Leading Well for the Long Haul

Biblical leadership
Today’s guest post is by author and pastor, Dr. Larry Osborne. Osborne has served as senior pastor and teaching pastor at North Coast Church for more than 35 years. He helped oversee the growth of the church from a group of 128 meeting in a rented school, to a multi-site ministry that reaches over 10,000 in weekend attendance. You can find Larry Osborne’s leadership books in Logos and Vyrso.

Everybody wants to leave a legacy. But the reality is we can’t control the impact or the length of our legacy. We’re prophets to our own generation (Acts 13:36) who serve God, play our role and are gone.

That said, how we live and lead does have an impact on our endurance. Our perspective, the way we love our people, our dependability and our sense of security all directly affect our ability to lead and serve effectively for the long haul.

Read more…

Women in Business: Anne-Marie Faiola

Anne-Marie-women-in-leadershipLast week, Faithlife began a new speaker series, women in business. In this series, local business leaders will provide new perspectives and insights into the business world and offer advice based on the lessons they’ve learned.

Anne-Marie Faiola, CEO and founder of Bramble Berry in Bellingham, Washington, kicked off the series with an enthusiastic look at her roller-coaster journey as an entrepreneur. Her story is one of persistence: after beginning her career as a corrections officer, she quit her job to turn her hobby—soapmaking—into a means of supporting herself. She did just that, and 17 years later, she has several successful companies to her name. She has also been recognized as Washington State’s Businesswoman of the Year in 2009 and Washington State’s Businessperson of the Year in 2010.

Her business, Bramble Berry, has become a thriving, multi-million-dollar enterprise, supporting nearly 100 employees and growing. Her passion is infectious, and it’s clear that she loves what she does.

Success didn’t happen overnight, and Anne-Marie’s hardships and achievements taught her valuable lessons along the way.

Here are Anne-Marie’s top five keys to success:

1. Success is not a straight line.

Anne-Marie’s story has its fair share of ups and downs, from going into major debt to grossing millions of dollars each year, but one of the most important things she learned was to be adaptable and flexible as her business progressed. When something wasn’t working, sometimes all it took to solve the problem was admitting failure and moving past it or pivoting her direction.

2. It’s OK to dream big.

When Bramble Berry was in its early stages—and even today as it grows—Anne-Marie said it was crucial to be “delusionally optimistic.” Remaining happy and positive is key to overcoming challenges that arise, and being optimistic is an intentional choice. She noted that this is especially helpful when building a team—it’s important to lay a solid foundation and encourage new members in order for everyone to work toward the same goal.

3. Surround yourself well.

As Anne-Marie said, you’re the sum total of the five people you spend the most time with. Anne-Marie recommended choosing people who uplift you and help you out during rough patches rather than those who are unsupportive or negative. She also suggested building a network and finding a single mentor you can call on when you need them most.

4. Learn to say no.

When sharing a story about creating a large volume of product for a local grocery-store chain, Anne-Marie said with a hint of sarcasm, “I told them yes, because you always say yes to opportunity!” However, she went on to explain that saying yes to an opportunity means saying no to something else, and vice versa. It’s critical to set boundaries for yourself so you can focus on the tasks that keep you on track toward your ultimate goals.

5. Have a plan.

Anne-Marie has always found that creating and sticking to a plan is foundational for success, even cautioning, “Not planning is planning to fail.” Her decisions are backed by data, which helps her see when the plan needs to be altered. Setting realistic, attainable goals helps her see where she’s going and how she’s going to get there, and living out those goals in her daily actions helps her progress one step at a time.

In the coming weeks, we look forward to sharing more lessons from local leaders—stay tuned!

Does Faithlife sound like your kind of workplace? Come join us! Check out our current career openings and apply today.

Women in Business

Anne-Marie Faiola
Anne-Marie Faiola, CEO and founder, Bramble Berry

Starting today, Faithlife employees will have the opportunity to learn from inspiring and successful businesswomen throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Each month, we’ll hear from a different female speaker. Today’s speaker is Anne-Marie Faiola–here’s a little more about her:

Anne-Marie is a serial entrepreneur. She started Bramble Berry in Bellingham at 20 years old when a career in law enforcement didn’t pan out. What began in a 400-square-foot closet, grew into a million dollar operation in just four years. Now with several successful companies to her name, Anne-Marie has been honored as both Washington State’s Businesswoman of the Year in 2009 and Washington State’s Businessperson of the Year in 2010. Bob Pritchett (Faithlife’s CEO) counts Anne-Marie as one of his most-respected leaders in our community.

