The “What If” Phenomenon Transcript

A Women's Leadership Workshop Podcast

The goal of the Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcast is to bring practical insight and relevant leadership lessons to women. We want to help ladies everywhere learn to lead better. You can listen to all the latest podcasts now by clicking HERE. If a blog format is more your style, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find the transcript to Episode 6. You can read now!

The “What If” Phenomenon

“What if they hate me? What if I don’t fit in? All these girls have been dancing together for years! What if I can’t keep up? What if I’m never in the Nutcracker? WHAT THEN!?! Maybe we should just go back home and keep looking.”

“I love moving….” said no one ever. Moving is tough, whether you’re moving down the street or across stateliness. Add in 4 kids, a husband and a cat and it feels like an impossibility. In our family, I play the role of household manager. We have a little saying “Daddy’s the boss, but Mommy’s in charge.” So when it came time to relocate my family from Charlotte, North Caroline to Atlanta, Georgia in June of last year the responsibility fell squarely on my shoulders.

I should tell you…I’m an expert mover. Frank and I used to flip houses and we’ve lived in seven cities in three different states. I’ve actually moved our family 11 times in 16 years. I would also describe myself as a detail oriented organizational neat freak. With that being said, you would think this last move would have been a breeze. Our house was boxed up and ready to go two weeks before the movers came. I hired a cleaning service the day before closing and within hours returned every phone call, email, or text from the bank, title company and real estate agent.

Within a week of the move our driver’s licenses read “Georgia resident,” my kids were enrolled in school for the next year and I had located a drive-thru dry cleaners, which is essential in my house because I don’t own an iron and we’re both public speakers.

There was one problem, however, that felt insurmountable. My daughter Layla, a competitive dancer, had been with the same dance company since she was three years-old. They were more than a team. They were family.

Layla had tried out for several different competitive teams in the area and had made the cut every time. Yes, my little girl is talented. But when it came time to make a choice, it was tough. How could we ever replace our old studio? It would be like replacing a member of your family…well…if I’m being honest, Layla would have probably had an easier time trading one of her brothers than she had selecting a new dance studio.

When we finally settled on a selection, I assumed the hard part was over. She had made it. She was on the team. We had been successful.

That first car ride to the new studio was nerve-wracking. My sweet talkative daughter stared out the window lifelessly. She was unresponsive to my attempt at conversation and she had discovered a run in her tights and was picking at it anxiously. When we were only a mile away, she started to panic.

“What if they hate me? What if I don’t fit in? All these girls have been dancing together for years. What if I can’t keep up? What if I’m never in the Nutcracker? WHAT THEN!?! Maybe we should just go back home and keep looking.”

Her fear was crippling her. She was terrified of the “what ifs,” the unknown, and it was getting the best of her. My daughter is confident and fearless. Her most common phrase at competitions is, “I’ve got this mom…stop worrying.” Yet, here she said petrified of a few girls in leotards and ballet slippers.

My heart hurt for her because I could empathize. How many times have I hesitated at the dawn of a new season? How many times has my fear got the best of me? How many times have I bartered the risk of greatness for the comfort of the status quo?

Fear.

We all struggle with it. I’m sure if I asked you what you feared most, you’d struggle to come up with a single answer.

I’m terrified of something tragic happening to those I love. I panic at the thought of people looking at me, judging me, and finding me lacking. I worry that I will become irrelevant and outdated. Even the wrinkles around my eyes cause alarm.

Do you think our Creator, the master of the universe, didn’t expect his most glorious creation to experience fear? God knows your heart. He’s familiar with your struggles, and He understands your apprehension.

Can you guess what the most frequently used command in the Bible is? (Drum Roll Please…)

“Do Not Be Afraid”

This phrase or theme appears 365 times in scripture. Here are just a few examples:

  • “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.” Exodus 14:13
  • “Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” Deuteronomy 3:22
  • “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

365 times the Bible addresses fear…do you think it’s a coincidence that there are 365 days in the year? I don’t. I think that God knew the greatest weapon of our enemy would be FEAR. I believe he knew we would need a daily infusion of fortitude.

