that here. I pray that you will be able to experience for yourself the shelter of His wings in your own journey.

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Saturday, 29 October 2016

My go to leadership resources


We live in an age where we have an abundance of access to books, articles, videos, podcasts, blogs and anything else the internet has to offer. It can be overwhelming to say the least. There is much that is available for free but a huge amount that requires an investment of funds too. My budget doesn't always allow for spending on books or DVDs or courses so I have had to tap into what is available.

  • Podcasts: free resources don't come much better than podcasts. I love that I can be continuing with the tasks of my day while being inspired, taught and encouraged in my leadership journey. There are many out there. My current favourites are the Bold and Courageous Leader podcast from Rhonda Peterson and the Leadership University podcast from Dr Henry Cloud. I love that they bring a Biblical perspective to leadership.
  • Video teaching: I love watching great leaders teach. YouTube always has lots of options but may not have full videos (or have them there illegally). I have had access to RightNow Media through a previous organisation (not available to individuals) and was blown away by how much there is on offer. Several internet sources have video teaching available for purchase and of course, book stores would too.
  • Books: I haven't read many leadership specific books. I often turn to audiobooks and Kindle versions to reduce costs and be able to listen while going about my day. There have been many that have inspired me of late:


The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst

A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman

Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist

Unqualified by Steven Furtick

  • Conferences: I am attending the Global Leadership Summit conference here in Perth next week. I have seen segments of previous years but have never attended a full conference. I am looking forward to expanding my skills and being inspired.
  • Mentors and those around me: possibly even more beneficial than all of these other resources are the people in my life who are further along the journey of leadership than I am and can speak into my own journey. My team and friends around me are also key in encouraging, inspiring, correcting and growing me. 
As my journey of stepping up in leadership continues, I am eager to keep learning and growing. I would love to hear about your favourite resources.



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This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge. You can read what others are contributing here



The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon. 





Friday, 28 October 2016

Giving up on long term planning


It may seem odd to end a week where I have reflected on setting a vision and communicating that vision with a post about giving up on long-term planning. Allow me to explain. For the past few years, every long-term plan I have made, every idea for the future I have had has been blown out of the water. My life today is far different from what I thought it would be. This may sound negative, but it is quite the opposite. I have experienced time and again that the plans that God brings about in my life may be challenging but are far more beneficial than anything I come up with. 

I am learning more and more that I try to control my anxiety by making plans. If my husband is running late and I start feeling flickers of anxiety about his safety, my mind defaults to planning for how I would cope without him, who I would call first if a policeman showed up on my doorstep, how I would go about paying for a funeral. All attempts to feel in control. I am realising that it comes down to a lack of trust. 

It is this lack of trust that I am working on. Giving up on long-term planning is not a matter of throwing my hands up in defeat but a conscious opening of my hands to let go. As I draw closer in my relationship with God, I trust Him more. I am able to trust that the path He has me on is for my good and for His purposes. I am learning to be content with knowing just the next step in front of me. I continue to seek out the seasons He has on the way for me, as I talked about in Discovering vision for where I lead

How does this relate to my leadership journey? Well, none of the leadership steps I have taken has been planned by me. Each has taken me by surprise in many ways. I have no idea how long I will be in this role and what will come after it. Amazingly for me, I am at peace with that. My default (that still tries to rear up at times) is to spend time, mental and emotional energy working out many different scenarios and possibilities. That achieves nothing but a distraction from the present. I want to be fully present in my life today, investing that time and energy into my team, my responsibilities and my leadership skills, and of course, my family first and foremost.

Giving up on long-term planning is necessary for my leadership to allow me to walk in trust and be flexible. Maybe you can relate to that. Maybe for you, long-term planning is not a distraction but a skill that you need to work on. We are each unique in what we need to let go of and what we need to pursue.

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This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge. You can read what others are contributing here



The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon. 





Thursday, 27 October 2016

Thankful Thursday


It seems unbelievable that we are at the last Thankful Thursday for October. This month has stretched me and felt full without being overwhelming. I am thankful for that. It has had the potential to be stressful and crush me with its weight. The busyness has meant that I am neglecting to notice the good in my every day, though. I sat to write my list for this week and have had to really think to come up with a specific rather than generic gratitude list. Maybe your week has been similar in its fullness. Have you stopped to search out the good in your past week?