So where did this speaking series come from? It started with Breanna Bart, one of Faithlife’s recruiters. She had an idea, so she brought it to Bob. Recently, I asked Breanna a little more about this speaking series and how she made it happen.

1. Where did this idea come from? What’s the motivation behind it?

I would love to see more women leaders at Faithlife!

Leadership, and in particular, cultivating women leaders, is a passion and interest of mine. I was interested in learning from some of the incredible women in our community, and figured if I was, others would be as well. In the spirit of Faithlife’s culture of growth and initiative, I put together a program that I thought would benefit everyone here.

Traditionally, girls haven’t always been taught to ask, negotiate, and sit at the table. When thrown into the workforce, that sometimes plays out in very direct ways. I want women everywhere to know that it’s not scary, and that it starts with believing in yourself.

I strongly believe we, regardless of gender, can all accomplish remarkable things. The only thing holding us back is that pesky mental barrier telling us it’s not possible. These four women that will be visiting Faithlife over the next couple months didn’t let that voice in their head tell them to stop when the going got tough.

One of the things I love most about Faithlife is that we are encouraged and supported to go above and beyond to benefit the company and our colleagues. I’d been playing around with ideas for a women in leadership program, and have always been in awe of some of the strong women figures in our community. I started reaching out to them to see if they’d be willing to share their personal and professional journeys with us, and the takeaways that we can apply to our own lives. From there, the speaker series came together pretty naturally. The response has been fantastic both from the speakers and from our employees.

When I shared my idea with Bob, he was really encouraging and said it’d be “very Faithlife of me”. I love that our leadership is supportive of stuff like this.

2. How does the women in business speaker series play into Faithlife’s mission?

When I think of Faithlife’s mission, I think of community. Putting together the women in business speaker series is my way of serving and building up the incredible group of leaders we have at Faithlife.

3. Is this something Faithlife can expect more of in the future?

The sky is the limit with what we can expect! It’s up to us as a community to support and build each other up. I’m committed to doing everything I can to cultivate leadership, both in myself, and my colleagues.

4. How did you select the speakers?

I thought about who I knew or had heard of that had accomplished amazing things. I also did some research on women who’d won awards in our community, as well as women who were leaders on high-profile boards in town. Once I started sharing my idea for the speaker series with others, they all had great ideas for potential speakers as well. There are four women lined up to speak, and several more who committed if the response stays as positive as it has been so far.

5. Which speaker are you most excited to hear from, and why?

I’m excited to hear all of the women speak. They each bring different backgrounds to the table—different perspectives, different leadership styles, different stories. There’s something we can learn from each of them. I can’t wait to learn how Anne-Marie, who started in a 400-square-foot closet, has successfully launched several businesses. Anne Rasmussen’s ability to be wildly successful at any role she jumps into blows my mind. Mimi is one of the most passionate and positive people I know—and I’m excited to learn how she transfers that others. Mayor Linville goes to bat against the heaviest of hitters and I look forward to hearing her negotiation tactics, and how she keeps her cool among chaos and naysayers.

6. What makes this experience valuable to employees?

My hope is that the women in business speaker series will be educational, inspirational, and empowering. I hope it brings us together, and with a greater understanding of how we can support each other in being the best, most positive, and most effective leaders possible. Success is not singular.

Here are the three next speakers in the series:

Anne Rasmussen, executive director, Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center and Whatcom Hospice Foundation
Anne Rasmussen, executive director, Peace Health St. Joseph Medical Center and Whatcom Hospice Foundation


Coming in January: Anne Rasmussen

Anne manages a multi-million dollar budget in her current role, while cultivating relationships with community members that lead to million-dollar plus donations. But this dynamic, driven woman didn’t start out in development and fundraising. She, like Anne-Marie, is an entrepreneur, having owned True Bliss Events locally for several years to put on weddings and high-profile functions for some of our area’s most-noted residents. She also drove a successful career in sales, traveling throughout the country to close high-stakes deals.