Several times in scripture, the phrase “do not be afraid” is followed with the words “do not be discouraged.” The word discouragement means to lose confidence or enthusiasm and to become disheartened. I don’t know about you, but that’s exactly what happens to me when I allow my fears to run rampant in my mind. But the Bible teaches us that we are not to be discouraged. Instead, in Joshua 1:9 we are told to Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

So here’s this week’s challenge: Play it out. Don’t allow the “what ifs” to haunt you for even a day longer. Come to terms with the worst-case scenario. Recognize the potential for adversity, but hope for the possibility of favor. And then pray. Pray that God will give you the strength to face what’s in front of you and the faith to keep your eyes focused on the one who will never abandon you, Jesus Christ. When everyone lets you down, He won’t. When trouble arises, you can find peace in the Savior.

When we understand the supremacy of our God and the vastness of His love for us, it puts our problems in perspective. There is no reason to fear. God is always in control, and you are his most precious creation.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Don’t allow your “what if” to delay “what could be.” God is at work, everyday, in unseen and incomprehensible ways. He has your interest in mind. And I choose to believe that your best is yet to come, if you’ll just have the courage to accept it and move forward.

Six months ago my brave little girl collected her dance bag, climbed out of the car and willed herself to step into a new season with a new team. It wasn’t easy. It still isn’t. There are days she misses her former studio. She still compares the old to the new. She longs for the seasoned friendships she left behind. And yet…she’s a better dancer today than she has ever been. She’s more passionate about this beautiful gift God has blessed her with. The adversity became her advantage. She is stronger and more confident than ever before. Acceptance is no longer the scale on which she measures success. Instead, excellence is her aim. Whether she has a team behind her or not, she chooses to dance. Because she loves it. Because it’s what she was made to do.

You were made for something greater, designed to accomplish that purpose. Leave the fear of “what if” behind and have the courage to advance into tomorrow and “what could be.”

“Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.”

Isaiah 12:2 (NIV)

To help you to keep the “what ifs” in perspective, we’ve created a smart phone background with today’s scripture from Isaiah 12:2. Right click to download now.

The “What If” Phenomenon

A Women's Leadership Workshop Podcast

Fear can be debilitating. So many times we allow the uncertainty of the unknown to steal tomorrow’s potential. In this podcast, I share how my daughter’s fear nearly robbed her of the joy of dancing.

Listen Now.

To help you keep the “what ifs” in perspective, we’ve created a smart phone background with today’s scripture from Isaiah 12:2. Right click to download now.

If you enjoy today’s Podcast, I would encourage you to subscribe and share so that you and your friends can experience a challenging and inspiring word every Wednesday morning.

To listen to other Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcasts, click HERE.

Jess Bealer

The Real Me, Part 2 Transcript

A Women's Leadership Workshop Podcast

The goal of the Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcast is to bring practical insight and relevant leadership lessons to women. We want to help ladies everywhere learn to lead better. You can listen to all the latest podcasts now by clicking HERE. If a blog format is more your style, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find the transcript to Episode 5. You can read now!

The Real Me

Part 2

“I know God told us to make this move, but it feels like everything in my life is either broken or falling apart.”

In December of 2016, my husband and I made the hardest decision we’ve ever made in our married life. After months of prayer and fasting we took a step of faith and stepped away from our current ministry positions…that we loved with every piece of our being. We knew God was at work. We could feel the unsettling nature of the Holy Spirit just before it moves in a powerful way. God had assured us time and time again that He did, in fact, have a plan. He just needed us to act in obedience. So, on a Thursday in December we finally said, “Ok, God. We’re going to do this your way.”

I have to tell you, there were many tears…even more sleepless night. I felt sick to my stomach. I lost weight because of the stress. And that unsettling nature I just spoke about felt all-consuming. In hindsight, I understand.

God was about to move in a mighty way. He was going to expand the ministry He had called us to beyond our wildest imaginations, but first…I had to endure six long lonely months of separation from my husband. And in order to survive I had to put all my faith, all my trust in my Lord and Savior.

In January, God began to reveal his plan to us. The puzzle pieces came together and for the first time we could clearly see what God had designed for us.