  • I am frequently in awe watching my daughter learn and develop. I took her to a park to ride her bike and she astounded me with her progress in such a short time. The bike is still a little big for her and yet she is riding so proficiently (with some wobbles, of course). She is growing before my very eyes. I get teary thinking of how quickly she is growing up.
  • My gorgeous nephew had a birthday on the weekend. I love spending time with my family celebrating. My daughter loved exploring a new park. I am thankful for family. I am thankful that I live in a country that values nature and creative play spaces for children.




  • This time of year brings Operation Christmas Child packing. I have loved seeing my daughter understand more each year about what we are doing. She loves choosing presents to put in the box and send to children who don't have the same privileges that she does. I love her heart for wanting to bless them. It is also a highlight of my teaching year. I always leave class budget to take my students shopping to fill a box. I love seeing them getting more and more involved in choosing what they will buy and discussing the benefits of different choices. These are students who struggle being in shopping centres, who may have difficulty interacting with their classmates, who face considerable challenges in their own lives. What a privilege to get to give them the opportunity to bless others and grow a little themselves in the process.
  

  • As much as I have loved writing this series, I am also thankful that it drawing to a close. Posting daily is a challenge. I have learned so much and have fresh vision for my writing moving forward. More on that on the last day of October!
I love hearing what you are thankful for through the comments or linking up your own posts. I encourage you to stop and take stock of your week. Notice the good.





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The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon. 


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Communicating the vision to others



In yesterday's post, I reflected on the process of discovering a vision for the area that you lead in. Communicating that vision in a way that others can grasp and catch is the next part of the process. I don't have much in the way of experience with this. Over the coming weekend, I will be sharing with my team. My hope is that the passion I feel for this vision will transmit in my words. I am trusting that God will be preparing hearts and ignite the vision within them as He has in me. This process is made easier when I know that the team is already passionate about what we do.

Clarity in my own mind is needed to communicate the vision clearly. I have researched definitions, sought the right words and written down notes on what I want to say. I am feeling confident in being able to bring an understanding of what God has laid on my heart. I have the "umbrella" of the vision for our ministry for the next season.

There is much that still needs to be fleshed out as we begin to implement strategies and plan for events next year. My desire is for the team to be a large part of this process. This allows it to be more fully their vision. I need the whole team contributing their unique perspectives, abilities and vision to succeed in driving our ministry forward. I am looking forward to discussing plans and the vision with my team.

The challenge moving forward will be holding this vision myself and keeping it at the forefront of my team's focus over the whole year. Several leadership teachers use the term "vision leaks". It is human nature to get caught up in our everyday lives and lose that first passion and momentum. It will be my responsibility to keep coming back to what God has placed on my heart and reminding my team of this. Maybe I need to "write it on my walls" where I will see it in my daily life.

I would love to hear how you have communicated your vision to others under your leadership. How have you kept the vision fresh in your own and your team's minds?

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The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon. 



Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Discovering vision for where I lead



When I first wrote this idea down on my plan for this series, I purposely left it until the last week. It made me nervous as I was doubting my ability to carry this part of my new role. In my mind, I have always just followed the vision set by others. I knew that I would be preparing to share a vision for next year with my team at the end of October and hoped that I would have something to write about at this point in the month. Thankfully, I was right!

Preparing for the team retreat, I spent time with God seeking His heart for MOPS in Western Australia. For me in Christian ministry, this is where vision begins. God came through. Fragments of thought from previous weeks and months consolidated. He dropped a phrase into my heart that encompassed what is needed in the coming season. I wouldn't have received this answer if I hadn't created the space to listen. If you are struggling to set a vision, maybe you need to do more listening and sitting in God's presence.

Through this process, I recognised that my fear about the responsibility of setting vision was unfounded. I have sought and set the vision for areas I've been responsible for and for my own life without attaching that label to it. I also realised that my part of the equation is making space for God to speak and using the observation and discernment skills he has already placed within me. He is the one who sets the vision. I need only hear it and communicate it.

As I reflected on times in the past where I have used this process without realising it, I had an epiphany that I frequently sense seasons that are ahead for myself or for areas I lead in. Vision is wrapped up in this concept of seasons for me. Vision will likely look differently to you. We are all wired in unique ways and connect with and hear from God in different ways as well.