Mimi Osterdahl, founder, The Workspace, managing broker, The Muljat Group Realtors
Mimi Osterdahl, founder, The Workspace, managing broker, The Muljat Group Realtors


Coming in February: Mimi Osterdahl

With a long list of accomplishments and awards to her name, Mimi is one of our community’s more inspirational leaders. She is the founder of The Workspace, one of Bellingham’s few coworking spaces. As managing broker and realtor for the Muljat Group Realtors, she’s helped find and sell homes for countless people in the Pacific Northwest. Not only is she president of the Whatcom County Association of Realtors, but she’s also the state director of Washington Realtors.

Kelli Linville
Kelli Linville, mayor, City of Bellingham


Coming in March: Mayor Kelli Linville

Mayor Linville is Whatcom County’s first female mayor. She’s a fourth-generation Whatcom County resident, small business owner, educator, and former state legislator. Her success in the workplace began as a speech language pathologist for the Bellingham Public School, where she worked for 16 years. During this time, she was active in the Bellingham Education Association, serving as its president in 1989. This role transitioned to a seat on the Washington State House of Representatives, where she contributed 17 years of legislative service. Among her many accomplishments, she created the LIFT (Local Infrastructure Funding Tool) program to secure $25 million in state matching funds for waterfront redevelopment, and was recognized as the 2010 Legislator of the Year from the Northwest Regional Council.

Want to be around next time someone has an awesome idea at Faithlife? Check out our available careers and find one that fits you.

The Driven Leader, Part 2


Today’s guest post is by Pastor Kip McCormick. Kip is the campus pastor for Cornwall Church Skagit Valley in Mt Vernon, Washington—a satellite campus of Cornwall Church in Bellingham, Washington. Kip earned his Master of Divinity degree while running a youth ministry in Seoul, South Korea. Upon retiring from 28 years of service as an active duty colonel in the Army in 2009, Kip continued pastoring youth and men in the United States. He has a passion for God’s Word and recently completed his PhD in biblical studies. Kip combines his experience as a senior officer in the military, former U.S. Military Academy (West Point) instructor, and intelligence professional with his desire to equip and encourage others in their walk with Christ.

Last week, Kip shared “The Driven Leader, Part 1.” Here, he continues his thoughts on “driven-ness,” passion, and leadership:

Jesus was a man of passion.

When you look at Jesus’ earthly ministry, you find that Jesus often withdrew to a quiet place, walking away from ministry opportunities, people to be healed and miracles to be accomplished (work) so that He could stay in relationship with the Father. Jesus had an uncanny rhythm with his Heavenly Father. He ebbed and flowed with the Almighty as God directed him (John 5:19).

Read more…

The Driven Leader, Part 1

kipToday’s guest post is by Pastor Kip McCormick. Kip is the campus pastor for Cornwall Church Skagit Valley in Mt Vernon, Washington—a satellite campus of Cornwall Church in Bellingham, Washington. Kip earned his Master of Divinity degree while running a youth ministry in Seoul, South Korea. Upon retiring from 28 years of service as an active duty colonel in the Army in 2009, Kip continued pastoring youth and men in the United States. He has a passion for God’s Word and recently completed his PhD in biblical studies. Kip combines his experience as a senior officer in the military, former U.S. Military Academy (West Point) instructor, and intelligence professional with his desire to equip and encourage others in their walk with Christ.

If I were to ask you right now to write down some words that describe a leader, you’d probably identify qualities like purposeful, committed, compassionate, confident, goal setter, determined, and vision caster.

Another word that often gets put in the mix is “driven.”

Read more…

10 Things Every Youth Leader Should Know

youth group

A lot of Christians think they aren’t cut out for youth ministry. But if you love Jesus and you care about kids, everything else falls into place.

In my five years working with middle school students I’ve met multiple 80 year olds who are incredible youth leaders—and it’s not for their spunky personalities and crazy dance skills. They love Jesus and they love kids. When you boil it down, that’s what really matters.

If you start with Jesus, all of the intricacies of youth leading should align conceptually, biblically, and practically. You should be able to trace everything back to Jesus.

Here are ten things every youth leader should know:

1. Have a purpose for everything

Let’s be honest. From the outside looking in, there’s a lot of weird stuff that happens at youth groups. Beach ball ballet, cricket-spitting contests, fruit baseball, and an endless list of games, skits, and programs that don’t seem in any way connected to sharing the gospel.

But if you know the purpose behind each component, then even the goofy and weird parts make sense.