But this new chapter would require a move. With just over half of the school year under our belt and the finalization of our adoption nearing, Frank and I decided that I would stay in Charlotte until June and he would work from Atlanta during the week and come home on the weekends. Six months with limited access to my husband.

Now I should tell you, my husband and I like each other…I mean we really like each other. Of course I love him immensely, but Frank is genuinely my best friend, my rock, my confidant, my protector, my boyfriend (because we still date) and my most favorite person. I have this little saying, “Jesus is #1 in my heart, but Frank is a close second.” So when faced with this challenge, I knew there were going to be hard days and even more difficult nights.

During these six long months, I had two friends, two ladies that stood with me. They listened to me, supported me, prayed for me, and encouraged me. As the old seventies song goes, their love kept lifting me higher. Day after day, I leaned on them and they never faltered.

On a particularly bad day, I remember standing in the hallway at the YMCA where we were working out saying to my friend, “I know God told us to make this move, but it feels like everything in my life is either broken or falling apart.”

My husband was two states. Our newly adopted son had developed a pattern of stomping to his room and ignoring me. My oldest biological child, who at this point towered over me, failed to see the need to keep his grades up (since he was just changing schools anyway). My younger son developed a crush on the neighbor and suddenly had a girlfriend, and my daughter cried every time I even mentioned the upcoming move. To top it off I was lonely and feeling as if I had lost my purpose.

Ever been there?

I had acted in obedience. I was giving it my all, but it felt like I was doing nothing but treading water. And the months of isolation seem to spread out before me like an endless ocean.

I might have given up in that moment. I can’t be sure. I definitely felt like giving up. But my dear sweet friend looked at me and said, “You are the strongest woman I know. You wear more hats than any one person should ever wear and you look fabulous doing it. You listened and obeyed God. I’m going to miss you. I don’t want you to go, but I know God has something incredible in store for you and your family. And I know you miss Frank, but in the meantime you’ve got me.”

I can hardly reminisce without choking up. With only a few words, my friend had both called my bluff and lifted me up.

I have to tell you, I’m not that forthcoming with everyone. I really only have four people, other than my husband, that I share the most intimate details of my life, but those relationships are key to my sustained growth as a leader and a Woman of God.

I’ve often heard people say, “My faith is all I need…or…my relationship with God is enough for me.” I understand the sentiment. God’s love shown through grace and mercy is both satisfying and sustaining, but I think we can all acknowledge that God uses people as his delivery method.

A couple weeks back, we read a passage of scripture from Proverbs. Today I want to share another passage written by Solomon. Solomon was the second son of King David and Bathsheba was gifted by God with unsurpassed wisdom. As a child he was also given the name Jedidiah, or Beloved of the Lord. God intended to use Solomon in mighty ways, even from his birth. Solomon is known for writing Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon. The book of Ecclesiastes was written in his old age. Solomon was an aging king at the time who had not only experienced the richness of God’s blessings, but he had also sinned and turned away from God many times as he struggled with lust, materialism, and idolatry. It’s important to understand that despite his unsurpassed wisdom, he was still human, flawed and broken.

Today, we’re going to read from…Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Solomon had to be looking back at his life and speaking from his own experiences. Leadership can be lonely. It’s no surprise that so many leaders find themselves suffering or drifting from principles they once believed in so strongly.

Last week we talked about the need for vulnerability with those you encounter. And if you missed that episode, I want to encourage you to go back and listen (or read) because if we truly want to make an impact on those around us, we’re going to have to be honest about our missteps and shortcomings. But this week, I want to talk about transparency.

You may be thinking…Jessica, Vulnerability and Transparency are the same thing. However, I would argue. They are not…

Vulnerability is…offering the world our imperfections as a sacrifice to build the body of Christ through relationships.

Transparency is…allowing a select few to see our innermost thoughts, feelings and behaviors to hold us accountable, encourage us, support us and grow us as believers in Christ.

The key word there is select. While vulnerability should be offered to everyone and is necessary for connection, transparency should be limited to those who share our beliefs and values and have earned our trust.

In other words…Transparency is offered to the closest of friends.