Having a vision is one thing. Developing strategies to see this vision come to life is key. While I have some ideas on this, I recognise that I need my team around me to flesh this out. It is a vision for our ministry and it will be our strategies and combined ideas that will work this out. This requires me communicating that vision to them. The next post in this series will discuss communicating vision to others.

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This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge. You can read what others are contributing here



The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon. 


















Monday, 24 October 2016

Empowering those you have influence over


One of the aspects of my role in MOPS that I have loved exploring and developing is calling other women into leadership. When I think of the highlights from the past year, some of the standout moments have been when women that I see leadership within step up despite their fears. I love that the journey I have been on of confronting feelings of inadequacy and wrestling with taking on a label of a leader is producing fruit in the lives of others. I am able to encourage and share from an authentic heart as I know what that is like. What a privilege to be able to speak and pray into someone else's journey.

A huge part of my heart and vision for this next season of my own leadership journey is empowering others. For our ministry to flourish and grow to another level, we need more leaders operating in their full capacity. We need a diversity of leaders all bringing their unique personalities and gifts. I cannot do it all and nor should I. The Biblical model is a body of diverse parts that work together. We miss out  on so much when people choose to let fear or busyness keep them from leadership. In saying this, I understand and completely agree with the women I speak to who decide that a leadership position is not a “best yes” for that time. I wonder, though, if some of them say no because they doubt their capacity or fail to recognise their own calling.

I found in my own life and see in others that the season of being a mother of young children is a time when it is easy to lose yourself and feel unable to lead or be part of anything. So much of your capacity is taken up by the everyday relentlessness of children’s needs. I know that I experienced feeling stuck and frustrated. MOPS gave me that opportunity to step up even in my more limited capacity. I found that my capacity grew as I took those steps. I long to encourage other women feeling the same. I see so much potential in the women I meet in MOPS. The battle is often getting them to see it for themselves. I have experienced the significance of others calling out the leadership they saw in me by inviting me to join and articulating the reasons why. I want to do the same for others.

I don't have a formula for how to do this. I wish it was a simple process. Relationship is often key. Repeated opportunities to speak encouragement, share my own journey, extend invitations and walk alongside someone build up to the moment when they can say yes. It will look different with each person. For me, this has to be guided by God. The times when I have seen this process succeed is when it was first seeded in my heart during times of prayer and hanging out in God's presence. Prayer covers each step. There is trust involved. They have to trust that you will walk with them and support them in their leadership journey. I want to be a leader that others can trust to do this.

I have a sense of anticipation in my heart to see how God brings together teams, builds into existing leaders and propels them forward over the next year.

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This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge. You can read what others are contributing here



The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon. 









Sunday, 23 October 2016

Sunday Scripture: Matthew 11:28-30


I come back to these verses and the Message version in particular frequently. I still don't fully understand how to live this out but I am learning. I have been in that place of feeling burned out from the doing. I recognise the tendency within me to return to that place. Real rest, unforced rhythms of grace, living freely and lightly are all available to me through walking with Jesus, just being with him. This is what I want my life and my leadership journey to look like.

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This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge. You can read what others are contributing here



The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon. 









Saturday, 22 October 2016

My people are essential to my leadership


The more responsibility I take on in leadership, the more I value the close friendships and family I have. Their encouragement, prayers and practical help keep me going. They challenge me when I need to be challenged. They bring correction. They celebrate with me and cheer me on. It takes effort and intentional choice to invest in these relationships when it would be easier to bury myself in everything on my to-do list. I need to remember how much I need them.

I love that I have people I can message when I'm having a bad day and ask them to pray. They can do the same. They are my people, my tribe, my community. They keep me grounded and in touch. They enable me to get tasks done while my daughter is loved on and entertained. They believe in me when I am struggling to believe in myself.

When I reflect on all that they do for me, it is impossible to imagine being in leadership without them. This is what drives me to keep building these relationships. I am far from perfect in this. I fail as a friend frequently. I get lost in my own introverted world. They forgive me and love me anyway. I cannot thank them enough.

How often do you invest in friendships and in your family? Have you let relationships slide as you step up in leadership? Who in your life is cheering you on, encouraging you, pushing you to improve? Have you thanked them recently? May we be the kind of leaders who see the value in our tribe and invest in that. May we be the kind of friends who do this vital role for others. 

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This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge. You can read what others are contributing here



The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon. 





