This podcast is for women in ministry who want to break free from the overwhelm, lead with focus, and have time for their family and friends.
Your host, Jen Howat has served the local church as pastor and coach and understands first hand how easily we can become overwhelmed with all there is to do. She gives strategies and encouragement to help you strengthen your leadership, and speaks candidly about the unique challenges we face as women.
The Cure for an Unsustainable Pace in Ministry [EP:117]
Are you running from one thing to the next? Has the pace of life and ministry become unsustainable? It is so easy to constantly be on the go, to always be "on" and available and many pastors and ministry leaders are feeling the impact. Maybe you do too. Maybe you know that you are running yourself into the ground. You are keenly aware that you can’t keep it up much longer. It’s not a question of loving God or even loving what you do...it’s a matter of the relentless pace in which you are doing it.
You can be unrelenting in your love for Jesus, your commitment to sharing the gospel and serving your ministry organization without a relentless pace.
You probably know that deep inside. You know that you were not meant to go like the energizer bunny. You were not designed to keep your foot on the gas and keep going no matter what. That’s what gets celebrated in our culture...it’s what is valued and praised...it is even what gets promoted in the church as a caring, Jesus-loving, committed leader.
But, you weren’t meant for constant activity and commitments, even good and Godly ones. So what do you do? How do you fix it? What’s the cure for an unsustainable pace? The answer is simple but not easy.
If you want to solve the problem of an unsustainable pace, the solution is to have a sustainable one. That’s right...If you want a sustainable pace in ministry, you need to create a sustainable pace in ministry.
Now, if you’re like me you think, well, duh. That’s a no brainer, except, is it? For whatever reason we somehow just want the pace to slow down without doing anything differently.
We desperately want the pace to change, but we aren’t willing to change the pace.
In this episode I share a few key things to ask yourself as you prime the pump and get ready for changing the pace.
What is your philosophy and theology of a sustainable pace to ministry? What is sustainable for you? What is God calling you to this season? What relationships matter most? A sustainable pace to life and ministry is so important. It will make it more likely for you to continue as a healthy leader for the long haul, living out your calling in your particular context. It helps you be present both physically and emotionally to those around you and it is critical in order for us to become more and more like Jesus.
Let's not just talk about a sustainable pace, let's make it a reality!
Ready to take the next step?
Join me for the next Margin Maker workshop. This 4-week workshop will help you create the margin you need for a sustainable pace. CLICK HERE to get on the waitlist. You will receive an email in a few weeks when registration begins.
Connect with Jen
Things I'm Learning When I Can't Find God [EP:116]
Are you praying but God is silent? Are you listening but don’t hear a thing? Are you searching, seeking, leaning in and just can’t seem to find God at all? You are not alone. I’m right there with you. And in this episode I’m going to share with you some of the things I’m learning along the journey.
What is this place? Sometimes this is referred to as what St. John of the Cross called the dark night of the soul, the place where beginners are being led to a place of growth and maturity. God is intentionally taking us from a sweet place in order for us to commune more deeply with Him. St. John of the Cross likens it to a mother who weans a nursing child intentionally so that they can feed on something more substantial.
As St. John of the Cross looked at this process (he was a Spanish mystic from the 1500’s, Carmelite monk, a follower of Teresa of Avila) he explained that it was necessary for the soul to go through a purging process in order that the person may be brought into what he called, Divine union of the soul with God. The dark night is an intentional process designed to reveal spiritual imperfections to cleanse us from the things deeply rooted in us that are taking the place of God.
Pete Scazzero refers to this process as journeying through the wall. He also believes that this process is a necessary way that God grows us into mature Jesus followers. And as God brings us to the wall, a place where we are going through difficult things and we can’t seem to find Him, God is stripping us of all the things that keep us from Him.
Here's What I'm Learning I lack patience with myself to grow. I lack patience with God and the ability to wait for Him and what He wants to bring, give, do, when He wants to do it. I pursue the sense, the feelings, feelings of spiritual things, rather than just God.