Some games give lonely, left out, or neglected kids the chance to be noticed, cheered, and celebrated. Other games force kids to work together—regardless of who they’re friends with at school.

Wacky leader skits can create laughter, break down walls, and show kids that there is a childlike joy in everyone. For leaders, those same activities can offer an opportunity to step out of their own comfort zone and put kids before themselves.

I’ve worked with leaders who refused to put themselves in front of kids and be goofy alongside them because “it wasn’t their gifting.” It’s definitely important to recognize what you’re good at and what you’re not good at (so you know how you’re best suited to serve your team), but if we understand the why behind each aspect of youth group, it becomes a lot less about us and a lot more about the kids, Jesus, and the ways we let God use us.

2. Humble yourself

The more cool, holy, or amazing you present yourself as, the more distant kids will feel from you.

You’re also the person who happens to be proclaiming the gospel and sharing about Jesus—do the math.

Leaders should show kids that Jesus meets them right where they are, loves them as they are, and desires to be a part of their lives right now—not once they become as cool, holy, and amazing as their leaders.

When Kids Hurt
When Kids Hurt is a great resource to help you navigate the adolescent world.

You were a kid once. If you’re made of flesh and blood, you probably sinned once, too. It’s not always best to share all the details of your sin without a relational foundation, but the more vulnerable you are with kids, the more likely they are to share the sin in their lives too. If we hide, so do they.

Humility isn’t just important for our relationships with kids. If you serve in a youth ministry, chances are good that you work with a team of volunteers.

Serving in ministry together is a surprisingly dangerous opportunity for selfishness to creep into our lives. It’s easy to feel like by being on the team we are fulfilling our duties, checking the box, or doing our time. But if you’ve committed to being a part of the team, share the load. Don’t dump everything onto one person—especially not the person giving the message. If someone else on your team is directly communicating the gospel, help that leader give kids their best by allowing them to focus on preparing their message.

3. Seek the kids in the corners

No matter how awesome your youth group is, there will always be kids in the corners. The ones who show up because their parents made them come, or a cute boy or girl is there too. They think the games are dumb and the leaders are weird. Or maybe they just want everyone else to think they’re too cool to be there. Either way, God has brought them to your youth group, and he’s entrusted them to you for an hour or two each week.

Sometimes kids genuinely aren’t interested in what’s going on, and you can’t and shouldn’t force them to join in. But sometimes kids stand in the corners to see if anyone will notice.

If a kid without friends comes to youth group, where he/she doesn’t have friends, how do you make the body of Christ look different than school? Involve them. Love them. Imitate God’s relentless pursuit of their hearts.

4. Share the joy of the gospel

The gospel isn’t boring. A lot of kids think it is, because their only exposure to it is from reading a translation of a 2,000-year-old book, or listening to messages crafted for adults. Jim Rayburn, founder of Young Life (a youth ministry designed for kids who don’t go to church), once said “It’s a sin to bore a kid with the gospel.” Whether or not you agree with Rayburn, Christians can’t overlook the potential damage of presenting the most exciting truth in the history of the world as stale, old, and irrelevant. The Bible is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), and there are countless ways to show kids that the life and truth it contains is applicable to their lives today.

5. Know your kids

Knowing your kids means more than just knowing who they are. It means knowing how they will respond to different situations, and preparing your events with them in mind.

Some kids love being the center of attention, and some kids fall apart when you put them in front of a group. It’s important to give kids equal opportunity to shine, but the risk of humiliating a kid or making them feel alone and outcast is not worth the potential reward of making them feel adored.

If a kid is checking out your youth group for the first time and you’ve never had any interaction with them, you might want to be careful about throwing them into a game that requires them to be outgoing and comfortable in front of everyone.

It’s also important to know where your kids are at spiritually. This doesn’t mean you should ask every kid who comes through the door, “Do you believe in Jesus?” Those conversations should happen, but not before you develop a relationship with them and earn the right to ask those deeply intimate questions.

There are countless reasons why a kid might walk in through the doors of your youth ministry, and a lot of them aren’t Jesus (at least, not from the kid’s perspective). Over-spiritualizing a kid’s experience can actually prevent them from having a spiritual experience. St. Francis of Assisi is often attributed with saying, “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words.” Youth ministry is an excellent context to practice reflecting Christ through the way you love and live.