Friday, 21 October 2016

What challenges do you face in leading yourself?


The idea of leading ourselves being the most valuable and most difficult element of our leadership has been resonating with me. The reality is that the only person I can truly seek to control and change is myself. I have spent time this week reflecting on some of those ways that I have been seeking to lead myself in. Today, I want to talk about those areas that continue to challenge and frustrate me. Whenever I contemplate these issues, the verses that Paul wrote in Romans come to mind.

Romans 7:15-20The Message (MSG)
14-16 I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary.
17-20 But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. 


The biggest ongoing struggle for me is giving in to the pull of distraction and technology, that eats up my time and prevents me from being truly present in many moments of my day. I first wrote about my struggle two years ago and revisited it during last year's Write 31 Days challenge (you can read those here and here.) I know that I am not alone in this struggle and that it is an ever increasing problem in our world. Technology can have so many benefits and brilliant uses in our leadership but can cut down our effectiveness if not managed. I wish I could say that I have this mastered. 

I have been reminded again of the impact of leaving this unchecked when my daughter starts playing with her "phone" while we're at the table so that she can "just check this message quickly" and pretends to finish her meal quickly so she can get back to her "phone." A punch in the gut! Changes that I make usually prove short lasting. I continue to try new strategies to break these patterns of behaviour. Those Romans verses remind me that change in my own strength is not possible. This has to be a spiritual battle for me too. I have to be willing to continue to submit to God and not ignore His promptings during my day to change behaviour. It is in His strength that I can make progress.  

What is it in your own life that feels like a deep dark secret or feels like a battle that continues to rage despite all your best efforts? What are those challenges that you face in trying to lead yourself? Can you relate to my frustration and the truth of self-leadership being the most difficult to achieve? We may all have different issues that we are facing but we are united in being human. It is such a relief to have access to God's grace. My tendency is to beat myself up over my struggles. I sense God looking down at me, not with anger but with love, encouraging me as a father. His love is patient and slow to anger. Do you take your issues to God and ask for His help or does shame hold you back? He is waiting to help. 

I am realising that my part of self-leadership is an honest evaluation of myself, taking steps of obedience about problems that come up, working hard but more importantly, drawing near to God. He performs the transformation within.

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The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon. 







Thursday, 20 October 2016

Thankful Thursday


Thursday comes around quickly each week. I use Thursdays as my reminder to stop in the midst of busy weeks and take stock of the good things in my week. What am I thankful for right now in this week? During my series on Stepping up in leadership, I am also reflecting on the elements of my leadership journey that I am grateful for.

  • I am thankful to have so much access to resources that grow my leadership skills. Books, videos, podcasts- there are so many ways to learn from the wisdom and experience of great leaders that have blazed the trail before me.
  • A huge highlight of this week was the opportunity to spend time at my daughter's school as a parent helper. I can't believe that it is already her last term of kindy and that she will be in full-time school next year. It makes the time I spent watching her interacting with friends and sharing her favourite activities with me all the more precious.

A photo posted by @jokoepke on


A photo posted by @jokoepke on


  • The countdown is on until our new church campus opens. On the weekend, we spent time there as a family working on the gardens and play area with other volunteers from our church and even some from the neighbourhood. I love being part of a church that has a vision of being a community centre focused on connecting with people in the local area. I love being a part of founding a new campus of our church. I am also very thankful that we had such beautiful spring weather for the afternoon of gardening after a blustery cold day the day before.




  •  I am so thankful that I said yes to the Write 31 Days challenge this year. I have had confirmation after confirmation that this series is exactly what I am supposed to be writing on right now. I love that my words are connecting with the hearts of those I know in real life and those around the internet. I am energised in my writing and still have so much in my heart to pour into this series. It has clarified what I want the purpose of this blog to be and given me the base of my first ebook (stay tuned for that in the hopefully near future!!) 
If you want to join me in stopping each week to be thankful and need a reminder, you can subscribe to my weekly email below.

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I love hearing from you about what you are thankful for and the good that you see in your days. You can join me in the comments or in the link up below.


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This series is part of the Write 31 Days challenge. You can read what others are contributing here



The Five Minute Friday book has released! Profits from this book go to two charities in South Africa. I am eagerly awaiting my copy to arrive. Get yours by clicking on the picture above or searching for it on Amazon.