This hard season:
Is exposing my limited and self-centered perspective. (Underneath the surface there is something that is self serving, self gratifying) Is revealing the things I’m holding on to or striving for or searching for that aren’t God. Even godly things can’t be a substitute for God himself. Comes from the love of God and His desire to grow us. He is preparing us for the day when Jesus comes again. God wants us to experience the joy of my salvation. (Philippians 1) Is forming and shaping me so that I would develop Christ-like character and so that I would lack nothing. Is showing me that struggling and suffering are a part of our life with Christ. It’s necessary. Reminds me that God is doing something good in me. God knows what’s best for me. Resources Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross Pete Scazzero: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, The Emotionally Healthy Church, The Emotionally Healthy Leader. Emotionally Healthy Discipleship Website full of courses, books, a great podcast and an emotionally healthy leadership live online event coming up in early December. You can check it all out HERE!! The Ascent of Truth by Thomas Merton
Struggling to Hear From God [EP:115]
When I started talking about feeling far from God a few weeks ago, I had no idea how much that would resonate with so many of you. You have shared that you too feel like you are unable to connect with God. You feel like He is distant.
It’s confusing, it’s frustrating, even disappointing...and it feels lonely.
There are many reasons why we experience a season feeling far from God. Last week in episode 114 we talked about being in a spiritual rut and some things we can do to connect with God in a meaningful way. If you haven't listened yet you can check it out HERE.
What should you do when you find yourself struggling to hear from God?
There are many things that can keep us from hearing from God. Spiritual and emotional fatigue and exhaustion can play a factor. Busyness and constant work in ministry and other activities in life can impact our ability to hear. Our own sin and desires of the flesh, our worries, fears...they all can play a part.
While it is hard to give an exhaustive list or a quick step guide to hear from Him instantly, there are some questions we can ask ourselves to see the bigger picture and gain spiritual perspective.
If you feel like you are not hearing from God here are some things to consider.
Are you listening? Are you in the word...consistently? Have you forgotten your first love? Is your relationship with God put on the back burner as you attend to everyone and everything else? Do you say a bunch of stuff and then get up and move on. (I know I do!) Do you expect God to answer at that moment. Are you watching and listening throughout the day? Are you distracted? What’s going on around you? What’s going on inside of you?
Are you in the right posture? Are you receptive, expectant, hopeful? Are you convinced of His love, His control, His goodness, and His ability? Are you looking to glorify and honor God? Are you looking for something from God or are you looking for God? There is a difference. What is your mind focused on? What are you meditating on? Truth? Are your thoughts set up against the truth of Christ? Have you slowed down? Have you created space and margin? God often shows up there!
Are you having the right conversation? Is this the conversation God wants to have with you? Perhaps there is something else that needs to be discussed before moving on to your concerns. It could be directly tied to helping you sort out what He’s saying about the particular situation on your mind or it could be entirely different. Is this what matters most?
Are you limiting your perspective on how God wants to speak? Could God be talking to you in a different way? Are you only looking for Him to speak in one specific way or are you open to Him coming in an unexpected way? Is God speaking to you through people? Through your circumstances?
If you are feeling far from God and are struggling to hear God remember, this is normal. It is a normal part of our relationship with God. And it comes from a place of love. God uses this time as He does of all things, for your good... to bring you closer to Him...to trust Him, cling to Him, rely on Him and Him alone.
Your Next Step If you are sensing that you need to attend to your soul and your relationship with God but not sure what your next step might be, let’s connect for a call over Zoom. You can sign up HERE and pick the time that works best for you!
Getting Out of a Spiritual Rut [EP:114]
O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
My whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
Can you relate to these words written by David in Psalm 63?
Do you feel like you are searching for God? Maybe you can feel the dryness of your soul and you know it is impacting your life and leadership. Maybe you are worn out. The journey has depleted you, it’s made you tired and even though you search for God you can’t seem to connect with Him. He feels distant and you feel lost.
We all go through times when we feel less connected to God and there can be a variety of reasons for it. Maybe you feel stuck as you seek to grow in intimacy with God. Nothing you’re doing right now makes you feel like you are growing closer to Him. Maybe you are not able to hear Him because you are distracted or not stopping to listen. Or maybe you have hit what Pete Scazzero calls, "the wall" and you are in a deeper place of distress because of God’s silence and perceived absence. All of these things are a normal part of life with God and the good news is that when we find ourselves in these places, it is because God loves us and wants us to be even more intimately connected and dependent on Him.