6. Don’t embarrass kids*

Kids live in constant fear of humiliation. The last place they should have to live out their worst nightmares is at youth group—where they are also learning that they are loved and valued by God.

*See #5 and #1. If you know a kid well enough and you’re confident that their class-clown spirit will allow them to embrace and appreciate the experience, and the embarrassment serves a purpose, mild embarrassment may be acceptable.

7. Meet parents

You could be the nicest, most caring and trustworthy person on the planet, but if parents don’t know you, how can you expect them to trust you with their kids?

Building a relationship with parents is especially important for middle school and elementary school ministries, where kids are fully dependent on their parents to even be able to show up at your events. Sometimes meeting parents is effortless because they actively seek out the leaders who work with their kids. Other times, meeting parents takes work.

Even if they don’t care who you are or who their kids hang out with, it will always be worth it to you in your ministry to get to know the people who have raised the kids God has placed at your feet. When kids leave, walk them out to whoever picks them up. Better yet, offer to give them a ride, and use it as an opportunity to introduce yourself to their parents. Don’t let the inside of the church be the only place your life overlaps with your kids’.

8. Put your relationship with Jesus first

This may seem selfish in a way, but the reality is, the more we put Jesus first, the more we love those around us. When you put your relationship with Jesus first, the purpose and significance of everything you do and say to others is amplified, not reduced.

Phrases like, “You can only lead someone as far as you’ve gone” may be cliché, but they still carry weight. If you aren’t pursuing your own relationship with Jesus, how can you honestly encourage kids that it’s important to their faith? If you aren’t reading your Bible, praying, and surrounding yourself with Christians who are wiser than yourself, you aren’t offering your best to your ministry, your kids, or God. These are your tools of the trade, and if you aren’t using your tools, how can you do your job?

9. Honor your commitment

Hopefully getting involved with a youth group wasn’t just a passing fancy you had in church one day. Stepping into ministry of any kind is something that should be prayerfully considered, discussed with God and with wise people in your life, and surrounded with spiritual preparation.

If you’ve committed to leading kids at your church or through another ministry, honor God, your kids, and the leaders on your team by being trustworthy, accountable, and invested in the work you are doing together.

Today’s kids have been dubbed “the fatherless generation.” Youth leaders can’t abandon them too. Leaving ministry should be considered just as carefully and prayerfully as entering it.

10. Get a mentor

One of the biggest dangers facing people in ministry is burnout. It’s easy to be excited about something when you first get going, but after a couple years, or a decade, how do you stay excited? And more importantly, how do you draw from your experience while still treating each experience and each kid as something entirely new and wonderful?

The key is having a mentor.

If you are constantly pouring into the lives of kids and nobody is pouring into you, sooner or later you’re going to feel empty. Whether that mentor is a pastor, a more experienced leader, or a wise friend from church, you need somebody who can offer you fresh perspective, hold you accountable, pray for you, love you, and inspire you to keep going (Hebrews 10:24).

What else do you think youth leaders should know? Tell us in the comments!

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Want to build a volunteer program that lasts? Can Someone Please Volunteer? is a free ebook packed with insights to help you recruit, train, and retain more volunteers.

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7 Things the Bible Says about Leadership

Proverbs—one of my favorite books in the Bible—contains wisdom for nearly every facet of human life. Written primarily by the wise King Solomon, Proverbs is best known for its contrasting descriptions of wisdom and foolishness, but it has a lot to say about other subjects as well—leadership, for example. Here are seven things that Solomon tells us about leadership in Proverbs:

  • Sustainability is better than status. (Proverbs 12:9)
  • Wisdom is contagious. (Proverbs 13:20)
  • Productivity is messy. (Proverbs 14:4)
  • The ends do not justify the means. (Proverbs 15:17)
  • Those with great power ought to use it gently. (Proverbs 15:1)
  • To hate learning is to hate yourself. (Proverbs 15:32)
  • Ambition is a great motivator. (Proverbs 16:26)

baker-leadership-collectionProverbs can help us follow Abraham Lincoln’s sage advice: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” (Click to tweet) If God has placed you in a position of leadership, there are a number of resources on Logos.com for you. Tozer on Christian Leadership and the nine-volume Baker Leadership Collection come to mind immediately. Buy both of these resources, and you can enjoy them in your Faithlife Study Bible app today!