In today’s society, transparency can be daunting. We compare our lives to those of our friends on Facebook, our homes to those on Fixer Upper, and our décor to that on Pinterest. And no matter how hard we try, it seems we never measure up. With self-doubt attacking our confidence and candor, we find ourselves secreting our struggles and suffering in silence.

In Solomon’s musings in Ecclesiastes Chapter 4, we find a man who understands the need for encouragement and accountability through companionship. Although scripture doesn’t indicate, I believe he’s speaking from personal experience. God’s love IS sufficient, but “two are better than one, and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

So here’s today’s challenge: Pick up your smart phone and use it to make a call. It’s a novel idea…I know, but schedule a dinner or coffee and catch up with a girlfriend. Find time in your busy schedule to share what’s happening in your world and invest in the lives of your friends.

If you’re listening and you feel disheartened because you can’t think of anyone to call, I would encourage you to plug in to a local church or ministry. Trust is not easily given or acquired, but with Christ at the center, you can be assured your steps are aligned. A small group is a great place to find and form friendships.

If you truly want to grow and thrive as a leading woman of God, you’re going to need Christ centered companionship, you’re going to need to identify a select few with who you can share your innermost thoughts and feelings with, close friends that will support and offer accountability without judgment. You’re going to need to learn to trust and offer confidentiality in return.

“You are the strongest woman I know. You wear more hats than any one person should ever wear and yet you always look fabulous. You listened and obeyed God. I’m going to miss you. I don’t want you to go, but I know God has something incredible in store for you and your family. And I know you miss Frank, but in the meantime you’ve got me.”

Thank you Becca…your friendship means more to me than you could possibly imagine, and I’m so grateful for your support and encouragement on that very difficult day in early spring.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Manage Your Time For Maximum Impact in 2018

As Featured On The Orange Leaders Blog

“Mom, where’s my pink ballet tights and my new black leotard? I need to pack them in my dance bag.”

“Honey, have you picked up the food for small group? Remember, we’re hosting at our house this week.”

“Mom, my girlfriend sprained her ankle. I feel bad she has to ride the bus with crutches. Could you pick us both up from the car rider line for the next two weeks?”

“Hey Jess, I’m experiencing tension with a few volunteers. What advice would you offer?”

“Mrs. Bealer, as the community service chair of the dance studio, you’ll need to present the details of the upcoming fundraiser to the board…tonight at 6 p.m. Can you make that work?”

“Jessica, the doctor’s office just called to let you know they forgot to do Isaac’s hearing and vision screening during his annual physical. They want you to come back to the office as soon as possible.”

“Hey Jessica, I need content for the Don’t Quit guide for your new Facebook workshop. When do you think you can get that to me?”

“Mrs. Bealer, this is the vice-principal at the middle school. Your son is fine, but there was an incident at school today. Apparently, your son’s chair was pulled out from under him and he fell and hurt his backside. Would you be able to come to the office to discuss the situation?”

That last one nearly put me over the edge. I looked at the ceiling and took a deep breath before powering on. It wasn’t even 11 a.m. This was last Tuesday. My life is crazy. So is yours. Ministry is messy. Family is messier. If we approach our day, week, or month without a plan, we’re inviting disorder to take root and distract us from the calling God has placed on our lives. Time management is more than a watch and an uncanny ability to say “no” with a smile. Successful time management is putting into place systems and strategies that enable you to function at your highest capacity without losing sight of your personal identity or your calling in Christ….to continue reading, click here.

Check back tomorrow for another WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP WORKSHOP Podcast transcript or click here to listen to previous episodes.

Jess

The Real Me, Part 2

A Women's Leadership Workshop Podcast

Life can be hard. It’s made easier with friends by our side. In this episode of the Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcast, I share how transparency with a close friend and confidant helped me endure one of the toughest seasons of my life.

Listen Now.

If you enjoy today’s Podcast, I would encourage you to subscribe and share so that you and your friends can experience a challenging and inspiring word every Wednesday morning.

To listen to other Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcasts, click HERE.