Today we are going to talk about being in a spiritual rut and I will share some tips that may help you. The reason why this is so important is that the state of our soul directly impacts our life and ministry. The condition of our soul affects every part of our life...all of it. And if we don’t attend to our inner life with God and try different ways to connect with God when we are feeling thirsty for Him, we could be setting ourselves up for depletion and burnout.
Our relationship with God is the strength that carries us through all of life and it is our relationship with God and His strength that allows us to serve in the place He has called us to. Our doing for Him comes directly out of our intimacy and meaningful connection with Him. Too many of us feel like David...parched, searching, weary, longing for God AND we don’t do anything different. We keep doing the same things expecting, hoping for a different result. While you can’t fix it (God is the fixer of things) you can explore with God and try some things to put you in a place that helps you be open to God and what He is doing.
If you feel dry, if you feel like you just aren’t able to connect, you may be in a spiritual rut. You may need to reposition yourself (maybe literally in a different place) and do some things with God a little differently.
Some of the thoughts I’m sharing are things that I rediscovered as I recently read a book by Gary Thomas called “Sacred Pathways: Nine Ways to Connect With God" and I wanted to make sure to acknowledge his work.
Here are some tips to help you explore different ways that you can connect and love God.
PRAY. God, I’m not connecting. I’m not feeling like I’m connecting. Help me. Take me beyond my feelings. Pray the words of Psalm 63.
Go back to your Gethsemane. You may know the garden of Gethsemane as the scene of the agony and arrest of Jesus and therefore it is a place of great mental or spiritual suffering. That’s what I always think of when I hear Gethsemane. While this is true, there is something that Gary Thomas pointed out in his book Spiritual Pathways that I had missed. Jesus went out and made his way as usual to the Mount of Olives. (Luke 22:39)
John 18 says, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Judas the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. Jesus went back to a place that was familiar. It was a place that He had often visited.
Do you have a place? Do you have a place you like to meet with God? Where is it? Where do you feel drawn to Him? Go back if you can and if you c
When You Feel Far From God [EP:113]
Do you feel far from God? Is it hard to hear Him? Do you struggle to see the ways He is working around you? When we feel far from God it plays a role in our soul health. And when we feel depleted, worried, even alone, it impacts the way we relate to God and others.
In this episode, I'm sharing a call that I recently had with a group of women taking the Margin Maker Workshop. We just completed the first session, "Getting Ready for Change" where we asked the question, "How's your soul?" In this conversation we talked about how we might be feeling and what assurances we can take with us on the journey to wholeness in our relationship with God and margin in life and ministry.
Scriptures Referenced Isaiah 53:6 Psalm 25:8 Psalm 23
If you'd like to join me for our next Margin Maker Workshop in a few months, you can get on the waitlist HERE. Or, if you're not quite sure what your next step should be but you know you need to make a change, let's have a discovery call. This is a free call that you can book with me HERE.
You Are Loved by God Apart From Ministry [EP:112]
You are loved by God. Not because you are in ministry. Not because you said yes to leadership. Not because you are compassionate. It is not because of anything you have ever done or will ever do. It is because of who God is.
As the song Jireh, says: You have never been more loved than you are right now. God loved you and chose you because it gave Him great pleasure to do it!
Many of us struggle to anchor ourselves fully in the complete love of God. We worry about disappointing Him. We want to make Him so glad that He chose us. He does choose you and He would do it over and over again because He is love. And His love and acceptance has nothing to do with your ministry.
If you struggle with the idea that you are loved by God apart from ministry, this episode is for you.
Scriptures Referenced Ephesians 1:4-5
Isaiah 30:15-18 (verse 18 in the Amplified Version)
A genuine encouragement to women in ministry
Are you a woman in ministry who needs encouragement from someone who understands what you go through daily, weekly, yearly as you pour your heart into the call on your life? - Jen’s podcast is is exactly what you need!
I have been listening to this podcast for about a month. The first question she asks in Episode Number One intrigued me and I just wanted more. If you want healing and wholeness for your undernourished soul (#allofus), this is the place to listen! Thank you Jen for your heart that brings help to every single one of us.
You will be blessed by listening to this!
If you take the time to listen to this podcast you won’t regret it. It’s like Jen is speaking right to YOU! Her delivery is calm, reassuring, personal and REAL. You will be blessed by listening. Thank you Jen for sharing this wisdom and insight with us.