Jess Bealer

The Real Me, Part 1 Transcript

A Women's Leadership Workshop Podcast

The goal of the Women’s Leadership Workshop Podcast is to bring practical insight and relevant leadership lessons to women. We want to help ladies everywhere learn to lead better. You can listen to all the latest podcasts now by clicking HERE. If a blog format is more your style, we’ve got you covered. Below you will find the transcript to Episode 4. You can read now!

The Real Me

Part 1

“Jess…you’re good at what you do…but, you are crippling your ministry. No one wants to be friends with a “perfect person.” And no one you lead expects you to be faultless. If you only show people the person you pretend to be, how can anyone connect with the real you? And if they can’t connect with you it won’t be long before they move on.”

When my desk phone rang that early afternoon in May, I expected it to be a fellow staffer or maybe even a church inquiring about a system or strategy we employed. I was not expecting my pastor’s project manager. She requested that I report directly to Pastor’s office. I have to admit…it felt a little like grade school when I stole Amanda Baker’s Hello Kitty Markers and then got called to the principle’s office.

A few moments later, when I walked in his office, my mind was put to ease. I wasn’t the only one (whew…sigh of relief). In fact, there were about 6-8 other staffers, mostly women sitting and chatting with Pastor.

“Hey Jess (Pastor called)…as you know Mother’s Day is next week and I wanted to get a few moms together with a couple members from our creative team and bounce around some ideas. You up for that?”

For the next hour I listened as woman after woman shared about the difficulties of being a mom in ministry. When it came my turn to share I pretty much nodded and alluded to everything that had already been said.

I could see the curious look on my Pastor’s face. He wasn’t buying my answer. “Why don’t you want to share your personal struggle? Is it difficult.”

I sat stunned. Not only, was I not expecting such a blunt inquiry, but for goodness sake…did he really have to hit the nail on the head with such precision?

I sighed and took a deep breath before I replied, “I’m a preacher’s kid. Growing up if I did something wrong, everyone knew about it and everyone had an opinion on how to right my wrong. I just learned that it was better to smile and pretend.”

I watched as my pastor’s face softened in sadness. Almost like he was heartbroken for me.

“Jess, you’re good at what you do, but you are crippling your ministry. No one wants to be friends with a “perfect person.” And no one you lead expects you to be faultless. If you only show people the person you pretend to be, how can anyone connect with the real you? And if they can’t connect with you it won’t be long before they move on.”

I’ve struggled throughout my life with vulnerability and transparency. I want those I lead to believe in me and have confidence in the decisions I make. Up until this point in my life I had always assumed that meant I must appear put-together, in control, and perfect. I mean…how could I lead someone if they knew I was just as messed up as they were?

That day…that moment in my pastor’s office was eye opening for me. My flawless impression was actually impairing my ministry.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22…

“Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.”

Paul was a complicated man. He had many roles, one of which was the role of Pastor to the Church at Corinth. It’s clear in the way he writes lovingly and passionately to the people there. In Chapter 8, just before he writes the passage we just read, and again later in Chapter 10, Paul addresses an issue with meat. Essentially, he tells those early Christians that they are FREE. Because they know the truth and have put their faith in the Son of God, they are no longer bound by arbitrary laws. However, in Chapter 9, Paul begins to issue a challenge. Just because the Church at Corinth has freedom does not mean they should neglect their ministry. Instead, they must become all things to all men.

The line that hits home for me is in verse 22, “to the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak.”

Ministry is messy. God is in the business of saving broken and hurting people. I was once one of them and in many ways still am. When shared, my mistakes become my ministry. My vulnerability has value.

As my pastor said, “People can’t connect with the person I pretend to be.” And even if they could, it would be founded in mistruth and deception. The relationships God has positioned you in are purposeful. Whether they are family members, friends, co-workers or those with whom you’ve been charged to lead, there is a reason God has brought you together. He has positioned you for impact.

So here’s your challenge today: Be real. Don’t pretend. When someone shares a struggle or frustration take the time to empathize and share your story. God has done great things in you. Maybe it’s time for you to share them.

Your vulnerability has value and the dividends are incalculable.

I hope you’ll join me again next week on the Women’s Leadership Workshop for Part 2 of The Real Me, in which we’ll be discussing the difference between vulnerability and transparency.